For 50 years my working life has been involved with motion pictures...on film.
It is therefore not without some sense of nostalgia that I saw the headlines about Kodak filing for bankruptcy.
I knew when I came out of retirement late last year that the cinema I am working at would succumb to the deadline, in about 18 months, when all new movies will only be available for digital projection - no more movies on film. From what I can see all cinemas including large screen format theatres will be digital within a year or so.
To my eye digital projection is at about the same stage as the Compact Disc was when it was first released; not as good as the analogue in some areas, but better in others and with more convenience. Undoubtedly, further development will render further improvements for digital projection in cinemas and for home.
I was lucky, very lucky. My experience in the industry spanned the era from the early 1950's through to the present. Most notable were the large screen presenttions in Cinerama, CinemaScope, TODDAO, and the other 70mm large screen procesess including IMAX.
From a performance art point of view there was nothing like seeing 1-2 thousand people sitting in a theatre waiting for that magic moment when the lights dimmed and the curtains parted to reveal a spectacle that would transport the audience to another world, time, space, or all three.
Sadly most of the cinemas of today have no sense of showmanship, being forced to survive commercially by selling foul popcorn and ice cream at exorbitant prices. My current cinema is a real joy, as it has one of the largest Wurlitzer organs in the Southern hemisphere.
It's great fun to watch the organ rise out of its concealed pit with the organist playing away for all he or she is worth, whilst I dim the lights to set the mood.
Last Friday night, at midnight, we screened Rocky Horror Picture Show to 400 screaming fans. The manager, organist and I decided to do a presentation at the start with me playing Riff Raff. I really didn't need any makeup, but I decided to gild the Lily anyway.
Here is an atmospheric photo of your trusty orang-utan made up to look like an aging Riff Raff. I think I look more like a zombie. And yes, that is my own hair, I didn't need the Riff Raff wig.
During the screening, I wandered around the theatre and sat alongside members of the audience as they threw rice and toast etc., at each other. Some of the expressions on their faces were priceless. We had a great fun night and the evening raised a huge amount of money, so we are going to do it again on the next Friday 13th with some different antics.
I should add that the theatre is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers of the Theatre Organ Society who owns the theatre, with the projectionist and manager being the only paid employees. Naturally I didn't charge them for my performance as Riff Raff. (I wasn't projectionist for the show that night.)
I managed to tell the audience about one of our currently screening movies, The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher who was just a jump to the Right.