Jan saw his first film, Stanley Kubric’s “Spartacus” in 70mm, at Cinemateket in 1989 and was hooked immediately. After his friends needed help at their film club, he ended up training as a projectionist at Cinemateket. He has been the in-house ‘Prince of Darkness’ for over twenty years now. As technical manager, he makes sure the museum takes especially good care of the roughly one thousand prints they screen every year.
I like when the directors and cinematographers say that a film looks exactly like it does in their cutting room. Professional cinema should never add or subtract anything - a projectionist’s job is just to communicate the piece and if you do it really well it is not noticed by anyone.
Jan just finished pre-screening three Ingmar Bergman vintages to find ‘the least bad print’. Film gets worn every time you show it, often by improper handling by the projectionist and digitalization has been devastating in making skilled workers, specialised materials, labs and equipment obsolete. These days Cinemateket employs Norway’s only full-time daytime projectionist to work on the two German precision projectors from the sixties.
A movie is played from reels of film, each one about 17 to 22 minutes long. For a feature film the projectionist usually shows five to seven reels, changing them over smoothly without the audience noticing. The possibilities for mishaps are gloriously high and Jan too, has blundered hundreds of times over the years. Making mistakes is a way to learn and that is why a projectionist should get to practice everyday, he says.
In his free time, Jan and his friend Torkell are working on opening a cinema museum in the ‘middle of nowhere’ in Finnskogen.