That Time I Was An Unofficial Spokesman For Ford

Have you ever been given a task at work that you knew was ridiculous but you also knew that you had to do it? That was my experience when, while working at a film festival in Hollywood for eight hours, I was actually an unofficial spokesman for the Ford Motor Company.

“Other duties as assigned” was written into my contract somewhere, I’m sure.

The defunct International Family Film Festival (IFFF) was the “sister organization” of Freshi Flix, the company that I occasionally would do contracting work for. On this particular weekend in February of 2009, I trekked up to Hollywood to help out for one of the festival days. I was basically a production assistant and would lend a hand wherever I was needed.

That’s me with my hands in my pocket, looking way too cool for school. This was the official registration tent where filmmakers and attendees could purchase tickets, schedules, and admire random pieces of peculiar artwork that may or may not have been on sale.

So…where, on this unusually overcast Southern California day, were my services most direly needed?

At the Ford exhibit.

That damn Ford exhibit. Those words continue to haunt me to this day.

Ford was a sponsor for the IFFF that year and, for whatever reason, someone thought it would be a good idea for them to set up an exhibit onsite with a couple of that year’s current models. And it was my friggin’ job to direct people to go look at the stupid thing.

Let me break it down for you: the IFFF wasn’t like Sundance. They didn’t receive major Hollywood films for screenings. That doesn’t mean it was an insignificant festival; of course not. What it meant was that the types of films that were typically being screened there were from filmmakers looking for their big break.

You’d occasionally see films on the schedule that featured recognizable former A-listers whose careers were in a slow patch for one reason or another, such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tom Sizemore, and that guy who torpedoed Cutthroat Island. You’d also see the less-successful relatives of said A-listers, such as Chris Farley’s young brother.

The point I’m making is this: the people whose films were screening here were salivating to watch their damn movies on a big screen. The last thing they wanted was to be told to go check out some weird random car because it was conspicuously parked at a film festival.

And that’s exactly what I was tasked to do. One of my jobs was to tell everyone to check out the Ford exhibit every chance I had.

While people were entering a theater for a screening: hey, remember to check out the Ford exhibit!

While people were purchasing tickets: hey, be sure to check out the Ford exhibit! It’s really cool!

While people were wrapping up a screening and riding a euphoric high from seeing their masterpiece on the silver screen: hey, don’t forget to check out the Ford exhibit!

Oh, gosh, it was miserable. I hated every minute of it.

And it’s not like I had to actually convince anyone to buy these cars. Of course not. But it was the fact that I had become a disruptor by interrupting people who were celebrating the wonderous accomplishment of seeing their film on screen and telling them to go outside to look at a frickin’ car. If someone did that to me, I’d just ignore them…and, honestly, that’s mostly what happened. People would look at me like “bruh, GTFO.”

Viewership of the exhibit was very low because, honestly, who the hell wants to go look at a random car at a film festival? Who actually thought this was a good idea? Yeah, I get that Ford was a sponsor, but…really?

And that wasn’t the only thing I was making a pest of myself with that weekend. I was also tasked with encouraging people to buy raffle tickets. The prizes were company swag, including some intriguing denim that I don’t think anyone at the company ever, ever wore. So…let’s raffle it off!

But the grand prize? Check it out: if you win the grand prize for this raffle, then we, as a production company, will make a video about your life.

Yes. A video about your life.

I have no clue what that meant or entailed because no other details were provided. It was just “a video about your life.” I believe raffle tickets for that goodie of a prize were starting at $100.

Needless to say, not one single raffle ticket for the grand prize was sold.

This was the last time I ever did work for Freshi and, as far as I know, Ford did not return to sponsor the IFFF the following year. Whether my performance had something to do with it, well, we’ll never truly know.