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How to become a Cinema Projectionist

Cinema Projectionist

What does a Cinema Projectionist do?

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.

What's the working environment like working as a Cinema Projectionist?

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.

What does it take to become a Cinema Projectionist?

To be a projectionist, you should:
  • have an interest and aptitude for mechanics and electronics
  • have a strong interest in film and cinema
  • have problem-solving skills
  • be able to work on your own initiative
  • be able to carry out routine jobs quickly
  • be patient and alert
  • have an eye for detail
  • have good sight and hearing, with good hand/eye co-ordination to keep films in focus.

Cinema Projectionist Career Opportunities

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.

Further information

Courses to help you become a Cinema Projectionist