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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Manager/Operators?? Good,Bad or just Ugly? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Manager/Operators?? Good,Bad or just Ugly?
Paul Goulet
Master Film Handler

Posts: 347
From: Rhode Island
Registered: Jan 2000

 - posted 06-19-2000 03:13 PM      Profile for Paul Goulet   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Goulet   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was just wondering how everyone feels about Manager/Operators running the theatre so that the company wont have to Hire for separate postiions. Do you think its a good idea? Bad idea? Do you think in the long run they would have been better having two separate postions? How can One person be in two places at once? (booth and Floor) Just wondering how everyone feels about this.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16221
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-19-2000 03:59 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thnk manager operators are a bad idea. The manager needs to be downstairs tending to the job he is SUPPOSED to be doing. I have yet to see a good manager/operator situation that makes him/her viable in the booth and downstairs at the same time. Both posess too much responsibility and in attempting to cover both jobs they ultimately detract from each other.

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Sean M. Grimes
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 247
From: Lunenburg, MA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 06-19-2000 05:08 PM      Profile for Sean M. Grimes   Author's Homepage   Email Sean M. Grimes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I totally agree with Mark. Unfortunately most cinema companies believe in manager-operators. And yet most operators (at least in these non-union neck of the woods) cant even make a living.
The worst part about the manager-operator, in my opinion is the lack of time that some of us actually do spend in the booth anymore. There has been plenty of cinemas that I have worked at that a manager couldnt even change out an exciter!!!!
God I just wish for the straight-union days again.

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Daryl Lund
Film Handler

Posts: 88
From: Chehalis,WA, USA
Registered: Feb 2000

 - posted 06-19-2000 07:06 PM      Profile for Daryl Lund   Email Daryl Lund   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
how many houses are you talking about. I have seen a three plex that the manger dose fine. But I worked in a old single screen that the balcony was twined and the booth was four stories up. that job needed a projectionist. it had one to I would not have the time to do both.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 06-19-2000 09:29 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The situation you guys are talking about is bad, having someone do both jobs. That is actually Carmike's policy, only managers OR manager in training (see the loophole?) are supposed to run the booth. They don't say however that the same person should be doing both jobs at once, and actually they don't want them too. I am a manager who sometimes runs the booth and sometimes runs the floor, but never both.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12445
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-20-2000 12:04 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am an owner/operator, but it's by necessity. I would love to have differnt people for all the jobs but we're not big enough. I'm lucky in the way my (single screen) theatre is laid out...from the boxoffice I can see into the auditorium, and the stairway to the booth is right next to the b.o. doorway, so if any strange sounds start emanating from the booth (or if the picture doesn't look right) I can be there in a matter of seconds. All my concession help is within talking distance, too, so I can supervise/keep an eye on them.

I agree that in many situations it would be nearly impossible to do both jobs really well at the same time. You would wind up compromising.

I'm all too familiar with that Carmike policy. My wife used to live in a Carmike town and we would go to their theatres on dates. Talk about botched presentations...almost every show we saw was screwed up in some way.

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Tom Ferreira
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 203
From: Conway, NH, USA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-20-2000 07:27 AM      Profile for Tom Ferreira   Email Tom Ferreira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul-you opened a dangerous can of worms-they hate people like me on this forum!
I'm a manager with an excellent knowledge of the booth-I schedule projectionists whenever I can so that I don't have to go into the booth, or I schedule a floor supervisor so that I can dedicate my attention to the booth. If it's slow, I can do both.
Most managers have no choice-but I've been a projectionists longer than I've been a manager, and believe me when I say a good presentation is more important that making sure the candy case is stocked with Junior Mints. I have a capable staff who have been with me for a long time. If you trust your people to do what they're supposed to do, it makes the job easier.
Hey, I'm using Film Guard now-I must care!!

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Paul Goulet
Master Film Handler

Posts: 347
From: Rhode Island
Registered: Jan 2000

 - posted 06-20-2000 09:05 AM      Profile for Paul Goulet   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Goulet   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
>>Paul-you opened a dangerous can of worms-they hate people like me on this forum!<<

Sorry Tom, I needed something to do while i'm sitting here in Brockton! Wondering why the heck they didnt just hire Two separate people for those two postions.

