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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » "Cold Job" for the coming decade: Movie Projectionists?

   
Author Topic: "Cold Job" for the coming decade: Movie Projectionists?
David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4017
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 05-04-2002 11:41 AM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The May 6th 2002 issue of Time Magazine has an article starting on page 40 titled "The Coming Job Boom". On page 41 are lists of the top "hot" and "cold" jobs. "Cold" means occupations with the largest projected losses or smallest growth through 2010.

Making the Cold list: Movie Projectionists, with a net loss of 3000 jobs between now and 2010.

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Michael Rourke
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 159
From: San Luis Obispo, Central Coast of CA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 05-04-2002 12:24 PM      Profile for Michael Rourke   Email Michael Rourke   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Disheartening to say the least.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 12:43 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If it comes to pass, it is another nail in the coffin of professionalism, pride, and showmanship in our industry.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8002
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-04-2002 01:16 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This might actually be a _good_ thing, if it would get rid of some of the popcorn monkeys who don't know or care about "film done right."

Unfortunately, I suspect that the exact opposite will happen: the popcorn monkeys will remain, while the real professionals who actually know what they are doing will be the ones who lose out.

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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 01:31 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I take it they mean union projectionists. Since they are the only ones who can technicaly be clasified in this catagory. Remember a lot of companies are merging together forming bigger companies. When union contracts run out they will not renew them. Even with the future looking at Digital projection you will still need someone to be able to handle all the technical deamands that will still exist. Computer classes anyone.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 02:25 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Darryl, There are tons of non-union professional projectionists.

On the other side of the coin, there are tons of union projectionists I would not give two hoots in hell to have in my booth because they are not qualified. As per example, I have ran across a few union projectionists who were not qualified to change a belt in a Simplex 5-Star or a Century R-3 sound head. Just because one carries a union card does not necessarly mean he/she is a professional.

As far as DLP technology is concerned, the young people who were born with a computer in their butt and pursue a college education in appropiate field such as electrical engineering are the ones who will score BIG TIME! The teen-agers and the people in their early 20's on the Film Tech Forums should take a long close look at that. They will be able to make a comfortable living!

It is just around the corner.

Someone has to maintain those things. Somewhere on Film-Tech I read it is probably going to be under the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.



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Ken Lackner
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1885
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Sep 2001


 - posted 05-04-2002 03:29 PM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hmmmm.....I guess it's a good thing I'm doing an Electronic Engineering Technology/Computer Engineering Technology dual major. :-D

Paul, how exactly to you define professional projectionist? Is it just a matter of having the skills, know-how, and pride to do your job perfectly? What if I did not know how to change the belt on a Century R-3 sound head because I never worked with one? Would that mean I'm not a professional projectionist?

------------------
This one time, at Projection Camp, I stuck a xenon bulb....

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 06:20 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ken, that is a very good question.

A professional projectionist is one who knows the booth equipment like the back of their hand. One who knows how to repair their machines, or make quick fixes to get them through the show should a problem develop. One who knows the theory of motion picture projection, and how the equipment works. One who knows how to keep the machines running at peak efficiency. One who knows electrical and electronic theory, and has the ability to adapt to precision machinery. One who knows how to work under extreme adverse conditions without whining about someone taking their damn TV set away from them because they were not paying attention to what they are getting paid to do. One who realizes they are getting paid to do a job, and one who will do the best possible job under any unfavorable conditions. One who knows how to operate their machinery, and one who takes pride in keeping it clean. One who takes the extra steps necessary to insure the film is handled correctly, and one who takes pride in their show, and one who will get off their dead ass and keep an eye on things. One who knows how to present the product correctly, and one who will not settle for hind tit in their performance. And, one who knows what they are doing, and one who is completely alert of their surroundings. One who can pick up abnormal noises and investigate them. One who does not panic if something goes wrong, and one who knows exactly what to do if something does go wrong. One who knows how to read the manuals, and one who is willing to pick up a technical manual or literature for any piece of booth equipment and study it to learn more about it, and one who will learn from their mistakes, and one that has common sense and how to use it. Also, one who will is willing to learn more about anything that has to do with industry. One who can be creative about the way they want to present their program. And, one who is willing to take that “Extra Step” needed to make his or her performance enjoyable for the customers who are paying to see the show.

There are many other things, too. But you get the idea.

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Rob Oakley
Film Handler

Posts: 7
From: Endicott, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 07:46 PM      Profile for Rob Oakley   Email Rob Oakley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In my area (upstate NY) there are very few projectionists - that is to say - people who are responsible solely for the presentation of the films and maintaince of the booth equipment. I'm an assistant manager at a second-run triplex here in endicott. Were are the only $2.00/$3.00 theater within a 30 mile radius - the other ones - ones with projectionists closed already. There is a booth manager at Hoyt's Cinemas how oversees all the equipment and films - so he's really the only projectionist in the area. When I got my job, I applied for a projectionist position - at the intereview my boss told me "we have assistant managers - not projectionists, I can't afford to stay in the booth and watch the platters spin". I basically run the triplex by my self on weeknights - I run the films, and concession. That generally seems to be the norm anymore. I can understand the economic principles behind the manager system - but like so many on this board have pointed out, the presentation as a whole suffers. I take pride in my work - and I enjoy doing the job right - the other assistant managers at my job don't seem to care about the running film - the seem to be more concerned with the sales.

