Neil Johnson

Following a train journey of several hours I arrived at the Blackie around 5.30pm on Friday November 30th 1977. By 6.30pm I found myself participating in a weekly staff meeting that lasted until 3.00 a.m. I was tired and hungry and that was my welcome to Liverpool. This experience meant that I never forgot that date.
I played hundreds of staff games at the Blackie and always remember being happy or satisfied with my contribution. Soon I learnt that as Samuel Beckett said “Try, fail, try again, fail better. The games always revealed or tested your personality. My conclusion was that being aware of a degree of failure was positive.
During 1985/86 I was part of the Blackie team who took the “Game of Art“ to the Leadmill in Sheffield. I spoke with a journalist who somehow concluded from my interview, that the Blackie was full of hippies from Liverpool who all ‘stood on chairs in darkened rooms singing Tina Turner songs.’ A complete misrepresentation of what I had said.
Since the late 1980’s I have been a projectionist/technician in various cinemas on Merseyside. I ensure everything runs smoothly from the opening curtain to the end of the show. I do the things that most people don’t think about in a cinema. I have to ensure that the right film appears at the right time and the right way up.
My achievements can be found in my understanding of the film process. A film print passes through a 35mm film projector at the rate of 12 frames per second. The speed and rate of exposure are decided by the way your optical nerve connects your eye to your brain. It is known as persistence of vision.
I was once asked what I had learned working within the cinema industry. Apart from the above the only thing I know is this: ‘If it’s not on the screen it is not in the movie’, a fundamental starting point for film makers everywhere and echoes a lesson learnt at the Black-E.