“A weathered film print is like a beloved vinyl record,” Steven Bognar writes in The New York Times Opinion. “It’s not that the pops and scratches on an old record sound good — but there’s a romance in knowing that a film print has screened for others. A digital copy of a movie … has no memory, and it has no soul.”
In his Op-Doc, “The Last Reel,” Bognar, an Academy Award-nominated independent filmmaker and a former projectionist at Theater 80 St. Marks in New York City, focuses on the Little Art Theatre, a beloved theater near his home in Dayton, Ohio. Since the Little Art Theatre transitioned to digital in 2013, the head projectionist has had a lot less to do.
Though Bognar said he understands the transition to digital makes practical sense, it is still heartbreaking to see the art of projection fading away. “Part of the heartbreak of this digital transition is feeling the loss of yet another handcrafted profession — of a job that took skill and precision and ingenuity,” Bogner writes.
Watch his Op-Doc below: