Local projectionist shares memories

posted by Michael Zoldessy on March 12, 2008 at 7:50 am

DAGSBORO, DE — Charles W. Thorns has been showing films for over fifty years and as resident projectionist at the Clayton Theatre, he’s shared his passion as well.

Sitting in the little projectionist booth at the Clayton Theatre — and more than 10 others over the years — he has virtually memorized the dialog for hundreds of films.

It’s a dying art, he said, because while other larger theaters run a platter system — meaning a projectionist flips a switch to start the movie — he learns the films while he is watching. His attention is necessary as a little dot in the left hand corner of every film signals him to change projectors in moments.

For more, go to the Daily Times.

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Comments (7)

markp on March 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Nice going Charles. I love the days when we all watched for the “cue marks”. I’ve only been doing this for 33 years, and yes, I run those dang platters (hate em), but I remember my dad who was a projectionist for 55 years, before going to that cinema in the sky. Give me 20 minute reels and changeovers any day. Bravo to you and your theatre owners.

JohnRice on March 12, 2008 at 4:18 pm

It was a fun and interesting job in the changeover days, carefully checking each print when it came in on exchange reels, maintaining those sometimes troublesome carbon arc lamps, threading the projectors and rewinding the 2000' (20 minute) reels, listening for the end-of-reel bell to alert you to strike an arc and start watching for the changeover cues, changing the lenses and aperture plates to go from flat to scope or visa versa…most of all trying to give the audience the best film presentation you could. I was never bored. Nowadays with xenon lamps and platters it seems to me about as interesting to me as putting a DVD in the player, not that I don’t respect the men and women who do take their projection jobs seriously. It still takes skill to do it right (watch that focus and framing PLEASE!) but for me it just ain’t the same as it was in the “good old days”. I look back fondly on my days in the booth even though they ended long ago.

markp on March 12, 2008 at 6:52 pm

So true jwr. And in todays multiplex, where there are very few true union projectionists left, nobody cares. All they have are kids and managers who have to count money running the booth, and as I’ve said many times, if you wear more than 1 hat, every job suffers. (framing and focus etc.)

scorpio1949 on March 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm

movie534 you said a mouthful regarding the people running these platter systems in the multiplex’s these days. Lousy focus, poor framing, and they could care less. I cringe anymore when I walk into one of these places. Movie going should be a great experiences for the high prices you are paying, but not so alot of time anymore. I went to one theatre and the film ran for 10 minutes before the curtain was opened…I about walked out. I went to the manager and asked him what was up.

markp on April 1, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Well David, at least you found a place that has a curtain. So many of these places today run those damn advertisements before the movie, that just makes me want to leave and never come back.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I agree with eveyone above even Tlsloews with his “cool stories”.

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