Invisibility of projectionists (Mike Williams)

Mike Williams interviewed by Richard Wallace

Projectionist Mike Williams describes the importance for projectionists’ work to be invisible.

Clip

Show Transcript
One of the things I dislike is this modern trend to display projectors, film artefacts, whatever to the public. I don’t think … in the perfect show, in the perfect cinema, they shouldn’t be aware that there's a projectionist showing the film. It’s a magic window on the world and that’s where the picture is, not up there, down there in front of them. So that makes them forget what’s going on behind them, they … one of the greatest things as far as I’m concerned is the stopping of smoking in the cinemas. Because with that beam that you always had, you knew the picture was coming from behind you. Get rid of the smoke, that window on the world is clearer. Really. That’s what it’s all about. Feeding people’s imagination. Not letting them know that you’re feeding them, you think, you let them think that the screen does that for them. No, I think it’s terrible that there’s more and more trend towards showing people what goes on in the box as it were, especially as they’re hell bent on getting rid of these boxes. I think it’s terrible, really awful. You go to cinemas now and the Media Museum have done it, they’ve got a Cinerama projector stood as a, an artefact. I don’t want to see that. I want to walk into a plush cinema, through carpets, through plush walls, into my plush seat and sit and look at a screen. I don’t really want to look at the man behind me otherwise I’m going back to the days when there was a guy turning a handle. Which was most unimaginative. I think we’ve developed far further. No, I don’t think a projectionist should get any applause. He’s doing his job, doing it properly. If he’s doing his job properly they don’t even know he exists. In fact, a little extra on this, when we started showing Todd-AO we were given white dust coats to wear with Todd-AO on the pocket. But Mr Key, the manager, in his wisdom, forbid us from wearing them through the theatre. We had to take them off before leaving the projection suite. And when asked why, he said, “Because I don’t want people to see that we’ve got projectionists.” That’s where it stems from. And it’s right. We don’t want people to know that there are little men winding the handles. We want them to enjoy the film.

Title

Invisibility of projectionists (Mike Williams)

Description

Projectionist Mike Williams describes the importance for projectionists’ work to be invisible.

Source

Interview with Mike Williams

Publisher

The University of Warwick

Date

04/12/2015

Format

.mp3

Language

English

Type

Sound recording
interview extract

Coverage

1956-1964

Interviewer

Richard Wallace

Interviewee

Mike Williams

Date of Interview

25/08/2015

Location

Cardiff

Transcription

One of the things I dislike is this modern trend to display projectors, film artefacts, whatever to the public. I don’t think … in the perfect show, in the perfect cinema, they shouldn’t be aware that there's a projectionist showing the film. It’s a magic window on the world and that’s where the picture is, not up there, down there in front of them. So that makes them forget what’s going on behind them, they … one of the greatest things as far as I’m concerned is the stopping of smoking in the cinemas. Because with that beam that you always had, you knew the picture was coming from behind you. Get rid of the smoke, that window on the world is clearer. Really. That’s what it’s all about. Feeding people’s imagination. Not letting them know that you’re feeding them, you think, you let them think that the screen does that for them. No, I think it’s terrible that there’s more and more trend towards showing people what goes on in the box as it were, especially as they’re hell bent on getting rid of these boxes. I think it’s terrible, really awful. You go to cinemas now and the Media Museum have done it, they’ve got a Cinerama projector stood as a, an artefact. I don’t want to see that. I want to walk into a plush cinema, through carpets, through plush walls, into my plush seat and sit and look at a screen. I don’t really want to look at the man behind me otherwise I’m going back to the days when there was a guy turning a handle. Which was most unimaginative. I think we’ve developed far further. No, I don’t think a projectionist should get any applause. He’s doing his job, doing it properly. If he’s doing his job properly they don’t even know he exists. In fact, a little extra on this, when we started showing Todd-AO we were given white dust coats to wear with Todd-AO on the pocket. But Mr Key, the manager, in his wisdom, forbid us from wearing them through the theatre. We had to take them off before leaving the projection suite. And when asked why, he said, “Because I don’t want people to see that we’ve got projectionists.” That’s where it stems from. And it’s right. We don’t want people to know that there are little men winding the handles. We want them to enjoy the film.

Original Format

One-to-one interview

Duration

00:02:28

Bit Rate/Frequency

320kbps

Cinema

ABC (Olympia) Cinema, 67 Queen Street, Cardiff

Citation

The Projection Project, “Invisibility of projectionists (Mike Williams),” Projection Project, accessed March 24, 2019, https://projectionproject.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/392.

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