An Inside Look at Film Projection Booths

film reel

It would perhaps be safe to assume that all of us have at least craned our necks once to see those small holes at the back of a movie house from which images of a film are projected. Photographer Joseph O. Holmes is one such individual, and has always wondered about what goes on inside those tiny windows above the audience. Not too many years ago, that curiosity was satisfied, and Holmes hopes to share what he knows through a photo exhibition.

behind the curtain film reel

In it, Holmes is offering others a look at what goes on inside film-projection rooms via a series called The Booth: The Last Days of Film Projection over at the Museum of the Moving Image.

film booth

“My original motivation was, like all the workplaces I shoot, to capture a beautiful place that’s not easy to see without the photos, especially one that’s disappearing,” says Holmes. “These things are going away, so I wanted to preserve what I think is a really beautiful setting.”

film reel booth

Holmes’ was motivated to document the booths with some sense of urgency because of the fact that film projection is slowly being replaced by the newer and more advanced digital technology. A study done by the IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service foresees that digital movies will take the place of film based formats globally by 2015. In fact, CNN reports that most projection booths are already unmanned, and instead are “occupied only by digital projectors and hard drives.”

room film booth

Holmes’ look into this vanishing movie theater component focuses on the gear in the projection rooms, which for him are classic pieces. “Those reels and the projectors and the film and the editing equipment almost feel like they could come from any decade in the last hundred years,” he says. “It feels like tapping into something ancient.”

film reel room

In time he turned his camera on the people behind the equipment, showing projectionists while in their environments. “I think a lot of them like the fact that they’re working by themselves, they’re totally responsible, and they’re the king of that domain. They run that room, and there’s nobody stepping in their time and telling them what to do. It’s a solitary job, but it’s peaceful.”

film booth

See Holmes’ ode to the soon to vanish room in the back, called The Booth: The Last Days of Film Projection here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.