8 in the gate

My co-walkers know when they are coming and going and have the food drops.   I've done all my homework (and alot of homework is required for 2 months away, the human world won't let go so easily), finally joined the BMC after all these years and got some decent insurance, done a hundred other tiny jobs, and packed my bag.  I've packed and repacked.  Its still heavy, full of food and camera gear...but alot lighter than even a year ago, let alone 2.  I catch the train tomorrow and will be in Hendaye by the evening.  I'm looking forward to camping a few metres from the beach.  I'll dip my toes in the Atlantic early on the 29th, then turn around and start.  Nearly 600 miles seems like a horribly long way right now.


When I worked as a cinema projectionist, 8 in the gate meant 'ready'.  The leader on analogue 35mm film is numbered and counts you in.  Having 8 in the gate means the picture will be in frame as it hits the screen, and you are prepared for the changeover.  A changeover is the running of single reels from machine A to machine B - whole films were shown like this (and in a small number of cinemas still are), sometimes 10-20 bounces depending on the stock and length of film.  You know those dots in the corner of the screen you used to see on old prints, about every 20 minutes (or 10 minutes for Russian/Asian film stock)?  The first dot means 'motor' - you start your machine and allow it to run up to speed, 24 still frames a second, the second means 'over' - you hit the switch and your machine is live on screen.  A good projectionist understands their machines and makes allowances for them, timing is in milliseconds.  You can run 'loose' or 'tight' but don't miss, or the black box illusion will be snuffed out in an instant.  A good projectionist makes an art of timing - you have to know how to wait and when to go, when to push and when to pull.  You learn to pay attention to details and prepare thoroughly.  You also learn not to blink.  On a good show, it all comes together, it is intuitive and your timing becomes music.

You check and re check.  You think you are ready but you never know.  Once I worked an amazing film with the cinematographer Vadim Yusov in the screen, at that point it was the only copy in the world, and it was his film.  One of the best ever made in my opinion, and shown in front of the best cinematographer that ever squinted into the sun, that print was unique.  I checked my set ups a dozen times, more maybe.  Ready to go.  Motor.....Over.  Within a few seconds of the titles starting, a tiny piece of metal the size of a finger nail holding a guide roller under pressure snapped, and the whole first reel was trashed.  Metal fatigue. Completely unpredictable.
Am I ready?  8 is in the gate, and I leave tomorrow.  I'm hoping for music.

There will be occasional outbursts on twitter and facebook, and blog posts with terrible phone-cam pictures.  The Social Hiking tab 'Ou est le Dave', top right on this page, may be updated spasmodically too, all when telephone reception allows.  See you on the other side.  

Did I mention this walk is for charity?  I know, its getting boring isn't it.  Make me shut up and push the button.  Do it now: http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/davidlintern