In Conversation: Jimmy Anderson 1980 – Present

Interviewee: Jimmy Anderson
Interviewer: Christina Reading
Date: Monday 8 March 2010

Jimmy Anderson Audio

Digital projection.
Jimmy is the Technical manager at the Duke of York’s cinema and is responsible for all aspects of projection work, both 35mm and digital. This means ensuring that films are ready to show as well as preparing for live shows, seminars and satellite link ups.

Jimmy describes how a digital projector has recently been installed in the projection room along side the traditional 1950’s projector and this change has transformed his job. He estimates that about 75% of the films shown at the Duke of York’s are now digital.

R: We still show 35mm film we are not totally digital so when 35 mm arrives
basically it has to be checked by hand to make sure there is nothing wrong with the film so that involves rolling the film on frame by frame, checking each frame and joining the reels because they come in small reels joining them all together putting them on X equipment and basically making sure that that film is capable of going through that projector however many times it needs to go through without breaking or coming off. I want to make sure that when I leave the cinema that film isn’t going to break or go off . The digital side of it is pretty much like loading your hard drive at home. The film arrives on a hard drive and your transfer the films over – copy them over when that’s done you then write a small programme to make the projector run and show the film. Its basically, whereas 35mm is all manual , digital is automatic c. You write programmes and it’s all done by computer.

This change has enabled Jimmy to train managers to use digital projection, and this has an important aspect of a managers current role .

However Jimmy suggests that digital films are unlikely to completely replace 35mm films because there are still some film directors , who prefer their films to be shown in 35mm. Jimmy likens the transformation from 35mm to digital to the transformation from vinyl to CD.

‘it won’t go away , it never will and I hope it doesn’t its part of cinema history.’
digital is HD format – so its high definition quality which is obviously pristine ,its super focused, super clear and that’s fine for 90% of the stuff but I , have noticed that there are certain films probably don’t look right when they shown as digital. There is something about 35mm – the graininess of the film, the way that it looks on screen to what digital looks, digital is sometimes just to clean but again”

Jimmy contrasts the nature of his work today with the work he did when he first started work at the Dukes in the early 1980’s when the work was more physically demanding.

“Oh that was much, much harder work because you where literally when one reel finished and the other one was o , you would have 20 minutes to rewind that other reel and get that back on and lace up the next reel , so by the time that you had done that you had to lace up the next reel .You were on your feet all day long, pretty much its not like nowadays, it’s a lot easier now”.

New audiences
Since Cinecity took over in 1993 introducing changes in programming and attracting new audiences Jimmy thinks that the DOY has gone from strength to strength.

“the live operas, they are attracting a new kind of audience, a very middle class audience that probably wouldn’t normally come to often to the cinema at least not this cinema and stuff They come in with their opera clothes, their long dresses, it’s a different kind of audience. We also do a Kids shows on a Saturday morning there are not to many cinemas that do that and we , sometimes have 200 children in there on a Saturday morning. It’s amazing. Then we do things like mother and baby shows on a Wednesday morning “.

Jimmy’s career
Jimmy got his first job as a projectionist at the Vogue cinema in the Lewes Road after stepping in for a projectionist who hadn’t turned up for work. His career in cinema projection progressed from there.

“I was up there one afternoon and the projectionist never turned up for work and the manager literally came up to me and said you could help us out could you? The projectionist hasn’t turned up – I know you have been going up there . Do you think you could get the film started? . Do you know how to start the film? I said well I kind of do . He said I’ll give you £ 5 if you can run the film for me because we have an audience in there waiting to see the film. I though well £5 , that was a lot of money then. That was at the Vogue in the Lewes Road. Bless him the guy , the dear old manager John Hammond he was such a lovely fellow and he got in such a panic because he had no projectionist and I had to help him out , tried to help him out and I got the film on the screen until the relief projectionist got in, it took him 1/2hr to get to the cinema. So I saved the day ! Basically that got me a job , because after that ,a couple of months after, that I had just left school and he came up to me and said look , you know do you want a job when you leave school as a projectionist.”

Jimmy moved on to the Duke of York’s in the early 1980’s after the Vogue cinema closed down.

“Frank Wright got a job there first ( DOY ) when the Vogue closed because he worked both cinemas together as well as here (DOY). He got a job here. He was the guy that I learnt everything from, – When I say I was self taught he was my mentor definitely so he got a job here. I was happy for him because he was older than me, had been in the job longer than me. I was 22 in 1980 and my wife was pregnant with our first daughter so I knew I had to go and get a job, I think I got a job working for NCP car parks, before getting the job here there just wasn’t any jobs around, if you weren’t trained”

The move to art house .

During his time at the Duke of York’s , Jimmy witnessed some significant moments in its history. Notably ,its move from a cinema showing second run movies in the 1970’s to art house cinema in the early 1980’s .

“ Then when it was taken over it was turned into a kind of art house cinema and it was something new for Brighton and good because it was a student town. We had never had an art cinema before or a contemporary film cinema. That’s what got it up and moving again I suppose.”

However, in the early 1992 the cinema plunged into difficult times, going into liquidation in 1992. A financial crisis forced the DOY into liquidation in 1993 . Although wages were paid, Jimmy felt uncertain whether his job would survive. Although this period was clearly quite stressful in some ways, the Dukes retained its air of being a fun place to work.

“It( the DOY’s) was run by every body and anybody. It was quite a strange period. We had people coming in who were students, it was managed by students, there was no proper manager no proper structure and it was quite chaotic at times but, actually quite good fun in some ways as well. It was a completely different way of life and it was all the 1980’s then and the early 1990s were quite, it was very student orientated. It was really weird but it survived. I don’t know how sometimes– it just did. It was quirky and different and people would have all their friends come in and the place was over friendly and over super cool it was just like the place to be and it still is of course. ! “We just had a bit of fun and that’s kind of what happened. Too much fun sometimes!”.

For the future, the DOY would like to expand to allow it to show alternative content such as satellite screenings, and live bands alongside its film programme .
“we sometime show too much for the size of the cinema so that’s why we are hoping to expand ….and we do need to because the cinema is now too small for what we do it can’t cope sometimes with the massive amount of things we need to put on and we want to put on more stuff “.. Because if we expand we can get anything up to 5 screens at some point of various sizes . The various alternative content that we show can be split amongst them. Because we often show films that don’t warrant 350 seats , that we have here. You need to put these shows on. You know you are only going to get 100 people for them or something like that but you need still to put those shows on and do them so therefore those kind of things could go into another one of the smaller screens and be put on there” .

Whatever the future holds the DOY continues to be important to the local community
“Off the top of my head and my experience over the years I would probably say 60% are local and when I say local I mean within Brighton centre. Within a 2/3 mile radius I would say. Other than that – I know we get people from all over Sussex coming , we have had situations where we have had to change a film from the one advertised – it happens and you get people saying ‘ oh god I have just come all the way from Lewes… East Borne to see that its not on ” . And often we do show stuff that’s not on for a 50mile radius of Brighton. Sometimes we have shows that ere not even on in London, so if you have got that there are always going to be those people who will travel to see it.”

Finally Jimmy comments
“I think its fabulous that the cinema is 100 years old, absolutely brilliant. I have been here 30 year’s, this is my 30 year in fact. I will have been here 30 years in the August and this will have been 100 years in the September so we almost have the same birthday. So it was 70 years old when I came here, I have been here 30 years and this is my second home. I have lived here for 30 years just as much as I have lived at home. I love her and I hope she survives another 100 years.”

If you would like to listen to the full audio interview please contact Christina Reading

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