This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Cinema projectionists operate film projectors and sound equipment in movie theatres.
Cinema projectionists usually earn
$16-$24 per hour
Pay for cinema projectionists varies, but they usually earn between minimum wage and $24 an hour.
What you will do
Cinema projectionists may do some or all of the following:
- splice (join) and unsplice film
- load films into projectors
- screen films
- adjust the focus and sound while the film is playing if necessary
- maintain equipment.
Skills and knowledge
Cinema projectionists need to have:
- ability to look after a movie projector
- ability to cut and splice film
- knowledge of basic electronics and mechanics
- technical skills to operate equipment.
- usually work in shifts, mainly at night and on weekends
- work in movie theatres.
What's the job really like?
Lincoln King - Cinema Projectionist
How did you get into this role?
"When I was 18, I used to hang out in the movie theatre a lot. I got talking to one of the projectionists and they were looking to train someone, so they asked me whether I wanted to work there."
Has the shift to digital made a big difference?
"The place where I work will probably continue to show film – it'll be a nostalgia cinema – whereas the bigger cinemas will probably go completely digital. They might just have one back-up guy who's on call if anything breaks down.
"One thing is that with digital, you still have the servers to look after – I'm lucky, because I've got a good background in computers and digital stuff."
What do you enjoy most?
"Watching films! I pretty much watch most of what we play here, and then I'll still go and watch films at other places as well!"
There are no specific requirements for becoming a cinema projectionist, as skills are learned on the job.
Cinema projectionists need to be:
- able to work alone
- careful when handling film and film equipment.
Attention to detail is pretty important because every time you thread up a film, you’ve got to make sure that it’s done properly – otherwise you can ruin the film, which is really expensive.
Kate Larkindale - Cinema Projectionist
Useful experience for cinema projectionists includes:
- work as an audiovisual operator
- other work using and handling film
- work with digital film technology.
Cinema projectionists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), good hearing, and good hand-eye co-ordination to keep films in focus.
Find out more about training
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting part-time work are highest at multiplex cinemas, where most of the staff are students, and tend to stay in the job for a short time only.
Changing technology means less demand for cinema projectionists to do specialised tasks
The type of work cinema projectionists do is changing, as more cinemas shift to easy-to-use digital technology.
This means the need for cinema projectionists to do specialised tasks, such as splicing film reels, is decreasing, particularly in multiplex cinemas. Instead, they are spending more time doing customer service duties such as selling food and tickets.
Cinema projectionist employers range in size
Cinema projectionists work for different types of cinemas, ranging from small, independent arthouse cinemas to large multiplexes.
- Collie, B, technical manager, Light House Cinemas, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2013.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Progression and specialisations
Cinema projectionists may progress to work in supervisory or managerial roles.
At some cinemas, projectionists may move into the role of technical manager, which involves managing digital film files and fixing technical problems.
Last updated 9 June 2017