Phil Fawke interviewed by Richard Wallace
Projectionist and cinema manager Phil Fawke describes his experience of the arrival of digital projection, the changes in the number of projectionists over time, getting used to using the digital projector and the benefits of digital on picture quality.
I knew it was coming. It had been experimented on two or three times, but they hadn’t got it completely perfect though. But when it was perfected it did come rather quick. I must agree and the changeovers in the cinemas was very, very quick really when you think of it. I don’t think there's a multiplex in Birmingham now that could show a 35mm print. About 90% is digital now. Put a lot of people out of work really. When you think that when I started there was five projectionists for one theatre, and then there used to be three projectionists for a multiplex of about 12 screens. And now it’s one technician for a multiplex. It’s changed, hasn’t it? I used to be scared. I was really scared stiff at the MAC when I was left with the digital. I think because a lot of the controls are very small and you’re used to, sort of, dealing with a big thing and then you’re suddenly dealing with a panel this big that controls everything. I think it just sort of distracts you in a way when you’ve been for years and years looking at all this big equipment and big knobs and all that sort of thing. I got through it all right but it used to scare me a bit, I must agree, for fear I’d press the wrong buttons or something. And I never. In all fairness I thought digital, load of bunkum, you know. I thought that the quality would never, ever be as good. But I must agree, I've seen it and I've got to agree it’s not just good, it’s better. Plus the fact you don’t get all the scratches. I mean some of the Sunday stuff we used to get there was so many joints in. Well it was an insult to charge people to watch it really. Scratched and all joints and flashing all over the place. Really, really terrible.