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THE FUNCTION of PERSONNEL 10 Oct 2001 23:11 #2135

  • RoxyVaudeville
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"Buildings and equipment are inert. They are lifeless. Of themselves, they have no more power to create, than a ruined temple on the banks of the Nile. It is the presence of the human element that viabrates an institution with life. A man who puts up a handsome theatre and furnishes it superbly - may be a leading builder or a gifted decorator; but he is no operator. He must know how to handle people through other people.

Therein lies the function of personnel: A group of people multiplying the effectiveness of a dominant and guiding personality. Just as in a healthy body, the brain controls the limbs without itself appearing to the eyes of an observer, so in a sound theatrical enterprise, the vitality of one policy throbs in the smile at the box office, in the alertness of the ushers, in the harmony of the music, and in the smooth efficiency of the projectionist's work.

The duties of management have branched out in the modern theatre, and many hands are required to execute a single policy on a vast scale. The same is true for smaller houses as well. No one dreams of running his theatre single-handed. The successful operator, knowing that he has to sell his house to hold his public, is just as keen on the subject of personnel as on the quality of the show or the attractiveness of the environment.

What, first of all, does a theatre management do? It recieves people, it seats people, it cares for and protects people. It amuses them and entertains them. It runs a plant in a clean and attractive manner. It handles money and reciepts, disbursements, profits, investments. It engages, trains, supervises, discharges, promotes a varying number of workers.

The theatre must be-very definitely just one theatre. The idea in utilizing personnel is to establish the unique character of the house in the specfic task of the individual. He or she will sell a ticket or refreshments, or seat a patron, or run a projector, not only as a recognizable man or woman, but in a recognizable way-the theatre's way, the management's way.

Then the first thing the management must do is obey the ancient injunction: Know thyself. What IS the policy of my theatre? To what audience am I appealing? What do they like? What are the resources of the industry ready to supply the demand? What new resources must I create? If I aim at a metropolitan attendence, I must create a reputation for exquisite, precise service. If I seek a neighborhood attendence, I must establish a warm and friendly reception for them. If my patrons are poorer folk from the humbler walks of life, I must not oppress or repel them with a solicitude they are likely to mistake for condescension.

The engaging of employees should be governed by the policy of the house, since random employment makes for many misfits. Naturally, theatre employees should be selected on appearance as well as ability, and employees in any kind of business must show promise of working sympathetically with superiors. Advancement should be made on the basis of merit alone. Any other method means the defeat of policy by disruption and disgruntlement. Workers are not merely to preserve good appearance, but to behave well. Hence there should be no eating, chewing, or smoking on duty. Loud talking is vulgar and distasteful; certainly there should never be comments of any sort concerning patrons."

The previous paragraphs have been edited from the book "Motion Picture Theatre Management" by Harold B. Franklin, published in 1927 at the height of the movie palace era. Isn't it amazing how much of it is still perfectly accurate for todays theatres. True showmanship doesn't change.

[This message has been edited by RoxyVaudeville (edited October 11, 2001).]
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Re: THE FUNCTION of PERSONNEL 11 Oct 2001 09:17 #2136

  • Mike
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Roxy is THE man. You are truly "the" man! Thanks for this. Corporations would have to do years of retreats at famed golf resports to generate this document only interrupting their hard work to file Chapter 11. I'm printing it out, posting it in our employee lounge ( a space at the top of the stairs near the proj room!) and including it in this weeks pay envelopes.

"If it was good in the past it's still good." Sly Stone..... "60's style"

Mike Hurley
Michael Hurley
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Re: THE FUNCTION of PERSONNEL 11 Oct 2001 12:46 #2137

Eloquently stated. I, too, printed it up for my employees to read and ponder. Thanks.
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Re: THE FUNCTION of PERSONNEL 12 Oct 2001 00:04 #2138

Very well put. I printed it, and posted it in the breakroom and faxed it to our home office.
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