I've got an opportunity to pitch for a piece of work and basically the job is to create a 90 second short about a cinema for a cinema. This is a local gig, the cinema in question likes me a lot both as a person and as a film maker. The only problem is that I'm right in the middle of writing a book, developing a new feature project and rewriting another feature script. Creatively I'm stretched a bit thin. By this I mean I haven't got any ideas and the deadline is looming.
So, what I'm looking for are true stories of things that have happened to people in the cinema, shared with me on the understanding that I might take the idea and develop it into a 90 second script.
All I can offer in return is my eternal gratitude and a credit (Along the lines of "inspired by an original idea from ...)
12-22-2005, 03:31 PM
Everything is true in this story so you get the added advantage of saying "BASED ON A TRUE STORY." I used to manage movie theaters in Upstate New York and, with manageing them, I was also the projectionist. Old 35mm reels that had one change-over (watch for the little circle in the corner ... first circle ... turn on projector #2 ... second circle ... switch it over). We would get the reels shipped by bus in roughly 4-6 cannisters and would have to splice them together (with the trailers) into the full-length movie. I would have to do this a couple times a month depending on the popularity of the picture.
So, one month we're lucky enough to get The Color Purple. A great Spielberg movie that ran almost 3 hours. We were expecting a sold out crowd on opening night so we put extra people on. The theater held 400 patrons and we popped more popcorn than we would need for the two shows that would run. Concessions were ready. I was in my maroon blazer and bow tie.
The night of the premier proved to be just what we expected. Lines (cues, to you) around the corner for a sold out venue. Popcorn and soda being sold in great quantities. Myself, the manager, walking around like I was somehow responsible for the success ... waving at my staff as they rushed to fill orders.
All people get to their seats and I turn down the lights and begin the previews. On a regular night , I could retire to my office and nap for 2 hours until the movie ended. This wasn't a regular night.
60 minutesd into the movie, I climbed the spiral staircase to the booth to do the change over. One circle .. two circle .. no problem. Second half of the movie was on. Back to my office.
Within minutes there was a knock on my office door. One of my employees had said a few customers were complaining about the movie. That something was wrong. Being the man-in-charge that I was, I walked out of my office to see a dozen people milling around in the lobby. I proceeded to ask them what the problem was.
"The movie is in the wrong order," one man replied.
"Wrong order? What do you mean?"
"The ending is happening before the beginning of the second half."
My heart sank into my gut as more people migrated from the theatre.
"Are you sure?" I asked, hoping for an answer I knew I wouldn't get. He pointed through the door to the theater.
"Well the credits are rolling and the movie is only half done."
One-by-one hundreds of people came out of the theatre demanding a refund. The really tragic part of this was that in order for me to keep my job, I had to follow the refund policy of matching every ticket stub with the torn half we had in the box office. Meanwhile, as my now angry patrons and employees snarled at me I had to go back in the booth, rewind the second reel, find my splices and put the movie back together again in the right order before the next show. Needless to say, I didn't show my face at all during that showing.
In the end (no pun intended) it all worked out but that's a night I don't want to go through again. Not sure if this inspires you ... I also have a story about reselling large popcorn cups retrieved from the trash in order to pocket the money ... but that story's a bit gross.
12-22-2005, 04:02 PM
The lights had already dropped when Bill, Jeff and I entered the cinema. We had come to see two particularly bad movies in a row for sheer blood-sport, and I was carrying an arsenal of snacks, as well as a 12-pack of Coca Cola we had deftly smuggled past the cinema concierge.
Seeing a full theatre as far as the dim light went, we began the long trek up to the summit.
Arriving in total darkness as the trailer to some dark movie played, we encountered a wall of black.
Jeff was the first one to stumble onto the woman sitting in the backrow, smack in the center of the aisle. He fell on the woman's lap, and rolled to the side, finding an empty seat next to her husband.
Bill was next- tripping on her legs, and taking the seat next to Jeff.
The trailer ended, and in total darkness, I called out softly: "Is there anyone there? I can't see? Hello?"
I call again: "Is there anyone in front of me?"
Nothing. I took a step forward, and the 12-pack of Coke swung with me... directly into the woman's face.
It hit her square under the jaw, and she let out an exasperated cry. I rolled to the side and found the empty seat just a few down.
The "feature presentation" screen came up, and Jeff, sitting next to the (now irate) woman's husband, heard her exclaim: "That idiot just hit me in the face!"
And much to our surprise, her husband replied: "Well.... maybe you should've said somthing, honey!"
And that's how good marriages go bad.... needless to say, they did not stay for the whole movie...
Not really an "inspiring" story, but a story nonetheless.
