Routine as a rewind boy (Mike Williams)

Mike Williams interviewed by Richard Wallace

Projectionist Mike Williams describes his routine as a rewind boy.

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Show Transcript
As a rewind boy my job, it was very easy, basically as stated by NATKE, the union, my job as a rewind boy was to start work at ten o’clock in the morning, rewind all the film that had been left over from the night before because projectionists didn’t rewind their own film. It was a rewind boy’s job. So from 7:30 onwards in the evenings the projectionist didn’t rewind his own film, it was left for the rewind boy. So that was my first job in the mornings when I went in at ten o’clock. Then I would have to sweep the box out. Top to bottom, end to end, I would have to sweep that out, this, this meant removing all the heavy rubber mats. My chief had a theory about keeping dust down, you had to soak wads of newspaper in water, wring it out, throw all the wads, pieces of newspaper all around the box, all over the floor, right out as far as the rewind room and then sweep it all up. Being as it was wet newspaper it would keep the dust down. Once you got all that collected and put the mats back down again then it was time to clean the machines. By the time you’d cleaned the machines, set up the arc lamps ready for the show, it would be time for the projectionist to lace the machines up and on with the show. Then I would be a general dog’s body from the time the show started until it was time to go home at eight o’clock at night. I would rewind every reel, as it came off the machine, I’d be taking it out to the rewind room, rewind it, bring the next reel out for the projectionist to lace up. That went on right up until eight o’clock at night. But, now we’ll come to the truth. In actual fact because I loved the cinema so much, I used to go in at eight o’clock in the morning and I used to do everything I was supposed to do by the time the projectionist come in at half past nine. So they would come into a pristine box and pristine machines and I could get on with doing whatever the projectionists were doing be it washing fittings down, rewiring, cleaning fittings wherever, I was one of the team. And my rewind jobs had been … and this was recognised because eventually I’d have no film to rewind when I come in in the morning they would all do their share and rewind the film at night because I suppose Micky, as I was called then, was a nice guy and they done it to help me out, you know. It was that sort of job, I didn’t care what time I went in in the morning, I didn’t care what time I finished at night. Sometimes the chief would say to me at four o’clock, “Go home, Mike, you've done enough for today”. And I’d have an early night. Other times I’d stay there ‘til midnight while they had a press show on ‘cause we used to run press shows in those days. After the show closed you’d show a film for the press. That would go on ‘til one o’clock in the morning. Quite illegally, I wasn’t allowed to be in the theatre at that time of night according to government rules. But I would help them out with the press show. It didn’t matter, the building was more of my life than being at home.

Title

Routine as a rewind boy (Mike Williams)

Description

Projectionist Mike Williams describes his routine as a rewind boy.

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

As a rewind boy my job, it was very easy, basically as stated by NATKE, the union, my job as a rewind boy was to start work at ten o’clock in the morning, rewind all the film that had been left over from the night before because projectionists didn’t rewind their own film. It was a rewind boy’s job. So from 7:30 onwards in the evenings the projectionist didn’t rewind his own film, it was left for the rewind boy. So that was my first job in the mornings when I went in at ten o’clock. Then I would have to sweep the box out. Top to bottom, end to end, I would have to sweep that out, this, this meant removing all the heavy rubber mats. My chief had a theory about keeping dust down, you had to soak wads of newspaper in water, wring it out, throw all the wads, pieces of newspaper all around the box, all over the floor, right out as far as the rewind room and then sweep it all up. Being as it was wet newspaper it would keep the dust down. Once you got all that collected and put the mats back down again then it was time to clean the machines. By the time you’d cleaned the machines, set up the arc lamps ready for the show, it would be time for the projectionist to lace the machines up and on with the show. Then I would be a general dog’s body from the time the show started until it was time to go home at eight o’clock at night. I would rewind every reel, as it came off the machine, I’d be taking it out to the rewind room, rewind it, bring the next reel out for the projectionist to lace up. That went on right up until eight o’clock at night. But, now we’ll come to the truth. In actual fact because I loved the cinema so much, I used to go in at eight o’clock in the morning and I used to do everything I was supposed to do by the time the projectionist come in at half past nine. So they would come into a pristine box and pristine machines and I could get on with doing whatever the projectionists were doing be it washing fittings down, rewiring, cleaning fittings wherever, I was one of the team. And my rewind jobs had been … and this was recognised because eventually I’d have no film to rewind when I come in in the morning they would all do their share and rewind the film at night because I suppose Micky, as I was called then, was a nice guy and they done it to help me out, you know. It was that sort of job, I didn’t care what time I went in in the morning, I didn’t care what time I finished at night. Sometimes the chief would say to me at four o’clock, “Go home, Mike, you've done enough for today”. And I’d have an early night. Other times I’d stay there ‘til midnight while they had a press show on ‘cause we used to run press shows in those days. After the show closed you’d show a film for the press. That would go on ‘til one o’clock in the morning. Quite illegally, I wasn’t allowed to be in the theatre at that time of night according to government rules. But I would help them out with the press show. It didn’t matter, the building was more of my life than being at home.

Original Format

One-to-one interview

Duration

00:02:54

Bit Rate/Frequency

320kbps

Cinema

ABC (Olympia) Cinema, 67 Queen Street, Cardiff

Citation

The Projection Project, “Routine as a rewind boy (Mike Williams),” Projection Project, accessed March 24, 2019, https://projectionproject.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/401.

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