Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Extra-large Popcorn and Martini? A Cinephile's Pilgrimage.

Back in early 2010, my girlfriend Miranda and I saw Facts on Projection, a great short video by Temujin Doran about his experience as a projectionist at Screen on the Green, a repertory cinema in London, England:

We were so inspired, we immediately made a plan to visit Screen on the Green, just so we could say “Hey Temujin, you inspired us!” Needless to say, we booked our tickets.

A few short months later, we were standing in line at the London cinema. It’s safe to say this was probably the best experience I have ever had at a movie theatre. Instead of filing us all in like Kodak slides, the theatre was designed to have a seating capacity of only 125 people. In lounging terms, that means 75 reclining soft individual seats and 48 premier sofa seats with pillows and foot rests. You even get a side table for your martini.

That’s right.


As well as your traditional concessions of popcorn and pop, Screen on the Green serves martinis, fancy appetizers, and a medley of delicious desserts. When our order was ready, it was a nice touch that they brought it right to our seating arrangement.

So what did we see? Kick-Ass. We enjoyed the film, but I remember being more entranced by the preface of vintage concession advertising and rating spots before the trailers. You don’t see those too often.

After the film, we mentioned to the concierge that we were Canadian tourists and that we had been inspired by Temujin’s video to come visit. It was debatable whether we were more excited or she was. But then she became crestfallen.

Temujin was not working that night.

But our journey was not for nought. After learning that I also worked in a similar theatre, she rallied the troops and gave us a friendly tour of the upstairs projectionist booth. I observed that the staircase steps were short and narrowly pitched, likely a result of the old London architecture. I imagined how hard it must be to carry those heavy film cans to the booth.

Because we missed Temujin, I wrote him a note saying that we were from Guelph, Ontario, and that his video was our inspiration for visiting the Screen on the Green. I told him we had a great time and I left the note on the projector.

A year later, I received this email:

Sept 27, 2011

Dear David,

My name is Temujin, I'm the projectionist at Screen on the Green, and on Sunday, whilst the new digital projector was being installed, a small note on lined paper was found behind the sound tower.

It was from you and Miranda, and I think you dropped it into the cinema some time ago, whilst I was not working.

Well, I've just now got it! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'm sorry I missed you. I'm really glad you liked the film.

Alas, I don't really work at the cinema much any more. The projectionists were phased out (after being told to teach the managers how to use the digital projectors). I do still have many friends there though, and sometimes get to go back and project the old 35mm 'retro' films.

Mostly now I do drawing and film work. I've got a website, where I've been putting a few more films - it's here (if you get a chance to have a look).

Thanks again for your wonderful message, and if I'm about Guelph, I shall surely pop in and say hello!

All the best.


 - David Kucherepa

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