Rob

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 10:21 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
....and that's what jerks my jaws. As Rob just pointed out, too many people just don't care. And those are the assholes who should be removed from the booth.

Ken, the equipment in your assigned booth is what I am talking about. If you never ran a Century or a Simplex in your life, I would not expect you to be qualified to keep that stuff running. However, if you are running that type of equipment, I would expect you to get qualified very fast to keep 'em rolling...as a true professional would.


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Peter Kerchinsky
Master Film Handler

Posts: 326
From: Seattle, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 05-06-2002 05:50 AM      Profile for Peter Kerchinsky   Email Peter Kerchinsky   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul:
Sounds to me like you got some kind of burr in the ol' saddle about union projectionists.
Here in Seattle there are still a couple of theatre chains that hire us and believe me you will NEVER find a more dedicated bunch of people. Our local has an EXTENSIVE training program that these new hires have to go through. We don't just stick them in one booth with one particular set of equipment, but they travel all over the city learning everything there is to know about different setups.
I know this for a fact because I've done some of this training and believe me they are trained in every aspect of this business.
We've got some good contracts with these companies and we are not working for minimum wage or slightly better. I. among others, are making a living wage at my job, along with the bennies.
Yea, I'll agree, in some respects, there are some out there carrying the card and they probably don't know a hell of a lot, but I'm sure, NO positive, they didn't come out of the Seattle local!
I've dealt with union projectionists since day one in this business and have NEVER found a more dedicated group of people to work with.
Maybe you should check out a Regal Theatre sometime. Mt. Vernon isn't that far away!


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Ken Lackner
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1885
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Sep 2001


 - posted 05-06-2002 08:14 AM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wait, do you mean REGAL has union projectionists?????

------------------
This one time, at Projection Camp, I stuck a xenon bulb....

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3836
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 05-06-2002 11:15 AM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For Ken: The Regal Village 18 here almost became a union shop last year. The guys there voted to bring the IA in. But for reasons never fully explained Local 720 abandoned the organizing effort after the election, and so no contract was ever negotiated and that booth crew was eventually replaced (Nevada is a right-to-work state). FWIW last month Local 720 had their charter revoked by the International--for, among other things, failure to negotiate or renew contracts.

As for union vs. non-union operators, I've seen good ones and bad ones from both camps. Just recently, I heard about some truly awful film handling practices going on during ShoWest--with IA operators no less. Carrying a card certainly does not guarantee competence or even a good attitude towards the work. But I will say that the chances are that the guy (or gal!) with the card has at least been doing the work for a while. Whether the guy is good at the job or has been practicing bad habits all his career depends on the guy.

What defines a professional? I would say part of it is a mental attitude that approaches the work as a craft, a skilled craft that requires some time and effort to master, and more time and effort to maintain. Treat the job as a license to learn. Stay current--like pilots and flying hours, the best projectionists are the ones who do it the most. Read up. Read the manuals. Take industry training. Take electronics and computer and film classes. Network. Join SMPTE. Join USITT. Join CAS. Join AES. Contribute to Film-Tech. Be a mentor--take on an acolyte! Teach. Give presentations.
Give back to the craft!

Back on topic, the projectionist occupation has been identified as a dying one for quite some time. In the early '80s I worked for a very short while under Local 150's (LA-Hollywood) extra board. At that time the state of California had determined that projectionists were a dying breed and provided state funding to re-train projectionists for other occupations. Don't know how many guys took them up on that offer. But some of us are still alive and kickin' almost two decades later!

Paul
Staff Projectionist, Senior Vidiot
Crown Theatres Neonopolis 14
IATSE Local 720 ('74-'94), blacklisted


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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-06-2002 07:52 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Peter, I am not saying "all of the union projectionists" are bad. Therefore I have no burr in the saddle with Seattle's local or any local for that matter.

I have seen a few card carriers that were not so good, and I would not have them in my booth. Please be advised I am still Pro-Union, as I have been a card carrier for many years before I tossed in the towel.

I am sorry you have apparently mis-interperted my post. I also completely agree with Paul Mayer's second paragraph. He said it much better that I could have.


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Peter Kerchinsky
Master Film Handler

Posts: 326
From: Seattle, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 05-07-2002 04:58 AM      Profile for Peter Kerchinsky   Email Peter Kerchinsky   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Paul and Paul:
I guess I was the one with the burr in my saddle last evening. I do stand corrected in that there are some bad ones out there carrying the IATSE card and it's unfortunate. Apparently there are some locals that don't have an extensive training program as we do here. We try hard to train the up-an-comers but, as you all know, some get it and some don't.
I'm from the old school of training, that is we just don't learn to thread up, push a button and really hope nothing goes wrong!
Some of my trainees think I'm an ol' SOB because I get on their case on what they consider minor things when it comes to presentations.
I try to teach everything I know about the booths and I really believe it gets too involved for some and they get bored with it. Some have even said to me, if something breaks down etc, we can just call the tech-person. That's what they are paid to do! Yeah, right.
Must be the generation/breakdown?
Maybe we should train them in a booth with 18 minute reels, a Peerless Magnaarc carbon arc lamp and an 8 hour print of WAR AND PEACE from Russia! If they make it through that.......they're in.
By the way, I tried that once and it was fun.

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