A video about a film projectionist and his dying profession

posted by CSWalczak on October 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

WASHINGTON, DC — NPR recently featured on its website a charming little video, submitted for an award, about a projectionist who currently works at the Screen on the Green in London who talks about himself and his craft. The video can be viewed here.

[Facts About Projection](http://vimeo.com/8972758) from [Studiocanoe](http://vimeo.com/studiocanoe) on [Vimeo](http://vimeo.com).

Theaters in this post

Comments (10)

ColonialTwinFollies on October 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Well done! It’s always sad to see a dying profession. When I worked at the Colonial Twin, we didn’t even have a projectionist. We threaded the projectors ourselves. A sign of things to come, I guess.

markp on October 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

This video hits real close to home for me. My father, who passed away 17 years ago was a projectionist for over 50 years. And I myself am now in my 35th year. I am one of the last union projectionists still working in New Jersey, and as the man in the video states, for how much longer, I dont know. I doubt I’ll make it to 40 years.

misterboo@gmail.com on October 20, 2010 at 1:22 am

I always remember fondly my time as a film projectionist. I was only 19 and it was one of the greatest jobs ever. I still hoard dvd’s i have of films i first saw on the job (it was an art/repertory theater). I believe it was even more of a dying art that learned. Symplex projectors with arc carbons that I had to keep burning steadily and manual change overs every 20 minutes. I also had to run the entire film through my hands for a splice check when we received new titles in (which was every week). What a fun job.

markp on October 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I remember those days Misterboo. Carbons, film inspection, and hey do you remember making glue splices, where you had to use a razor blade to scrape the emulsion and butt the ends of the film together?

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on October 21, 2010 at 6:51 am

Ah yes, the strong odors from film glue/cement seemed to make me feel soooooo happy… yes, those were the days.

I loved film projection, as it was, before the platter system took over and that was the start of the end… now were going digital… next is computer controlled and then satalite.

Then, enter the robots and were all doooooomed!

JohnRice on October 22, 2010 at 1:18 am

As a boy growing up in the 1950’s being a projectionist was one of my dream jobs, along with owning my own movie theatre. I even loved running the 16mm projectors at school. I learned the craft of 35mm carbon arc/changeover projection while in the Army as a sideline to my regular Army MOS but when I got discharged in 1962 I found the opportunities to continue doing what I loved were severely limited. I couldn’t get in the big city unions and out in the boondocks where there was no union, there were few jobs and the pay was seldom more than minimum wage. So I reluctantly went on to other things, eventually became a locomotive engineer on the railroad. Nowadays with platters and xenon lamps, monitoring 16 screens and a complete lack of showmanship the job doesn’t interest me much at all. I’m glad I abandoned the craft before it went to Hell!

LawMann on October 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm

When I was a kid in 1960 my grandfather bought an 8mm film camera and a projector to run home movies. For an 8 year old boy watching the projector running was a fascinating thing to see. Sure I had gone to the local movie theatres up in Los Angeles many times before but I had never seen a projector in action. Since that fateful day in 1960 I wanted to be a theatre projectionist. As a young teen I saved up my money and bought an 8mm camera and projector. In high school I joind the audio-visual class and ran 16mm films in the big school auditorium. Soon after graduating high school I got a job as a doorman in a local theatre. It was perfect timing because at the time in 1973 many projectionists were retiring and the Moving Picture Operators union needed projectionists to take their places. I was able to get my foot in the door with the help of the old projectionist in the theatre where I was a doorman and get on the job training from the union and within a few weeks after passing my city license test I was working in a theatre as a projectionist which I did for the next 22 years until I left the profession in 1996 because the projectionist was becoming extinct and more of a technician traveling from theatre to theatre and having automation take over the booth. Showman ship had disappeared.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 26, 2010 at 11:33 pm

When i saw the first the Platter system in the mid 70’s i knew right then the Union would be out the Door and within about 10 years or Popcorn girls were running the booth!

Johnllon on December 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm

At age 21 I wanted to be a projectionist, asked at a local Gaumont cinema they had no vacancy but suggested that I tried the Odeon across the road.( much larger theater) I tried there and next morning met the Chief a Mr. John Hewlitt. Started work the next week. I enjoyed that job and have never forgotten my time there. I those days it was Carbon Arc lamps, Mercury rectifiers, changeovers, stereo magnetic sound, even a carbon arc spotlight for any stage events.
I stayed about 3 years as I thought there would be no future, (cinemas were closing weekly at that time). As it turned out that
cinema theater is still open, a rare survivor from the 1930’s.
Whenever I pass the building I have fond memories of those old days.

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