In this job you would operate the equipment that shows films in cinemas. You would also make sure that film screenings go smoothly. If you enjoy going to the cinema you could turn your passion into a career as a projectionist.
To do this job, you should have good practical skills. You will need to be able to find and repair mechanical faults. You will also need good attention to detail.
To start in this job you will need to be aged at least 18, because of film classification laws. You do not usually need any formal qualifications, but employers may give you an entry test for you to prove your technical ability.
In an older cinema, you may run several mechanical projectors at once in different rooms. In modern cinemas the work is less physical with digital projection systems instead of mechanical projectors and film reels. The use of digital systems is expected to limit the opportunities for projectionists as the function becomes more automated.
Your typical tasks would include:
• receiving and checking the film reels
• loading the films onto the projector in the right order
• making sure that the film runs smoothly through the projector
• checking that sound is operating properly
• joining (‘splicing’) lengths of film together if they break
• storing the films safely
• sending on the reels to other cinemas
• looking after the projection equipment and organising services
• being responsible for heating, lighting, ventilation and alarm systems in the cinema
• for digital screening you will need to co-ordinate online delivery of the films with the distributor and manage the security systems for allowing the films to be screened.
You could work for a large cinema chain at a multi-screen complex, or for a small independent cinema. Jobs may be advertised in the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices, at local cinemas or on the websites of the larger cinema chains.
Major cinema chains may have a promotion structure, leading to opportunities to become head projectionists or moves into management.
Cinemas are moving over to digital projection systems with a greater emphasis on IT skills, so jobs are more likely to be combined with other duties within a company.
You may find the following link useful for general reading: Cinema Exhibitors' Association
To become a projectionist you will need to be aged at least 18, because of film classification laws.
You will find it useful to have some technical skills in electrics, electronics, cameras or sound equipment. IT skills are increasingly important as cinemas move over to digital projection.
You do not usually need any formal qualifications, but employers may give you an entry test for you to prove your technical ability.
You should apply directly to cinemas for trainee projectionist jobs. If there is no projection work available when you apply, you may be able to take on other work in the cinema until a projectionist job comes up.
You would be trained on the job by your employer. Most cinemas now belong to major leisure companies that usually provide full structured in-house training. The programme is likely to include training in other areas of cinema operations such as ticketing and counter service, as cinema chains look to train staff who can be more flexible in their duties.
Salaries are normally between 12,000 and 17,000 a year. Chief projectionists in larger cinemas may earn up to 22,000 a year.