By Jordan Heath-Rawlings
When Kevin Smith walked into Roy Thompson Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday night, just 30 minutes before he was supposed to walk onstage, all of RyeSAC let out a deep breath.
“Jeff [Zoeller, RyeSAC events coordinator] got on the walkie talkie and said ‘Kevin Smith is in the building,’” recalled Pauline Spencer, the student union’s communications and outreach manager. “There was this huge collective sigh of relief that he was actually here.”
The 33-year-old filmmaker had been scheduled to fly in earlier Friday afternoon, but opted for a later flight, giving the RyeSAC staff a small heart palpitation just hours before hosting their biggest external event ever.
“Until he was actually there, in the building, we were biting our nails,” said Spencer. “But it was still pretty seamless for an event of that size.”
Smith’s four-hour question and answer session last Friday, was the culmination of an eight-month campaign by RyeSAC to secure Smith for an event that would raise the student union’s profile in advance of Ryerson’s new student centre next fall.
“I think it went really, really well,” Zoeller said. “It’s weird planning for eight months and then finally seeing it come off.”
Zoeller, who Spencer said was brought in as events coordinator specifically to raise RyeSAC’s event profile, used his contacts from his previous work with York University’s student centre to book the much-revered director for a RyeSAC event.
“Wherever he’s gone he’s left the place with some amazing events,” Spencer said of Zoeller. “That’s why we wanted him.”
By signing seven other student unions on to the project, and by making a block of tickets available to the general public at $47.50 each, RyeSAC was able to mitigate the financial hit that can result from a high-profile event.
Each student union paid RyeSAC a fee that gave them a block of tickets to sell to students for $30 each. That money, plus the extra revenue from the general public mark-up, ensured that Ryerson will not lose a bundle after paying Smith as well as Roy Thompson Hall.
“It was budgeted to be a break-even event,” Zoeller said. “And although we went overtime, we were budgeted for that, too, so we’re still following that plan.