A cinema engineer’s story

Jim Slater talked with Bev Gilston-Hope, Odeon’s lead engineer in the North, about her role as one of cinema’s most respected engineers.

have met Odeon’s lead engineer, Bev Gilston-Hope, many times at various of the chain’s cinemas around the country, and eventually found a few minutes to talk with her about her career while looking around the amazing new Odeon in Oldham. From her general conversation it doesn’t take long to discover that she is one of those people who just loves film and loves the cinema. ‘Did you see?’ and ‘Do you remember in that film when…?’ constantly cropped up in conversation, so it can only be good that she has found herself a job she loves in an industry she loves!

A career in cinema

Bev told me that she wasn’t one of those people who grew up knowing that they wanted to work in a projection room, but somehow things just worked out that way.

Having left Sharples High School in Bolton in 1982 she took a job as a cashier in the local Cannon cinema, which in previous incarnations had been The Lido, Star, Studio and eventually an ABC. There is now a block of flats on the site…

Whilst working there she met one of the chain’s engineers, got talking with him about what the job involved, and decided there and then that she would like to follow that path. She began as a projectionist for Cannon, working at the eight-screen Cannon in Salford Quays, which was taken over by the MGM Group in 1990, later a Virgin cinema and then a UCI. Bev became a Chief Projectionist, and over a 12-year period worked in various chief projectionist roles at places as varied as Granada TV Studios, the Showcase Liverpool on the East Lancashire Road, and MGM Belfast.

a move further northwards

She moved to Scotland in 1997 and joined Odeon, working at Renfield Street, The Quay and then the dual-sited Ayr and Kilmarnock. She became a BKSTS Member twenty years ago back in 1997. Totally experienced in all things 35mm, Bev was one of those happy to move forward, and embraced Odeon’s training in digital projection technology, and in 2009 became an Odeon ‘Sound and Projection Engineer’ installing and maintaining all types of cinema equipment all over the place – she claims to have installed more than 100 digital projectors, although nominally based at Odeon Trafford Park.

Onwards and upwards

In May of this year, she was promoted to become lead engineer for the North, supervising and working with Odeon’s team of sound and projection engineers covering the North of the UK, including Scotland. This task involves a lot of travel the aim being to ensure that all Odeon’s sound and projection equipment is kept working at its best. As well as the regular (and emergency) repair, maintenance and calibration of equipment, she gets fully involved in numerous new projects, the Oldham new build being just one of many.

A true all-rounder

With such a focus on cinema and on film in her life, I might have imagined that this left Bev with little time for anything else, but nothing could be further from the truth. Married to Alison, somehow she fits in
an extremely active social life, enjoying walking activities and plenty of holidays. She loves her dogs and animals in general, and has even done voluntary work at a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia!   

Great to meet such a friendly and interesting engineer!