Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Invisible Projectionist.

"A stage actor acts on a stage. But a screen actor doesn’t act on the screen. The stage actor just walks on by himself, but the screen actor is put on by a projectionist." Christoph Waltz.

As if his unprecedented performance in "Inglourious Basterds" wasn't enough to draw my attention to Christoph Waltz, he goes and gives a shout out to projectionists in his quite-hard-to-follow Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild awards. If I ever meet him, we may have to kiss.

Very early on in my projection career I was told that, if the job is being done properly, no one should know that the projectionist even exists. This is, in my experience, true. The only time anybody talks to projection is when something has gone wrong. Nobody approaches a member of staff and says "That film remained in sharp focus for its entire duration! Well done!" or "The sound levels in your auditorium are perfect! My compliments to the projectionist!" No, we just get a crackly voice over the intercom demanding to know why "Saw VI" is playing to thirty families in screen two who were expecting to see "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa". Ungrateful.

I have taken the notion of the invisible projectionist to heart, however, and have begun cultivating a mysterious ninja-style image, living in the shadows, creeping through the darkness and sneaking into and out of the building with as little interaction with staff and customers as possible.

Well, I was going for "Mysterious Ninja", but I think it probably comes off more like "Hunchback of the Multiplex": skulking around in the upper echelons of the building, rarely seen and exhibiting very bad posture. I also think some of the staff believe me to be a tramp who sleeps in the back stairwell or summat.

Projectionists exist in a strange half-life, between night and day, living by lamp-light and shunning the world of the day-walkers.

Either that, or we're just a bunch of anti-social nerd-boxes who took the job because it gets you as far away from the paying public as is possible in the service industry. Our only interaction with the public consists of glaring at them from behind a foot-square pane of glass in an advantageous elevated position.

So spare a thought for the projectionist next time you watch a film at the cinema. Get a member of staff to pass on a positive message, leave a bouquet of flowers or some chocolates behind the concession stand, staple some nude pictures of yourself to the projection booth door. Just make sure you don't make too much noise, as the projectionist is probably sleeping. Or busy. Yes, that's it. Busy.


  1. Wow you really gave me something to think about. It's so true. We all know that there is a projectionist that works in the back showing us the movies, but we don't really pay much attention unless something goes wrong. That was well written!

  2. I'd rather they left me alone entirely. If by some fluke I do put on Saw instead of the kids club they should just sit back and enjoy..... at least their kids will be quiet for a couple of years as their tiny minds try and comprehend the brutality of the world they are growing up in.

  3. Very funny! You guys don't still have the highly flammable old film up there do you? Did I mention that you're doing a fabulous job??

  4. Cheers for reading,everyone. Just doing my job. And Tina, no we don't use the explosive nitrate stuff anymore. I think it's a bit safer now.

  5. lol. Brilliant! Great visual image of you as Quasimodo.