How to Run a Picture Theatre – part 5

I’m running this series taken from the 1910 [correction – probably 1912] publication How to Run a Picture Theatre, which eventually I’ll put up all together in a new Texts section. Anyway, having taken care of the exterior, foyer and auditorium, now you need to think about your projectionist. Note the fire precautions, but also the need to install a stereopticon, or lantern slide projector, for advertisements, in-house announcements and sing-a-long slides:

The Operating Chamber. The operating chamber is, of course, subject to very stringent regulations by the authorities which appear in an index to this work …

There should be three traps, one each for the projector, the stereopticon, and the look-out in preference to a larger trap permitting all three. If two machines are used, the number of traps is increased …

A bucket of sand and a wet blanket must always be kept in the operating room for fire extinguishing purposes …

Allow reasonably ample room and make the operator comfortable. A high stool with a comfortable back is a necessity rather than a luxury. If the chair induces the operator to loaf, get rid of the operator, but retain the chair …

It is best to provide two machines, using them alternately, and then if one breaks down, there is a second to run on, until the other is repaired. The assistant operator, too, is always handy in rewinding the films, because if there is only one operator who has to divide his time between projecting and rewinding, both tasks will suffer.

Next up, choosing your staff.

2 responses

  1. Great to have all these extracts on the web. I think the date of the first edition is 1912, by the way. The BL’s copy has a pencil marking of ‘1910’, but I think that’s a mistake.

  2. I did think 1910 seemed a surprisingly early, given the kind of cinema operation generally described by the book. I like its pragmatic tone and the sense you get of the cinema business moving out of its ramshackle phase. As I said, I’ll be creating a Texts section with book extracts and original articles, once I’ve got together enough to make it work.

%d bloggers like this: