Finding my first job

Brian Henry (M.Arch, U of Idaho, 2011)



Sep '11 - Jan '13

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    As if I needed more urging to find a job

    Brian Henry
    Jun 14, '12 1:45 AM EST

    If you didn't know already, I work as a part-time projectionist at the local movie theater. It is an interesting job and I find working with film remarkably enjoyable. However, the times ... they are a-changin'. For the past little while the movie industry has been moving to digital and phasing out film. At the theater I work at we have eight screens and only two have been digital, probably out of necessity to play 3D movies more than anything. Soon though, they will stop making film copies of new releases altogether. Consequently, we have been busy the past little while getting new digital projectors set up and running. A couple of weeks ago, we moved from two digital projectors to four. As of this afternoon, we got one more set up and running. By Friday, we will be completely converted to digital. Since tonight's shift was my last one until Saturday, I just started the last film print of a movie I will ever start. 

    What this means for me is that soon the theater will no longer need my services as a projectionist. Starting next month we'll start to cut back on our hours. Eventually, we will only keep one projectionist who can service the projectors, manage the show library, take care of new movies when they come in, and anything else particular to the projectors ... but the rest of us will be out of work as the downstairs managers will take care of most of the day-to-day operation of the projectors. (Just so you know, the day-to-day operation of the projectors will mainly consist of turning them on, making sure the movies are scheduled and start automatically, and then turning them off at the end of the night.)

    As if I needed more urging to find a solid job. Part-time employment is bad enough, but staring that little green button in the face at 9:55 pm and realizing that as soon as you push it, you're done ... well, that's quite the kick in the pants.


    • Roger Ebert tweeted a story similar to yours, but now I can't find it. He actually has tweeted numerous times about the topic in the past months.

      Jun 14, 12 1:22 pm

      The whole idea of being phased out of a job because of new tech is foreign to me. Ok not completely foreign but I've never experienced it. However, it makes me think about CAD vs hand drafting back when CAD was just beginning. Soon it might be CAD vs. BIM and so on.

      Jun 14, 12 6:10 pm

      CAD will be VERY dead in 10 years, but I don't think that's the point.  Obsolescence is a fascinating topic.   From chariot makers to buggy whips and steam engine captains, it has happened time and time again in our civilization, however never so much as in the last 300 years.  The industrial revolution and the waves of accelerated technology that have bombarded our society have been difficult to fathom.  

      What has been gained?   What has been lost?    Are we better off?   Should we return to a simpler time? 

      I don't know, but I do enjoy a good DVD at home and movies were great back when people did use them as baby sitters or talk all the way through a serious film.  

      I hope you find the job that you are hoping for.

      Jun 14, 12 6:29 pm

      so sad ..  even the indie theaters are going all digital? worked my way through college at a two screen theater in Kansas. Best job I've ever had, in many ways ... good times. the spinning of the platters, the constant concern that all those reels were moving correctly, that static electriclty was not working against you and causing a head jam, making sure the film was threaded just right along all the rollers. It is an art.


      Jun 16, 12 11:14 pm

      Ryan, I'm not 100% sure but as I understand it the push for digital is coming from the side of the production companies. From the theater side it's either adapt or die. What this means for theaters that don't make the switch is that it will probably be a slow death. It will become harder and harder to get their hands on film prints and more costly as they become more rare. I'd imagine that some indie production companies will continue to make film but I may be wrong. I know that some filmmakers are pushing for digital (James Cameron with Avatar for example, and I believe George Lucas as well) while some are holding out for 35mm film. However, regardless of their choice in actually filming the movie it can be converted to digital for distribution, so in the end the production companies will get their way.

      It really comes down to the bottom line for me. It costs something like $1500-2000 to print and ship one copy of a movie to a theater on film compared to less than $200 for a digital copy. And even the cost of that might be brought down as they can start to distribute movies via satellite rather than by UPS / FEDEX getting rid of not only the shipping costs but the costs of having and maintaining the hard drives and boxes they are shipped in. With a cost savings like that even companies that want to hold out for the nostalgia of film may be forced to adapt.

      For the theater, digital presents a lot less liability. All the talk of spinning platters, threading film just so on the rollers, static cling, head jambs, and brain wraps all in the name of not damaging the film -- that all goes out the window with digital. Worst case scenario with digital is a damaged hard drive which can be replaced in no time and minimal cost. Damage a 35mm print by having it rubbing on one roller during one showing and the theater is out $1500-2000, and it happens. We received a damaged print that had been shown once for a special pre-release screening in another theater nearby. They ended up paying for it. This is why it was important to have good projectionists that know how to handle film correctly and can do their job without costing the theater money. Now, all you need is someone that can push start.

      Jun 17, 12 1:35 pm

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