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Behind the Projector at the IU Cinema



projectionroom

A projector sits behind a small open window in the back of the IU Cinema.  Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

The projection room at the IU Cinema often goes unnoticed, yet it plays a crucial part in viewing films there. 

Without a projector and the people who operate them, there would be no movie. A question that often goes unanswered, however, is what exactly do the projectionists enjoy about their jobs?

The main aspect of working in the booth, or the projection room, is learning how film works. Payton Frawley, a master’s student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said learning about the process of film projection was one of her favorite parts of the job.

“It is so much fun to thread the film through the projector, see the individual frames and go through a process to make such a beautiful machine work,” Frawley said in an email. “It’s also a very consistent, constant, almost intense type of work where you always have something to do while the film is going. 

People don’t seem to know that there is a lot of work that goes into the showing of films. There’s a lot to do with focusing, timing, and framing the film Frawley said. 

Jacqueline Grandy, a Ph.D. student in the School of Education, said her love of film and electronics drew her to be a projectionist. 

She said she loves to build computers in her free time and learn about technology. Although it doesn’t directly relate to her studies in inquiry methodology, being a projectionist does connect to her hobbies of watching films and learning about electronics.

“I’ve always had an interest in film,” Grandy said. “I also have a big interest in just electronics, devices, tech and how things actually work. I’m fascinated by ‘how the sausage gets made’ or so they say. I wanted to know more about how do we get films onto the screen, the different formats, making playlists and things like that. I think that really made working at the cinema as a projectionist a really easy decision.”

Frawley said she had a really intensive training session in August when she first started working for the cinema. Having great teachers such as Barbara Grassia, the technical director of the cinema, made the learning process easier. She said even though she has only been there for a few months, she has already learned much about being a projectionist. 

“I’m not sure that it is so much difficult as it is tedious,” Frawley said in an email. “I think it is like learning any kind of art form, or process. I’m not at all good at dancing, but it reminds me of dancing in that you have to learn about timing.”

One thing that Grandy said she is particularly proud of is the diversity of the staff at the IU Cinema in general. Grandy said having a diverse team of projectionists allows for more interesting communication and gives hope to others who wish to become projectionists in the future.

“We have an ethnically diverse staff of projectionists,” Grandy said. “One of the things I really love is that people don’t necessarily picture any of our projectionists in some way. Having that job means that someone else later can see someone who looks like me or someone else who looks like any of the projectionist staff and say ‘I see something of me in them, maybe I can do that job, too.’” 

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