Daily updates from the first annual AFI DALLAS International Film Festival presented by Target, founding sponsor Victory Park, March 22 to April 1, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007

Who Are These People? AFI DALLAS Staff

If you've ever wondered who’s running this show - really running the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival - it’s Managing Director Tearlach Hutcheson, who oversees the staff.

Not to take credit away from the festival’s founders, executives, other staff or army of volunteers, but Tearlach is the guy whose mental muscle helps the staff managing the incredible logistics of the festival.

That the machinery of the AFI DALLAS runs quietly in the background is as much a reflection of Tearlach’s personality as it is his skill at engineering a project of this size. The tall, quiet - almost pensive - Australian doesn’t seek the limelight. Instead he concentrates on moving and setting the blocks that form AFI Dallas' foundation. But don't let his mild-mannered exterior fool you. He's a born manager and if he yells for your attention at a staff meeting, you definitely pay attention.

This master of understatement says he is "pleasantly surprised" at the success of the festival. "When you start something of this magnitude, you ask yourself, 'Are we the only crazy ones that think this will work?' But when you see people at the theaters embracing your ideas, it's just great."

At 19, Tearlach bought a one-way ticket to London and left his hometown of Sydney. And has lived overseas ever since. "I couldn't afford the $400 for the return flight," he says, joking - or maybe he isn't.

No stranger to event management, he has filled many roles from Director of Publicity & Promotions to Director of Sales for Landmark Theatres 70 plus theatres. He also oversaw the Magnolia Theatre when it first opened and built it into one of the most popular theatres in Dallas. And he recently oversaw the renovation of the beloved Inwood Theatre.

"There's nothing like walking into the Magnolia theater on a rainy Monday night and seeing that it's crowded. And at the same time there's lines of people going for miles at the Angelika."

Despite the success of the festival and the way the city has embraced the idea, he says he's most impressed by by the festival's staff, which includes Operations Manager Mark Mahlo, Director of Operations Matt Ostasiewski and Office Manager Charla Rahdar.

"There's a lot of behind the scenes work that happens, which people don’t see. The level of work here is more than what you have at a 30-screen megaplex. In fact, during the festival it's like having a major movie opening every night. But all I do is manage people, and they get all the work done."

How many of us get to hear our supervisors say something like that, much less mean it?

By Marc Lee, Editor