Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 pm30 5:40pm

Alone in the Dark, Old-School Projectionists Keep Film From the Grave

During the past decade, 90 percent of the world’s movie theaters swapped their analog projectors for glorified computers that play files, not films. In this digital domain, the art of threading film gave way to pushing a button. But as with all technology, some stalwarts cling resolutely to the old ways.

Richard Nicholson celebrates these devotees in his series The Projectionists, a fascinating look at those who continue splicing film and lacing it through projectors long after the industry went digital. He’s explored such themes before in Last One Out, which documented London’s dwindling number of photo enlargers. “Looking closely at analog workspaces can inform us about our contemporary digital lives,” he says. “We are becoming increasingly disembodied. The objects that surround us are losing their materiality.”

His love affair with film started in childhood, watching the Super8 movies his father made. It deepened in college, when he attended the cinema at least three times each week and never hesitated to knock on a projectionist’s door if the film was out of focus. That led to a part-time job as an usher at the Odeon theater in York, where he remembers the projectionists being a somewhat antisocial lot. “It’s a strange job, working in the dark, with hours that allow little social life,” he says.