Earlier this year, you may have read Pride & Projectionist, a blog post I'd written in response to a column by Alex O'Connell of The Times. It highlighted the plight of the projectionist in an age of digitalisation. In it, O'Connell anticipated that as film studios begin to favour digital film over 35mm for its practical and economical sense, many others will follow suit. The 35mm vs. Digital debate rages on among film fans, but there's no denying that if further studios decide to film and release on digital, cinemas who want to retain their level of choice will be forced to adapt.
In light of this, I was asked by the Guildhall's programmer to help gather some information as part of a survey they were carrying out throughout this week. The Guildhall currently has the facility to show films on 35mm and DVD, but has yet to convert to the digital format the studios have already begun to favour. Pre-empting that further studios will hop on the digital bandwagon, we asked viewers after a screening of Monsieur Lazhar various questions surrounding the sound and picture quality of the film. It was only a little later in the survey that we revealed that the film had been presented on DVD. The aim of the survey was to gain a sense over the adequacy of Guildhall's current facilities going forwards. A sort of temperature check to ascertain the immediacy of the problem, if indeed there is one.
The people I had spoken to (though admittedly, it was only two) were none the wiser as to the format of the film. The sense I got was that very few people can actually tell the difference between DVD and 35mm, while even fewer would have cause to complain about it. However, the fact remains that we are on the cusp of a digital revolution and - ironically, as is the case for all "undigitalised" cinemas across the country - no one wants to be left in the dark once the lights go down.
The day after I helped with the survey, I sat down to write a letter to the local paper. If the Guildhall is given no option than to go digital, it requires an investment that far exceeds Gloucester City Council's normal allocation. It is partly because of this that I chose to write the letter; the Guildhall would need full public and council backing before this scale of investment is agreed. My letter should be no great surprise to the people who use its facilities; it merely points out what already exists. Nevertheless, I do hope my letter helps to attract new visitors to Gloucester Guildhall and impassions existing visitors to fly the Guildhall's flag.
I was pleased to find that my letter appeared in Saturday's copy of The Citizen. I should imagine the weekend edition of any local paper enjoys an increased readership when compared to its weekday issues. The more the merrier.