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Mallala Institute Projectors

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Fast Facts
Type of thing Business
Date made or found
The date "c. 1920" was not understood.
Place used Mallala Institute
Current location Mallala Museum
Used in Silent and sound movie projection
Ceased use 1965

In the early days of the Mallala Picture Theatre, the business was owned and run by East Bros in the Mallala Institute.

The screen was at the front entrance to the hall. The stage area was the dress circle, and as the East family was fairly prolific, had most of the seats there on sparrow’s tickets, whilst the general public sat at floor level.

During the early 1940s 'Premier Talkies' of Riverton commenced the showing of pictures at the Mallala Institute. Mr Len Mullins was the projectionist, who with his assistant and a small panel van travelled the country areas and presented their film programmes on a weekly basis. Their equipment was portable, and each week, usually on a Friday, they would arrive mid morning and set up their projectors and sound system for the evening screening.

In 1946 these projectors, which showed standard 35mm feature films, were installed in the projection room at the Institute and were used for showing the films on Saturday night until the closure of picture nights.

The projectors were manufactured in the 1920s to show 'silent films'. With the advent of 'sound films' in the late 1920s, the projectors were modified to run at a greater speed (from 16 frames per second to 24 frames per second). Sound heads were also fitted to pick up the sound from the film sound tracks as well as an amplifier and loud speaker. At the back of both projectors are lamp houses in which carbon rods were electrified to produce a very bright light that is required to show films onto the large screen.

The two projectors were necessary when showing feature films. Each reel would take only 20mins and as there could be 5-7 reels in a feature, an uninterrupted switch meant going from one projector to the other.

The procedure required skill so that the audience would not notice the swapover.

During the mid 1950s, the Institute took over the running of the pictures and the projection equipment was purchased by the Institute Committee. The projection room floor had to be cemented and a separate film rewind and storage area built to comply with regulations. A new cinemascope screen was installed, together with movable black surrounds so that varying picture formats could be screened. The projection equipment was assembled and fitted with new cinemascope lenses to enable the flood of Cinemascope films to be screened.

Picture shows continued well into the 1960s, but soon, with the advent of Television, there was a gradual decline in audiences. Instead of weekly shows they became fortnightly, and then monthly, until the situation became uneconomical for the film nights to continue.

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Institute Picture Theatre
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At the Mallala Museum the Institute Projectors are in the background.  2007 May School Visit
At the Mallala Museum the Institute Projectors are in the background. 2007 May School Visit

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