Western Film has a long history on campus dating back to the early 80s when it ran as a student club showing movies on the weekend on 16mm film over in Middlesex College.
James Waite is the coordinator of Western Film. He’s been there for 20 years and witnessed most of its history.“Around 1993 we switched to 35mm equipment which at the time is what all theatres used. And in 1994 we moved into the UCC when they renovated it and added the third floor.”
They ran on 35mm film until 2013 when they made the hefty investment to run on digital film. This transition cost $34,000, enough to buy yourself a car!
Film, running 24 frames per second, was a physical medium so it was subject to scratches and damage. It weighed about 60 pounds for each movie, whereas now the digital comes on a lighter hard drive file. As a result, shipping costs have significantly decreased.
For the grand reopening, Western Film put in a new microproof screen, raising the level of the screen to improve sightlines lines. They also improved the sound system.
“We moved the projector to an upper booth. So now when anyone stands up during the movie, they’re not going to become part of the image.”
Most theatres have the speakers positioned behind the screen and holes about the size of a large needle to let the speaker sound through. Western Film put in a microproof screen, which has holes about the size of a pin instead. This devotes less surface area to holes so you get a brighter image as a result.
Just Like Any Other
Western Film basically has the same technology and services as any other Cineplex theatre. The only difference is that they are a second run theatre, “which basically means we have to wait until movies are finished at the first run theatres before we can play them”.
James says that because they wait, they pay less and can charge a lot less, which is why their tickets are only $5.