12-22-2005, 08:00 PM
About 3 weeks ago, I saw DERAILED at our local theater...
As usual, at least a quarter of the people in the theater were talking on their cellphones... "No problem," I thought... "Of course, these nice people will shut them down once the movie begins..."
As the beginning of the movie started to play, I counted 4 patrons blabbing away on their cellphones... The girl closest to me was actually giving the person on the other end a BLOW-BY-FUCKING-BLOW of the film as it played...
I couldn't take it anymore...
I stood up and yelled, "TURN OFF THOSE FUCKING CELL PHONES OR I'LL TURN IT OFF FOR YOU!"
Within seconds, all the cellphones were shut down and the rest of the crowd applauded me...
12-22-2005, 08:26 PM
Poke and I were projectionists at a movie theater a few years ago. Between us, we have dozens of stories. In fact, Poke met his wife while working at a movie theater.
Once I found a wallet while cleaning a theater. I gave it to a police officer that was patrolling that night. He opened the wallet to check the ID and see if he could find the man. It turns out, the guy had LSD strips in the inside of wallet. The cop ran his name and found he had warrents. The guy came back for his wallet that night and was arrested.
12-23-2005, 12:15 AM
Thanks guys these are all excellent. They've also reminded me of a story of my own.
In the eighties you were still allowed to smoke in cinemas, in fact I think it was compulsory. Because of this all the cinema seats used to have a little ashtray. It was actually in the back of the seat in front of you.
At the time I used to practically chain smoke Malboro. So, anyway I settle in, the film starts and I light up. There I am watching the film, flicking my ash into the ashtray and everything is fine until I go to stub out the butt. That's when I discover that someone had ripped out the little metal ashtray and that in the dark I've now pushed a lit Malboro into the hole, where it's dropped into the seat. Not only that, it's obvious that someone has also been pushing sweet wrappers into the hole as well.
I push my fingers as far in as I can to try and retrieve my potentaily smoldering cigarette, but it's fallen too far. This puts me in a bit of a dilemma, because there is somone sitting in the seat in front of me and on one hand it might be about to go up in flames, but if it isn't I don't want to ruin the film for them.
After fretting about it for a few minutes I come up with a plan. I've got a can of coke with me so I decide that if the seat looks like it's going to go up in flames I'll pour the coke down the hole. And this is how I spend the rest of the film, feeling the back of the chair in front of me to see if it's getting warm with my can of coke poised to save the day.
At the end of the film the lights came up and there on the floor under the chair was my cigarette stub. It had fallen all the way through!
These stories are definitely helping. Thanks guys.
12-23-2005, 11:59 AM
We had about 4 or 5 projectionists when I was working, and we all had ghost stories about working in the booth late at night. Our projection booth was huge (it was a 16 screen) and it had many corners and dark spots. The dark spots, coupled with reflections of projector light, projector noise, and working until 3:00 a.m. by yourself usually played tricks on your mind. And I swear, I saw a cat in the booth one night and it faded into the wall as I saw it. I started a movie, checked everything, and then turned around and froze for a split second because I saw something sitting near the wall, and it was cat that quickly faded in the wall. I'm sure it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but it was so real for half a second. I was freaked out the rest of the night. And I think one of the other guys told me he had saw a cat too.
Oh, and to have a little fun preying on each other's fear of ghosts, someone took a cardboard cut-out of Danny DeVito from a promotional display and hid it around the dark corners of the booth. You would be walking around, and all of the sudden, Bam! Danny DeVito in your face! It would scare the crap out of you every time. You’d hear a noise, then you would walk around and see this silhouette of a person, and it would just spook you for a split second. It became a game of who could hide Danny DeVito the best to scare the others. It even went so far that Danny DeVito became dressed in an employee shirt and pants to add realism.
12-23-2005, 01:25 PM
I also worked as a projectionist one summer. And yes, every Thursday night we had to stay and watch the new movies (after hours) to make sure I spliced them correctly. While we were prepping the theater for "A Nightmare On Elm Street 4," we turned off all the lights in the building except for the emergency exit lights and cranked the Halloween soundtrack throughout. After a while -- it will get to you!
The best part, though, was that we were sent a full Freddie costume as a promotional for the movie. When the movie premiered on Friday (and for a while after), I would dress up in the mask, sweater, and claw-glove up in the projection booth. Right after the trailers (just before the movie) I would kill the projector. Of course, everyone would turn around to look...and there was Freddie in the projection booth! After I restarted the movie, I would run down to the theater and run up and down the aisles terrorizing the patrons. One girl actually got down on the floor (eww) and crawled under the seat in front of her to get away from me.