The official title of the person who runs the projector in a movie theater. My job, for two summers at the dollar cinema. The projectionist is like the Quasimodo of the movie theater, he (she) works in the dark, isolated from customers and the rest of the staff, in a room over everyone else's heads.

Most multiplex theaters now have one big projection booth, so that one or two people can operate all the projectors. The place I worked has 8, and they didn't keep me all that busy unless something broke. Nowadays, we assemble each film onto one big horizontal platter, instead of using 20-minute single reels. Since the projectionist doesn't have to watch constantly for change-over marks, he can start one film, then work on getting the others ready to start. Once a projector is running, in focus and in frame, the only thing to worry about is a mechanical failure or a splice breaking.

The job has its moments, like when some decrepit old projector jams, blows an amplifier (or worse, a lamp), or just refuses, out of pure spite, to start. When a film feed jams, it ruins about a foot-long section of the film, because even though the film has stopped moving, the 1/2 horsepower motor that drives the projector has more than enough power to rip out the sprocket holes. 3500 watts of light passing through a single 35mm frame for more than a second will melt a neat rectangular hole in the film, too.

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