When the ‘revived’ Colonial Theater opened in 2002, I knew I wanted to help in some way. I became a projectionist, which also means I’m in the ticket booth before the movie. That’s what I like best about being a Colonial Theater volunteer—seeing and greeting patrons, both regulars and occasionals, who want to see movies that are not available in the mainstream theaters. I also enjoy the tech aspect of the projection booth, making sure that each movie is run under the best possible conditions. Before the theater went digital, all films were shown on an old-school projector. I would sweat every time I started it up, hoping that all the sprockets were threaded correctly. Mostly it all went fine, but there was this one time…
All the film running through the old projector would come from a large horizontal, spinning feed platter. It would be fed through all the sockets, past the lens, and end up on another spinning take-up platter. In 2005 we were showing ‘Aristide and the Endless Revolution’, about the coup that ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the president of Haiti. All was well for 30 minutes. I was in the audience watching. Then, in horror, I saw the classic screen shot of the frames of the film burning up on the screen in front of me. Rushing upstairs, I saw the projector had seized up. I shut everything down. I had forgotten to flip one little switch on the take-up platter. It had worked for a third of the movie, but eventually it could take up no more. I had to go down and send everybody home.
Overall, though, it’s the sense of community that goes with volunteering that makes this a fun and worthwhile job. I hope to keep volunteering at the Colonial for as long as I can. —Tom Cuddihy
Tom Cuddihy has been a volunteer with The Colonial since we opened our doors in 2002. Every Wednesday you can find him in the Ticket Booth selling two-for-one Buddy Night tickets and projecting our matinee feature film. He’s seen The Colonial through the transition from the 35 millimeter film format to our new digital projector system and sat on our first Board of Directors — we can’t imagine The Colonial without him!!
Tom, thank you for being a stellar volunteer and a part of The Colonial Family!!