Making-up and breaking-down film prints (Mike Williams)

Mike Williams interviewed by Richard Wallace

Projectionist Mike Williams describes the process of making-up film prints ready for screening and breaking them down once finished.

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Normal procedure: our films used to arrive mainly on a Thursday morning, right? They could arrive, if you had a Monday start, they could arrive on a Monday morning, if they were crossed over from another cinema. They could arrive on a Sunday or a Saturday depending how FTS, Film Transport Services, delivered them. But mainly they came up on a Thursday. So Friday morning they would then be carried upstairs. Now, we were lucky, we only had a projection suite on the first floor. Some cinemas had to carry these damned heavy boxes right up to god. We were lucky, unless we were showing Todd-AO because they were very heavy, and a lot of them. But then you feel sorry for the guys that had Cinerama, who had three times as many. But anyway, that was Thursday morning they’d arrive. Friday morning would be make up day. Chief would come in and out to the rewind room and he would make up the programme for the following week. Now, in those days every join in the film had to be checked and because Frank was a bit meticulous most joins would be remade. In those days you had to scrape off the emulsion, scrape off the base and join the film together with film cement. Nowadays they use a form of Sellotape which is very easy and very quick. It wasn’t in our day. You physically had to check that every … that was a long arduous job and he would be doing that probably up until about four o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday. Then they’d be put away in the lower spool racks until Sunday when the feature would be taken out and played through for chief to edit the sound, edit the way it was played and it would be shown on the Sunday usually lunchtime-ish. Then it would come out again and it would be shown through the week as per normal. Then on Saturday the process would be to break it down again. Now what we used to do in those, in our cinemas, on a Saturday night we used to use what they called blind spools, a spool with only one side on it. So you put your film on the top of the projector, put the blind spool on the bottom with a film block in the middle, lace your film on that and when you come to the end of the reel you take your reel of film off and it would be ready to put in the box, in a can and sent away again. That was basically it. The only thing you would have to break down physically is the adverts, the news and the trailers.

Title

Making-up and breaking-down film prints (Mike Williams)

Description

Projectionist Mike Williams describes the process of making-up film prints ready for screening and breaking them down once finished.

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

Normal procedure: our films used to arrive mainly on a Thursday morning, right? They could arrive, if you had a Monday start, they could arrive on a Monday morning, if they were crossed over from another cinema. They could arrive on a Sunday or a Saturday depending how FTS, Film Transport Services, delivered them. But mainly they came up on a Thursday. So Friday morning they would then be carried upstairs. Now, we were lucky, we only had a projection suite on the first floor. Some cinemas had to carry these damned heavy boxes right up to god. We were lucky, unless we were showing Todd-AO because they were very heavy, and a lot of them. But then you feel sorry for the guys that had Cinerama, who had three times as many. But anyway, that was Thursday morning they’d arrive. Friday morning would be make up day. Chief would come in and out to the rewind room and he would make up the programme for the following week. Now, in those days every join in the film had to be checked and because Frank was a bit meticulous most joins would be remade. In those days you had to scrape off the emulsion, scrape off the base and join the film together with film cement. Nowadays they use a form of Sellotape which is very easy and very quick. It wasn’t in our day. You physically had to check that every … that was a long arduous job and he would be doing that probably up until about four o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday. Then they’d be put away in the lower spool racks until Sunday when the feature would be taken out and played through for chief to edit the sound, edit the way it was played and it would be shown on the Sunday usually lunchtime-ish. Then it would come out again and it would be shown through the week as per normal. Then on Saturday the process would be to break it down again. Now what we used to do in those, in our cinemas, on a Saturday night we used to use what they called blind spools, a spool with only one side on it. So you put your film on the top of the projector, put the blind spool on the bottom with a film block in the middle, lace your film on that and when you come to the end of the reel you take your reel of film off and it would be ready to put in the box, in a can and sent away again. That was basically it. The only thing you would have to break down physically is the adverts, the news and the trailers.

Original Format

One-to-one interview

Duration

00:02:24

Bit Rate/Frequency

320kbps

Cinema

ABC (Olympia) Cinema, 67 Queen Street, Cardiff

Citation

The Projection Project, “Making-up and breaking-down film prints (Mike Williams),” Projection Project, accessed October 19, 2019, https://projectionproject.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/394.

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