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  • What is the application process like?

    We ask potential volunteers to fill out our application form and attend one of our orientation sessions. We don’t hold any one-on-one interviews, but are happy to meet with new volunteers at the orientation sessions.

  • When will I hear back about my application?

    While applications open in September, you will not hear from us regarding next steps until the beginning of February.

  • Is there an age requirement to volunteer?

    Yes, all volunteers must be at least 18 years of age due to the restricted content of some of the Festival films.

  • What is covered in an orientation session?

    Orientation sessions address Hot Docs history and practices, with special attention to:

    a) What kinds of opportunities are available?
    Hot Docs offers our volunteers the chance to develop their skills, and offers roles in leadership, special events, industry, theatre operations, administration, marketing, and more.

    b) What is the online scheduling system?
    Our online scheduling system for volunteers is called the Volunteer Portal. You will receive access to the Portal after attending an orientation session, where the basics of the system are reviewed.

    c) What kinds of benefits are available?
    For every shift that’s completed, a volunteer will receive one or more vouchers. Vouchers are distributed at the end of each shift and can be redeemed for Festival tickets or at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers year-round. Other benefits may depend on the volunteer position.

  • Do I have to attend a training session?

    All new volunteers must attend one orientation session; volunteers will not be invited to participate in the Festival without attending.

    Some positions may require additional training. Training sessions will take place after the orientation sessions. While some sessions may not be mandatory, we do recommend attending as it provides on-site experience.

    Following the sessions, we do post training materials and manuals on the Volunteer Portal.

  • How many shifts do I have to complete during the Festival? How long is each shift?

    We ask all volunteers to complete FOUR shifts with us during the Hot Docs Festival (pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward this minimum). You are welcome to complete more than four shifts, but we advise against doing too many (we want you to see films and have fun)!

    Shifts range in length but generally last between four and seven hours. There are a few shifts that may be more than seven hours in length.

  • Are there pre-Festival shifts?

    We do offer some very limited opportunities before the Festival. Please note that pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward the four shift minimum all volunteers are required to complete.

    Most of these shifts are with our street marketing team and in our volunteer or main office. They are a great way to stack up some vouchers to use during the Festival!

  • Can I sign up for two shifts in one day?

    The scheduling system we use does not limit you from signing up for two shifts in one day.

    Please be mindful of overlaps and travel time between locations.

  • What do I have to wear for a shift?

    Volunteers are asked to wear the official Hot Docs volunteer t-shirt, clean, appropriate and tidy bottoms, and comfortable shoes while on shift. There are some exceptions to this rule, which is why it’s always a good idea to double-check the dress code requirements in the additional details for each shift. We also advised checking the weather, and coming prepared.

    If you fail to show up with your volunteer t-shirt and any other dress code requirements, you may be asked to go home.

  • Does Hot Docs provide accommodations for out of town volunteers?

    No, we are not able to house the hundreds of volunteers who help out each year.

  • What if I don’t know my work/school schedule right now? Will I still be able to sign up for shifts?

    Yes! If you don’t know your schedule until a week or two in advance, we ask that you wait to claim shifts until your schedule is locked. While our system does allow you to drop a shift 48 hours or more in advance of the shift start time, we ask that you only sign up for shifts you can commit to.

  • Do you provide transit tokens for volunteers?

    We only provide transit tokens for "Floater Volunteers," a team that meets at the Volunteer Office and is then assigned based on what locations need assistance. All other volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from their shifts.

  • How do I get access to specialized volunteer roles?

    We offer many specialized volunteer roles in the areas of leadership, industry, marketing, special events, and more. These are usually offered to returning volunteers first, before they are open to new volunteers.

  • Can I watch films while volunteering?

    You should never expect to watch films on shift, as you will usually be busy. There are some very rare cases where you may be able to watch a film, but note that you should always check in with your direct supervisor before leaving your post. Feel free to use your vouchers to check out films when you are not volunteering.

  • I would like to volunteer only at the Hot Docs Ted RogersCinema. How do I apply?

    Volunteer opportunities at the Cinema are available to Hot Docs Festival volunteers only. Due to the overwhelming demand for shifts at the Cinema, we keep the team smaller to engage our Festival volunteers year-round. We ask our Cinema volunteers to complete one year with the Festival before committing to year-round opportunities.

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