Friday, March 14, 2014

Why you should love Wes Anderson and his movies

In case you didn't know, I work a few hours a month at the world renowned Tampa Theatre as a projectionist, a craft I learned under sink-or-swim circumstances when I was hired to manage the box office and concessions at Sarasota's Burns Court Cinema a long, long time ago. My pal Steve knew this about me and sent me this note yesterday:

"Is this a cool move or does it bother you: Instructions for projecting 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. It's instructions from Wes Anderson's people on how to show/project his new movie. I was just curious if as a projectionist you find this uppity or helpful. Or I guess...both."

My answer to Steve, and to anybody else interested in my opinion the matter, is that I think that's very cool and don't have a problem with it at all. It shows that he not only cares about his work but his audience as well. You have to respect a filmmaker that pays that much attention to detail. Over the years, I have assembled hundreds of 35mm prints and presented thousands of movies as a projectionist and I've seen instructions like this maybe three times (I think I received similar instructions for a Woody Allen film back in the '90s, possibly "Bullets Over Broadway"). I won't say that means that most filmmakers don't care about how their work is presented, but very few go to these lengths to make sure it's done right. That's a filmmaker who not only cares about their hard work, but one who genuinely cares that audiences who shell out good money to see it, see it the way it's meant to be seen. Again, I won't say that most filmmakers don't care about their audience, but very few will go this far on their audiences behalf.
A good projectionist takes pride in their work and considers their role in the presentation of a film as important as anyone's who worked on creating it, something I learned from working with and under some truly great projectionists, including Tampa Theatre's Mike Hurley. That might sound overblown and self-important at first, but it's really not, if you think about it. Think of a film as a painting and the movie screen as a frame. Doesn't it make sense that an artist who works hard on a painting wouldn't want somebody doing a shitty job of putting a frame on it? As such, any good projectionist would have no problem with receiving direct communication and precise instructions from the film's director.
The bottom line is, even if you don't consider yourself a fan of Wes Anderson and his quirky, awkward, somewhat dark comedies, you should know that he cares a great deal about his work and how you experience it.

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