The Nostalgia Is Thick in This Short About 35mm Projection and The Monster Squad

Image: Vimeo
Image: Vimeo

35mm Monsters, a new short film by director Remington Smith
, is incredibly simple. It’s about a projectionist who threads the 35mm trailer for The Monster Squad in a movie theater. That’s it. But in that simplicity, there’s so much to be said.

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Smith’s film revels in nostalgia not just for The Monster Squad, which turned 30 this year, but 35mm projection, too—an art unto itself that has become an endangered species at your local cinema.

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“I had just been hired to teach film production at my alma mater and in the first week of teaching I also found out the 35mm projectors I worked with in undergrad were going to be dismantled,” Smith writes in a press release. “They didn’t know when, so I just had to start filming.”

“I wanted to share with [the kids] what it was like to touch movies, to assemble this magic with your hands. So when I found out the projectors were being dismantled it forced me to finally make this project.”

And it was maybe by fate that Smith, who first theatrical memory was seeing The Monster Squad, had recently purchased the trailer on eBay as a novelty. He put two and two together and the result is 35mm Monsters, a simple little film about preserving and remembering the past.

[Vimeo]

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

thekeith82
thekeith82

I was a cinema projectionist back in the 35mm era. Which seems a ridiculous thing to say when that era only ended five years ago. But it was the best job I ever had, for the most part.

I never had to deal with any of the public, and I didn’t have to wear shoes if I didn’t want. I spent a lot of my time reading books and playing pokemon. Hands up if that sounds like your ideal career.

But the actual film part of the job? It was great. Automation tape and chinagraph pencils and mech grease and belkote. I will remember how it smelled and sounded until the day I die. You could put me in front of a projector right now and I could lace it up in under a minute on pure muscle memory.

Avengers was the last big release before the chain I worked for went fully digital. I actually worked the close on the last night we ran 35mm. All of us signed one of the platters as a goodbye to film, and we mounted it on the wall. The area manager came in a few weeks later and said it was an amazing tribute. Six months later, the same area manager came in and decided he didn’t like it, so it got thrown away.

I’ve still got a box of lenses and assorted bits I stole before the projectors all got taken away. And a couple of frames of film in my wallet. Always a cool little thing to pull out at parties. “this was called a lab splice. We had to check the reels for these and cut them out cos this bit here is the soundtrack. If we left these in, there would be a big pop sound as there passed through. It’s where the film lab joined two reels together”

Good times. I’m mildly proud to be someone who participated in what is already becoming a lost art. Not the reason most marketable skill these days, but maybe in twenty years I’ll end up in some little boutique cinema with my hands on an ancient print, one of the last people around who actually knows what to do with it...