Cos’è il cinema – riflessioni di un proiezionista

Lo ammetto, questo articolo non è altro che un copia-incolla di una lettera di un lettore pubblicata su Screentrade (una rivista per sale cinematografiche che arriva a Union Films). Leggete signore e signori, leggete… e riflettete.

When I was a teenager, over a decade ago, I trained up as a projectionist at the Odeon Hemel Hempstead. This was long before the days of single operators running the kiosk, tearing tickets and playing the film out.

Although my job was mainly front-of-house – either in the kiosk/Hagen Daz bar or cashiering at the box office – I convinced my boss to let me train two days a week up in the booth. At that time, the cinema had something lacking in most provincial cinemas today, an actual team of projectionists. This team usually comprised the old pro (the chief) who’d been there fer decades, the young buck just getting started and the jaded geek only doing it as a stop-gap.

For two days a week I got a sample of this noisy often very active, and usually fairly grubby environment – and ‘yes’ (among other pranks) they did send me out to buy elbow grease, cue-dots and left-handed screwdrivers, but ‘no’, I never fell for it!

The point was that one of the first things I learned, before lacing-up and splicing, was the importance of the show. To the projection squad, playing a film wasn’t just about ‘lacing-up and pressing play’, instead, it was all about ‘a performance of light, sound and curtain-up’.

When I go to cinemas today, I sit in a comfy chair with a cup-holder and good legroom and look at a white screen until the ads start. Then the film plays. The you leave. Back when I trained, though, I was told you had to dim the various light at just the right time, and in just the right order – fade up the sound, start the picture rolling and then open up the curtains, all timed to perfection.

When the ads ended (filmed in widescreen), and the trailer begun (scope), you repeated the process for the lens-changes, fading down the sound and the music up before closing the curtains and turning on the mid-lights. The lens was changed and the process repeated in reverse to get the trailers started and you stayed there until the film began playing before going off to check the status of other films, doing regular 20-minute checks in between.

I hadn’t experienced that in nearly a decade – ‘the theatre of the film’ – as I’ve since only been to major cinemas staffed by multi-tasking customer service/technical operators for whatever job title happen to be current.

Then, last year, I went to see State of Play at the Empire West End (formerly the Empire Leicester Square) and the performance was back: an usher – equipped with a torch – showed me to my numbered seat; the lights and curtain routines did as expected, along with the necessary lens changes and all the ‘fading and raising’ was done to a turn. Finally, the staff at the exit door said ‘goodbye’ on the way out, and that is the way cinema should happen.

Okay, so I had nowhere to put my drink, and the legroom was a bit tight, but the experience left me in good spirits afterwards, and contributed only in part by the film itself.

Cos’è il cinema? Se vogliamo, ogni persona ha una propria idea di cinema. Continua a leggere »

Secondo sopralluogo al bunker “Opera 3”

Sempre in previsione dell’installazione sonora che stiamo preparando, il 29 luglio abbiamo fatto un secondo sopralluogo nel bunker “Opera 3” dello sbarramento di Fortezza. Abbiamo fatto qualche esperimento sonoro, e questa volta ci siamo concentrati soprattutto sulle tubazioni e le condutture dell’aria per diffondere i suoni e le vibrazioni in maniera particolare all’interno della struttura. Abbiamo inoltre iniziato a pensare alle installazioni video: proiezioni di immagini evocative all’interno delle gallerie.

Per ora è tutto ancora da decidere; Tiziano Popoli, dopo aver scritto le musiche, si dedicherà alla messa a punto dell’installazione in ogni sua parte nelle ultime settimane antecedenti l’evento.

Al prossimo aggiornamento! 😉 In omaggio dalla redazione: la piantina del bunker con annotazioni sull’installazione 🙂