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Scott D. Neff
Theatre Dork

Posts: 919
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 06-20-2000 01:20 PM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Author's Homepage   Email Scott D. Neff   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I run a 4-plex - and as often as possible we schedule a projectionist.

We have a union guy 2 nights a week - a non union guy who REALLLLY wants to learn all he can, he works 4 nights a week, and then we fill in the rest.

Except MONDAY... MONDAY is Manager day. It's really TOOOO slow to afford a separate position. Besides - if I work that day it's my day to go upstairs and check that all the projectionists have been doing what they're supposed to be doing.

If a manager is trained properly in BOTH aspects of their job, projection AND operations, then they should be organized enough to handle the booth and the floor.

But hey - I've been manager / operator for the last 5 years and I can run the floor and build up a movie, change trailers and do all the Thursday night paperwork.

Of course I'm completely nuts by the end of the night, but it CAAAANNNN be done.

Scott D. Neff

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 06-20-2000 07:08 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
For 5 years I ran an 8 plex as manager AND projectionist. Many of those days I was manager/projectionist/usher/concessionist too. Trust me, it CAN be done, but it's a real bitch.

Of course I spent countless unpaid hours after work on the equipment doing maintenance making sure nothing would go wrong. Only time I can remember having a problem was during one of the Star Trek films a bad splice (not mine) caught in the failsafe and held them up while the film dumped onto the floor in front of the projector. It was me and one employee and timer run all the way. Other than that, I cannot remember having any problems (but again, the maintenance and early versions of FilmGuard kept things running smoothly). Still, the presentation was hands down the best in the district.

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Richard C. Wolfe
Master Film Handler

Posts: 250
From: Northampton, PA, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 06-20-2000 10:19 PM      Profile for Richard C. Wolfe   Author's Homepage   Email Richard C. Wolfe   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Can it be done well? Yes in certain situations. Single screen and twins - no problem if the booth isn't hidden away from the rest of the theatre. Once you get to three screens I think there should be a projectionist on duty at all times.

Like Mike, my theatre is laid out in such a way that it is very easy. The theatre as built in the twenties originally had no access to the booth from the theatre proper. You had to go outside and in the vestibule leading to the 2nd floor apartments. Once upstairs, you entered the booth across the hall from one of the apartments. The managers office was up there as well. Once the box office and concession stand closed there was no one on the floor to see what was going on, unless you paid an usher to stay till close.

I took space from one of the rental stores and created a nice roomy office just off the main lobby where I could see anyone who entered the theatre, and could hear everything that goes on in the concession stand as well. By stealing a little space from one of the 2nd floor apartments I was able to have a staircase go directly from my office into the booth. I can hear everything running, and if anything unusual happens...I know it right away and can be up there in five seconds.

As I use two machines with 6000' reels, I never need to be there when I'm needed on the floor. I only go up for a couple of minutes to start the show. Most of the work is done before opening or in the middle of shows. I also use the Eprad co-operators for changeovers, and they never fail. I've been using them for over twenty years now.

If I had an operator it would be a total waste of money, and this theatre would be closed, as that extra expense would be just too much to afford.

NOW HAVING SAID THAT...I truly would not want to run a 4 Plex or larger without a full time projectionist. I would want to know, amd have the peace of mind, that there was someone up there keeping things going as they should be. As an owner I want to be downstairs attending to that which I'm best suited.

I don't understand the arguement that they can't afford to have a full time operator in a 10 plex. I would think they can't afford not to!

Let's look back a few years...ok, a whole bunch of years...back in the mid sixties when I got started in this biz. If you had 10 theatres in town you would of had 10 managers, 10 assn't managers and about 25 union operators to cover all the shifts for those 10 auditoriums scattered around town. A total of aprox. 45 people to cover management and projection. Now with 10 screens under one roof they want to replace 45 people with two or three. And only one at a time!

How cheap can they get?

