We have some brilliant and interesting volunteers here at the charity who have a passion for helping those in the industry. We’d love to shine the light on one of those volunteers today and as it’s Cinemacom in Vegas this week, we thought who better to talk to than retired cinema manager – Arthur Frost.
A reitred Chief Projectionist and Manager at various cinema, he’s not only seen how cinemas have adapted and changed since the 50’s but Arthur has been a volunteer with the Film and TV Charity for just over 20 years!
When did you start going to the cinema?
“The cinema was somewhere to go to socialise and experience something exciting. From the age of 6 I attended Saturday Picture Club The Picture House Old Kent Road, South London and by 12 I was a part-time Page Boy.”
Page boys were employed by some cinemas to promote the cinema and what films were showing.
Did you always want to work at the cinema?
“I knew that when he left school I wanted to work in the cinema, specifically in the projection room, and after leaving school at 15 and a half years old I got a role in the projection room as a trainee.”
Being a projectionist in the 50’s was very different to what it looks like now and often much more physical. You would handle raw film, make joins and sometimes, if the film itself was damaged, edit the film on the spot and if there was a separate disc for music, line it up so it was in sync for the audience watching the film.
“I went from trainee to be promoted to operator to second projectionist, to chief projectionist and eventually (but reluctantly) became manager of cinema, which I then did for 20 years. I liked being in the projection room, when I became a manager I just spent a lot of time in the office.”
Arthur has lived through the trials and tribulations of the ever-changing face of cinema.
He saw first-hand when the norm of B&W movies became colour, and when it looked like TV would be the end of cinema, cinema took back control by offering a new ‘wide-screen’ experience, bringing out technologiucal advancements like IMAX through to 3D films.
What do you think the future of cinema looks like?
“Cinema is an unbeatable experience but gone are the days of presentation with screen curtains. With the likes of Netflix showing films so quickly these days, and some not even getting a cinema release it is hard for cinemas to compete, I think holograms may be the next change in cinemas.”
The times are changing, the viewers are changing, and the need of the entertainment is also changing. Holographic cinema could be the new entertainment factor cinemas may be able to offer.
Do you still go to the cinema?
“I still love going to the cinema but it’s not always easy as my wife is now disabled, so we tend to watch movies from home. But you can’t beat watching a film in the cinema”
What are you up to nowadays apart from volunteering for us?
“After 55 years in cinema I retired. I was warned I wouldn’t enjoy it, and they were wrong about that… for the first three months. I quickly realised I love to be in the hustle and bustle, talking to people and helping where I can. So I’m volunteering at a few places and am currently the Chairman, Walk Leader & Nordic walking instructor for You’ll Never Walk Alone Group.”
Arthur came to volunteer for the charity because both his mum and dad worked in cinemas and were assisted by us (CTBF is what we were previously known as) and he wanted to give back. In his time here, he has helped hundreds of people. We’ve been extremely lucky to have him.
We’re currently not taking on new volunteers but you can make a huge difference to someone working in the industry by donating.
A few of the artists Arthur met along the way: –
Arthur Askey – Tommy Trinder – Ella Fitzgerald – Count Basie – Lambert Hendricks & Ross – Dickey Henderson – Buddy Holly – Nina & Frederick – Tom Hanks – James Stewart – Danny Kaye – Diana Dors – Lionel Blair – Alf Ramsey & the 1971 England squad – Liz Taylor & Richard Burton – Cliff Richard – Dennis Norden – Jimmy Tarbuck – Barbara Woodhouse – Richard Branson – Cannon & Ball – Paul Daniels and many more.