Projectionists operate and maintain projection, sound and lighting equipment in a cinema, and show films. They receive film reels, join them together and feed them into the projector with trailers and adverts. The film is then shown adjusting sound levels and focusing. While the film is running, the projectionist ensures that it is passing through the projector correctly so that it is not damaged or scratched. An important part of the work is keeping the projectors clean and oiled.
Projectionists are also responsible for the technical operations within the auditorium, eg speakers and ventilation. They also need to be aware of the local licensing requirements for showing films and Health and Safety regulations concerning the cinema.
Cinema projection is changing with developments in digital technology. Most projectors are currently mechanical, although digital cinema is likely to become increasingly common as higher resolution images become possible. This will change the nature of projection and make distribution easier as 35mm film reels are replaced.
Projectionists usually start work in the afternoon and continue until late at night. Some cinemas have extra late night performances continuing until 2am or later. Many cinemas operate a shift system, including weekends.
Projectionists work in operating booths (or projection boxes) that are windowless and air-conditioned. They work alone during screenings.
Work may be strenuous as the film reels are heavy and lifting and carrying is involved. If the work includes care of the screen and curtains, projectionists may need to work at heights.
To be a projectionist, you should:
Cinemas are part of the growing leisure industry. New modern complexes are being built in or near large towns and cities. Older cinemas are constantly being modernised. In the next few years cinemas will begin to be equipped with new digital delivery systems via satellite, cable or DVD. This will gradually replace the traditional film and projectors.
For those with a serious interest in the industry, there will be prospects of promotion to senior projectionist or to assistant managerial and administrative levels.
Opportunities to move into other areas of leisure activity such as holiday camps and cruise liners may also arise once experience has been gained.
If you would like to know anything about Cinema Projectionist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
80-110 New Oxford Street
Northern Ireland Film Commission
3rd Floor Alfred House
21 Alfred Street
Tel: 028 9023 2444
The British Film Institute (BFI)
21 Stephen Street
Tel: 020 7255 1444