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The Balcony Booth

July 28, 2011

This ghost story requires some film projectionist jargon. It takes place in a very old movie theater.

Soooo.. It’s 1993. I’m in a student at VA Tech and working as a projectionist at an old theater in Roanoke, Va… The Grandin. The Grandin was a 5-screen art house at the time.. I think it still is. The original theater was in-tact except for the balcony which had been split down the middle, walled off and turned into two more screens. Also, the old businesses next to the theater had been turned into small (30-50 seat) theaters we called “screening rooms.”

It’s Thursday night after close. Actually, it’s early Friday morning, about 3:00 am. I’ve been breaking down movies that are leaving and building up ones that started the next day (Friday) for about four hours. My fellow employee, Mark, had been helping me move some of the films from one booth to the other.

The theater had four booths, one for the original screen, one for the two balcony screens, and one for each screening room. This story involves the balcony booth. Of course, I had heard stories previously that the original manager of the theater had died in the booth back in the 1920’s or so.

The Balcony booth was THE ORIGINAL booth for the theater when it was originally built. There was a simple mechanism installed on the projectors in this booth that triggered an alarm downstairs in the box office when the movie accidentally shut off… (IE film break, mechanical malfunction.)

I was wrapping up downstairs, I had left the balcony booth 30+ minutes earlier. Mark was wrapping up as well. We were 5 minutes from walking out the door. All of a sudden, one of the projector alarms from the balcony booth lit up and started buzzing. I was confused at first since I had already turned everything off up there half and hour ago. Mark and I figured it was nothing, but decided to investigate. We walked up the two flights of stairs to get to the booth. As we neared the door we both heard the sound of the film platter slowing down and coming to a stop. We entered the booth and found nothing out of order. We were completely freaked out at the sound of the machinery stopping before entering and ran back downstairs to the lobby. As soon as we passed by the alarm box, the SECOND projector’s alarm went off! The light lit, and the buzzer started blaring. THERE WAS NOTHING ON UPSTAIRS. THE BREAKERS WERE OFF.

We ran the fark out of there that night.

– Posted by skylabdown; Fark

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