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Reel Stories

Reel Stories is a project set up and run by educational charity digital:works.

Working with the British Film Institute on the South Bank for this project which will be part of our “Working London” series that explores and records the history of various aspects of work in London. Working with historians, local archives and digital-works staff, this project will train volunteers in research skills, oral history interviewing and recording skills.

The project will record oral history interviews with projectionists. and be given to relevant archives including Bishopsgate Institute.

The interviews will be edited to make a documentary film - to be shown at various screenings and broadcast on television - and a series of podcasts.

This project website will house all of the full interviews, the podcasts, the film and cover the progress of the project.


This project is run by digital:works with the support of British Film Institute.

We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their financial support.

digital-works logo

digital:works has been running oral history projects across London working with communities to explore the history of work and workers in the capital. Projects so far include printers on Fleet Street, bus workers, underground workers, black cab drivers, jewellers in Hatton Garden, tailors in Saville Row, the Thames Lightermen, Thames boatyards and more. Other projects explore the history of Battersea, North Kensington, Southall, Eel Pie Island, as well as some of London’s indoor and street markets. If you would like to see any of these wonderful films and find out more about digital:works please visit:

Projectionists, we need you! cinema projectionist

As an oral history this project relies on us finding projectionists able to give up an hour or so of your time to talk about your working history. Interviews will take place at the BFI Southbank or at a place convenient for you. All interviews will be conducted by a small number of people and will exceed industry standard COVID safety guidelines - ie wearing masks and face shields in large well ventilated spaces while ensuring we maintain social distance.

Please get in touch to find out more about the project.
Matthew Rosenberg
tel 07949 107023

Would you like to be part of a team on an oral history project exploring the history of London’s film projectionists?


Arts and education charity digital-works is working on an exciting new National Lottery Heritage Funded project which is part of digital-works' “Working London” series exploring and recording the history of work in London.

Working with digital-works and based at the British Film Institute, volunteers will take part in workshops covering oral history techniques, sound recording, interview training and question development as well as talks and workshops around the history of film projection. The emphasis is on team working and the volunteers will then go on and be part of teams that conduct and record interviews with London’s film projectionists, both those who worked in London’s cinemas but also those who worked to screen films at fringe events showing films that were not able to get screened on mainstream cinemas.

These interviews will be going to archives and will be filmed to make both a documentary and a podcast series.


Our projects are fun and fascinating! If you want try something new, please get in touch. We actively encourage people with absolutely no experience and those from underrepresented communities to volunteer and will give plenty of support throughout the project.

The training will take place on 27th, 28th and 29th September at the British Film Institute on the South Bank and all volunteers must be available on those days. There will be additional days for some visits and interviews but these will be more flexible.

If you are interested in being part of the project team, please contact Sav Kyriacou at:
Tel: 07968 006 321

An Oral History of London's Cinema Projectionists

From the date of the first projected film by the Lumiere Brothers in France in 1895 projectionists have been the behind the scenes technical experts locked up in sound proof rooms, the silhouettes occasionally seen as we look back and up from our cinema seats at the little windows from which are projected the films that have entertained, terrified and beguiled us. The projectors themselves, often Heath Robinson like machines, with film snaking through them, have required great skill and dedication to run. With the recent move to digital projection most cinemas now do not require those skills and we want to record the working lives of projectionists in the heyday of this dying art.

What type of person becomes a projectionist?
What are the skills required and how did they get them?
What are the machines like?
What’s it like, night after night, sitting in that noisy little room, alone, overlooking a theatre full of people.

These and many more are the questions we intend to explore to preserve and share this wonderful history.

Projector© Jorge Royan / CC BY-SA 3.0