Feature

Focus! How to get it fixed.

“FOCUS!”

Projectionist

Don’t storm the projection booth when problems occur–just follow these simple steps

King Theoden and his soldiers are defending the fortress as Helm’s Deep from the bloodthirsty orcs in The Two Towers. Just when Gandalf and his warriors come charging down the hill to save the day..the film grinds to a halt, leaving a theater of sweaty-palmed nerds in agonizing anticipation. What to do? Follow these helpful hints and you should be back in your seat in no time, with your wits intact.

DON’T: Throw food at the screen. Perhaps due to an increase in the frequency of sound or projection problems, this has become a common (albeit decidedly juvenile) reaction to such occurances. But, since professional screen cleaning is a costly undertaking, most theater chains only shell out for the service once or twice a year at most. This means the gummy bear you successfully affix to the screen in a fit of anger could be haunting you for a long time to come.

DON’T: Shout your complaints into the void. True, leading your fellow audience members in a rowdy group chant of “Focus!” or “Lights!!” can make for a fun bonding experience, but it won’t do a bit of good in actually solving any problems. The automated system used these days to start the film projector, dim the lights and adjust the screen means there’s little likelihood anyone is actually standing by as the film begins. And besides, the window between the projection booth and the auditorium is made of thick, soundproof glass (which reduces the noisy clatter of the film projector to little more than a gentle whirr, so as not to distract moviegoers while they’re enjoying a flick). So even if an actual human being were in the vicinity of the projector, he or she wouldn’t hear a word you’re hollering.

DON’T: Wait to make your complaint. Although the pre-show ads and trailers can seem interminable while watching them, there’s actually only about fifteen minutes from the time the lights go down until the film’s opening credits hit the screen. Consider that it will take you a few minutes to track down an employee, a few more to relay the problem to the projection booth, and even more for the projectionist to make his or her way over to rectify the situation. The longer you wait to make your complaint, the greater the likelihood the problem won’t be fixed before the film starts. Sure, it’s easier to sit back and hope management will address the trouble on their own, or to assume someone else will complain. But neither situation is likely to happen. And anyway, the more people who actually expend the energy to complain, the more likely the situation will be addressed in a timely manner.

DO: Take your problem to the appropriate employee. It’s important to find someone who can communicate the problem to the projectionist, either by walkie-talkie or telephone. Skip the concession stand attendants, who will probably be too busy waiting on customers to be of much help. An usher can get the job done, but their nomadic quality sometimes makes them hard to track down. The ticket taker and the guest services desk are always safe bets, as both usually have direct lines of communication available. But the best person to find is a manager. It may take a minute or two longer to find one (check the box office or guest services desk), but they wield the greatest power in making sure problems are solved immediately.

DO: Remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A friendly complaint, especially during the busy peak hours, is guaranteed to have a greater – and, more importantly, faster – effect than a brutal tirade.

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