I've kept this close to my chest because it's been a difficult transition to make and I still have almost no idea what I'm doing, but over the past two weeks I've started training to be an IMAX projectionist. We use 70mm film on a massive domed screen, which is supposedly the only one in the Northeast. All films shown are Nature/Science/Historical documentaries, but for the last 2 months out of every year 'The Polar Express' is screened. My boss has recently started pushing hard to get prints of 'The Force Awakens' and 'Rogue One' but our Museum simply can't afford them. Over the next 3 years our film projectors will be phased out as we upgrade to Digital, and I'm making it my goal not only to see every goddamn thing I can up there, but also to screen any kind of Narrative film besides 'The Polar Express'. The kind of films I'd want to see, like '2001' or 'Tron' unfortunately aren't 'family friendly' enough for our audiences. Some examples of what we've shown in the past are 'Harry Potter', 'Night At The Museum' and 'The Lion King'. I'm too new to the job to even begin to discuss how our programming and distribution from the studios works, but it's the next thing I'm really curious about after I've gotten the whole projection process down.
I feel really lucky to be in this position for a myriad of reasons. I get to learn a process that won't be around for much longer in this format and use my knowledge to contribute to keeping it afloat wherever possible. I will also finally have a thorough understanding of how film works at the highest level. I've always been really intimidated by it, and thought it'd be too expensive for me to ever use myself, but the more I project it I may reach a comfort level with the technology that allows me to learn the photography side of it just as well. I'm also seeing how a movie theater runs, in the most old fashioned sense of everything depending on the film being perfectly locked in and ready to go.
Unfortunately our ticket sales have been really low for a long time. I think it's an issue with our programming. Most customers are parents with their young children, and our movies don't quite appeal to that crowd. They're all really dry documentaries, these kids aren't gonna settle for anything less than Pixar. The films that do really hold their attention are the ones full of all different kinds of animals, but we haven't been playing anything like that for MONTHS! It's peculiar to me, that we wouldn't try to milk everything we can out of our most successful movies. Maybe it's that we need clearance from the distribution company before we screen their prints? This is all stuff I'll need to go over with my boss once I've gotten into the swing of things.
I've been enjoying myself, learning a lot and trying to immerse myself in film more and more everyday. Watching tons of movies and feeling less guilty or lazy about it, because it only makes me care more about my job. Whereas watching movies was something I used to do to distract me from the day. They take on a much grander scope in my mind now because my interests and aptitudes towards it have been affirmed, instead of always brushed aside by myself and others as some worthless hobby. Everyday I feel a little closer to being a filmmaker, but for now I just have to focus on being a good projectionist, or 'Reelist', if you will.