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Inside An Atlanta Projection Booth: Preserving A Cinematic Tradition

“I love film,” says Ben Ruder. “I’m a projectionist by trade, and I love exposing people to the knowledge that I've been able to acquire.“
“I love film,” says Ben Ruder. “I’m a projectionist by trade, and I love exposing people to the knowledge that I've been able to acquire.“
Credit STEPHANNIE STOKES / WABE

There was a time when you could turn around in your seat at the movie theater and see someone working away up in the booth behind you.

That was the projectionist, a person trained in the art of film screening.

Today their jobs have largely been replaced by computers and digital technology. But here in Atlanta there is still at least one projectionist working to keep the cinematic tradition alive.

Ben Ruder was once a projectionist and manager at the Plaza Theatre, although these days he works independently on his own film screening project, “Enjoy The Film.”

He recognizes he’s pursuing a profession that’s quickly dying out.

“It’s sad,” Ruder says, “but for me it’s an opportunity to expose people to the world of the booth, the medium that is no longer the majority of the experience but is now something to be treasured.”

In this Atlanta Sound, he takes us into the projection booth and explains how, for much of film history, projectionists had to rely on advanced planning and cues in the corner of the screen to present feature-length movies for the audience in the seats down below.