Volunteer Spotlight: Barry Kwartnik
(SFF Volunteers, Michael Mayers and Barry Kwartnik, preparing to set up an SFF event.)
During the Sarasota Film Festival, you might catch Barry Kwartnik wearing his SFF Volunteer shirt and Smiths sunglasses, riding through downtown Sarasota on his Orbea bike. Depending on his mood, Black Tongue, Infant Annihilator, Meshuggah or Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza music will be blaring out of his speakers. Volunteering with us since 2013, Barry is one of the key players in setting up and executing our well known events. We are grateful for Barry’s dedication, muscle and excellent taste in music.
Where were you born and raised, and what brought you to Sarasota?
We were coming to Sarasota regularly to visit friends and just loved the area. Plus my business is 100% computer based, so there was no reason to shovel snow any longer.
If I were to take a weekend trip to Philadelphia, what should I do to have the best weekend ever?
Just a weekend? Ok. Grab a cheesesteak from Dalessandro’s or Chubby’s, Reading Terminal Market for people watching and more food, Mutter Museum, live music at Johnny Brenda’s or the Grape Room (Manayunk) and a bike ride on Forbidden Drive or through Valley Forge.
You are the Owner and Operator of JBK Drafting, can you tell me what your job entails?
I produce industrial drawings for the automatic door industry. I work closely with distributors, contractors and architects to create custom entrances for hotels, universities, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, car dealerships, shopping centers, etc.
I saw you and your wife, Lera, on ABC7 being interviewed for being a Super Host for your Airbnb. You guys are basically famous. What made you guys decide to create The Artist Studio, and when did you start welcoming guests?
We have used Airbnb to travel since 2011. We loved the way you become part of the place you are visiting. When searching for a home to buy in Sarasota, we knew we wanted to host, so we made it a point to find a home that had an apartment or in-law suite on the property. After a couple years of searching, we finally found a place that was perfect. The home was purchased in January 2015, and we greeted our first guest in July 2015. It has been a great experience hosting people from all over the world and making their trips to Sarasota comfortable as well as memorable.
WORKING WITH SFF
What urged you to volunteer at the Sarasota Film Festival?
My wife Lera was going to volunteer and thought that I should volunteer as well. Working from home I do not get to meet a lot of people, so it was a way to get out of my office and mingle with the good people of Sarasota.
Which department do you volunteer in, and what do you enjoy most about this department?
I work in event production / setup (Drew’s Crew). I enjoy picking things up and moving them places.
You have been involved with all of our events at SFF, any interesting or funny stories you would like to share?
Our home was the headquarters for Heather’s Living Art (bodypainting) for SFF 2015 and 2016. It wasn’t unusual for 10-15 people to be wandering around our property nude (or close to it). It is a very good thing we have high walls.
FINDING BARRY IN FILM
Why is independent film important to you?
New ideas and stories are lacking in big money films. It seems like independent films are the only ones telling original stories anymore.
What was one of your favorite films growing up?
Cannonball Run. I could watch Terry Bradshaw drive a car into a pool all day.
What actor would play you in the movie about your life and why?
Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon, because it’s my movie, and they seem to play any part given to them.