Volunteer spotlight: Olga Verkhotina

Olga Verkhotina was our first Filmworks marketing intern, and she continues to volunteer by helping with development and producing content for our blog.
Olga Verkhotina was our first Filmworks marketing intern, and she continues to volunteer by helping with development and producing content for our blog.
November 2014 volunteer in the spotlight: Olga Verkhotina

Olga lives in Los Angeles where she works in nonprofit marketing and event planning. “‘Communications,’ you can say. I work at the Pacific Meso Center, a nonprofit research center at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, where we are focused on finding better treatments for mesothelioma. I help with putting on events, managing social media, and finding and working with donors. I’ve been there for one year, in January. I also do some freelance work on the side for fashion and design PR agencies.”

What else do you like to do outside of work?
“I like to explore L.A., read books, and hang out with my housemates. I used to cook a lot more, before I moved. But now that I have the 9-to-5 job thing, I don’t have as much time for it anymore.”

What’s your favorite part of exploring Los Angeles?
“I really love downtown L.A. I think it’s my favorite part of living here. I like how every area of town, they’re so different. Downtown, east side, west side. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you pick an area and can find something new. But downtown L.A. doesn’t even feel like you’re in L.A., just the feel of it. In most parts of L.A., the buildings are taller, and there are way more people than other areas. It’s hard to believe there is even an ocean, in some parts! Downtown reminds me more of, I don’t know, East Coast cities. Lots of art, too.”

What books have you been reading?
“I just finished one by David Sedaris the other day, ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day.’ I really loved him. Right now, I’ve started the latest Elizabeth Gilbert novel, ‘The Signature of All Things.’ I’ve also been into Alain de Botton. I think he’s British, kind of a modern philosopher. He writes a lot of essays on art and books and life in general. I’ve been reading his latest book, ‘Art as Therapy.’ I also just discovered Overdrive. You can borrow books from your library and download them straight to your e-reader! So I have a bunch of books there too, but I don’t know where to start.”

How long have you volunteered with Filmworks, and how did you get involved?
“I found out about Filmworks from board member Jefferson Beavers at Fresno City College. I first started as the marketing intern in January 2013, and I volunteered every week for about five months. After that, I didn’t do much for a while. I did help with the audience surveys last fall, and then recently I started volunteering again.”

What is your typical volunteer job, and what do you like most about it?
“I love to help out whenever there is an opportunity. Writing, marketing, social media, whatever brings me closer to the creative side. I like the chance to feel creative and work on something a little different each time. I enjoy writing blog posts for Film Forum just because it’s always something new. I get to learn about other stuff, not just about one particular film. For my latest post, about surrealist films, I got to really dig more into the topic. I got to realize and discover more things about film for myself.”

In November, you made photos of “The Rock” at LACMA for a promo video about “Levitated Mass.” What was the experience like, seeing the 340-ton boulder in person?
“You know, I kind of thought it would be bigger! But you only get that feeling when you’re so close. It’s really big, of course. But when you’re close to it, it doesn’t actually feel that big. It’s not guarded, so you can come and see the texture up close. It was really cool. There weren’t that many people around, so you’re just standing there by yourself with a big rock! I just really liked looking at it up close, all the textures. It’s different from every side of it. Every little part is so unique. I loved looking at it. And it made me really want to see the film! Maybe I’d have much more to say after I’ve seen the movie.”

What’s your favorite film that you’ve seen with us at the Tower Theatre?
“I really loved ‘Blancanieves’ at the 2013 Fresno Film Festival. It was really different because the storyline (of Snow White) is supposed to be familiar, but the whole film was a completely different take on it. It was also really pretty to look at, how it was filmed and edited. That one was beautiful and it stands out the most to me.”

Now that you live in Los Angeles, what do you miss about Filmworks?
“I miss Filmworks because I actually got to be immersed in the environment, helping out, and watching the movie itself every month. It’s a unique part of Fresno, and I miss being a part of that community. For some reason, I’ve never been out to a movie in L.A., even though there’s an indie theater down the street from where I live. I know, I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Filmworks is so much more personal than L.A. Here, you go to the movie theater and that’s it, unless you go to some fancy premiere. I like how Filmworks feels like an event. It takes you beyond just watching the movie. You can experience it and have much more fun.”

What’s one of your favorite movies of all time, and why?
“It has been my favorite since I was 15 or so: ‘Amélie,’ the French film with Audrey Tautou. I have seen it a bunch of times, and that one will stay my favorite. I like the idea of seeing the beauty and the happy moments behind the smallest things. It’s French, it’s inspiring, and it makes me feel good, so I love it.”

Filmworks thanks all of our November 2014 volunteers: Avigdar Adams, Sarah Elizabeth Barker, Cleo Bauer, Lorna Bonyhadi, Alma Fabiola, Richard Flores, Megan Ginise, Karen Hammer, Rebecca Horwitz, Carl Johnsen, Kathyrn Johnsen, Haley Liddell, Monica Marks-Rea, Kristy Page, Dominic Papagni, Jesus Reyes, Susan Rogers, Richard Stone, Arleen Thukral, Colby Tibbet, Lorraine Tomerlin, Kristin Torres, Michael Travels, Olga Verkhotina, Suzanne Watkins.

Past volunteers in the spotlight: October 2014: Rita Bell • September 2014: Colby Tibbet • August 2014: Monica Marks-Rea • July 2014: Julie Linwixler • June 2014: Lorna Bonyhadi • May 2014: Celeste DeMonte and Neal Howard • April 2014: Andrew Ranta • March 2014: Lorraine Tomerlin • February 2014: Antonio Garcia • January 2014: Fae Giffen • December 2013: Cleo Bauer and Dominic Papagni • November 2013: Kathryn and Carl Johnsen • October 2013: Linda Hernandez • September 2013: Susan Rogers • August 2013: Joan and Brijesh Sharma • July 2013: Jon Veinberg • June 2013: Richard Stone • May 2013: Sarah Nixon • April 2013: Alyssa Rendon • March 2013: Nené Casares

Contact our volunteer coordinator, Gloria Burrola, to volunteer at a future screening.