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Cinema Projectionist

The role

A projectionist works in a cinema, operating the equipment that shows film. They ensure that film screenings run without a hitch.

The type of equipment that a projectionist works on depends on the type of cinema they work in. The more modern businesses now use digital projection equipment, while older, more traditional cinemas can still use film reels and mechanical projectors.

The work in traditional cinemas is consequently more physical, with the film reels being heavy to carry and set up.

A Cinema Projectionist looks after the projection equipment, ensuring the film and sound is playing properly, and they are responsible for the other systems within the cinema such as lighting, heating and ventilation.

With older projection equipment, they also load films onto projectors, ensure the smooth running of the film through the equipment, store the films safely, mend the film if it breaks, and send it on once they have finished with it.

How to become a Cinema Projectionist

There are no specific qualifications needed for the role of a Cinema Projectionist, although there may be an entry test. The main requirement is that candidates are 18 years old or over, due to film classification laws.

Alongside this, good technical ability regarding electronics, sound equipment and cameras can help an applicant. Some basic knowledge could be gained through joining a film club. However, as employers provide training once a candidate has been recruited, this isn’t essential.

The best route towards becoming a Cinema Projectionist is to apply for a Trainee Projectionist role, or another role within the cinema and wait until a position comes up as a Projectionist.

Skills and knowledge required

  • A passion for film and cinema
  • Technical ability, especially in finding and repairing faults in equipment
  • Good sight, hearing and coordination
  • The ability to work alone and respond to issues quickly
  • Attention to detail
  • Good timekeeping

Income

Average pay is between £12,000 and £17,000, although head projectionists of bigger cinemas can earn in the region of £22,000.

The hours

As cinemas are open in the afternoons and evenings, the earliest a projectionist usually starts work is around midday, and the latest is around midnight, as the cinema is closing. Projectionists often work in shifts. 

Useful websites

www.bfi.org.uk

www.bksts.com

online magazines