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George Roher
Master Film Handler

Posts: 266
From: Washington DC
Registered: Jul 99

 - posted 06-20-2000 11:50 PM      Profile for George Roher   Email George Roher   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I also have to agree with Mark. Manager-operated theatres (though some are good) are a very bad idea. There certainly are people who can pull it off and do an excellent job, like some of our fellow film-techers (who I have great respect for), but they are the exception and not the rule. I think the main problem is that many managers are forced into the booth (with no extra pay) and really don't like it. They just want to manage, that is the job they like. The booth is just this annoying thing they have to deal with in order to keep their job as manager. So they spend as little time in the booth as possible, never learn much beyond getting the show on screen, never clean or maintain equipment etc. I have shared booths with managers who destroyed my prints and equipment.

For every man-op theatre lucky enough to have someone caring and talented like Tom or Brad, there are a hundred more that are pure garbage. It's very difficult to find people who are interested in good film presentation who are willing to work as a man/op. Projection and management require two different sets of skills and different mindsets. It's easier to find people well suited to one of the two then it is to find people who can do both well. And even with an exceptionally talented film handler managing a theatre, there can be major problems that aren't caught or fixed as fast as they would be if the booth was constantly manned. Sure it can be done (I have a friend who is a good man/op), but that doesn't mean it should be done. In the majority of cases quality will be better with projection treated as a separate, professional position.

Another thing that really bugs me are theatres that really DO have a dedicated person in the booth most of the time, but go through this elaborate charade to create the illusion that they have no "projectionist". Near the end of my tour of duty at GCC, my paychecks started listing me as the maintenance man, because the managers didn't want the home office to know how many hours they were giving to operators. Anyone who stays in the booth and only runs film is a "projectionist" or "motion picture machine operator" and should not be called anything else.

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Tom Kroening
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 214
From: Janesville, WI USA
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 07-10-2000 12:11 AM      Profile for Tom Kroening   Email Tom Kroening   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree about the whole manager/operator deal. I've just been thinking about this. do any of you think that maybe the larger companies are doing this not only to save money, but to prepare for DLP? Granted there will still be some work to be done in the booth as far as cleaning and console work, but there shouldn't be a need for someone to be staffed up there. I've noticed that most megaplexes will staff a manager or two in the floor and one in the booth. This arrangement works great if everyone does their stuff... But unfortunately not everyone cares as much as the others. Cleaning doesnt get done, rollers aren't checked. All this does is create problems and really makes you feel like all your hard works is in vain. The same can be said for the other side. Many booth workers may not want to manage. Both jobs carry a great amount of responsibility, why should one person carry both?

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Dave Cutler
Master Film Handler

Posts: 277
From: Centennial, CO
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 07-10-2000 07:43 PM      Profile for Dave Cutler   Email Dave Cutler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
OK, I just have to put in my two cents on this issue.

Manager/Operators are a terrible for any theatre larger than a 6-plex. Even then it should be a slow 6-plex, not one that does a lot of business, and all theatres should staff at least one knowledgeable projectionist to keep things in tip-top condition.

The problems with Manager/Operators have been well pointed out so far, so I won't go in depth. My main beef is that MOST (not all) Managers don't have the time or the desire to learn about proper projection technics. They are Managers, that's what they are, most that I know are not technically inclined people but man they run great theatres. Me I am a projectionist, I don't want to run a theatre, I am a technical person. I have a desire to learn everything about every mechanical and eletrical system that I use, most managers just don't like that type of work.

The idea of combining two opposite personalities is just bad. FEW can handle it, but most of them would rather do one or the other and not both.

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Zach Zagar
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jefferson City, MO
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 07-10-2000 10:50 PM      Profile for Zach Zagar   Author's Homepage   Email Zach Zagar   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've had the manage/run booth at a semi-busy 7-plex, ON OCCASION (call offs, etc). Its an accomplishment to do it, you feel good about it.

I think, at some slower theaters, on weekdays (non-summer or Xmas), it can be done, with great efficiency, as long as you have dedicated weekend projectionists, who can pick up the slack with some cleaning and preventative maintenance.

There's just so much lack of detail to the sad, sad, projection booth if there's one person running the theater, who also has to run the floor.

Extreme circumstances... brain wrap, causes burn through... you have 300 angry people, and a movie that's not running... WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT DO YOU DO?

Glad we all agree. It can be done, if you're a God, or are forced to, but it SHOULDN'T be done.

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