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Who is Paul Rayton
a mini bio

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Paul Rayton's alter ego Date: 01.10.2007
Paul in Bradford March 2007. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev

A slightly pre- "baby boom generation" guy, Paul Rayton was born in 1942 in New Hampshire, in the far northeastern part of the US. Initially brought up there, by the early 1960s he felt enough interest in film to head west, to attend the University of Southern California -- attending classes along with several other future luminaries that included George Lucas and John Milius. However, Paul's interest remained focused on exhibition, and he followed a career as a motion picture projectionist after graduation. During the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, he was in various theatres, mostly in Los Angeles, but a few times in New York, entertaining the moviegoing audiences.

His background and expertise (and enthusiasm) were sought out by "Filmex", the first real Los Angeles Film Festival, in the '70s, and at the end of 1999, he re-joined some of the original Filmex group, which by that time was known as "The American Cinematheque" and which had preserved and re-opened the historic (1922) Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

His first "wide screen" experiences were not in his home town -- both the town and the local cinema were rather small -- but in a neighboring town, when "The Robe" was brought to the area, complete with stereophonic sound. What a discovery! A few years later, "West Side Story" also made an indelible impression on him. And, he would be one of the select few to catch the original 70mm presentation of "Scent of Mystery" in actual Smell-O-Vision, yet, thanks to a conveniently-timed high school group field trip to the then far-away and exotic New York City.
More in 70mm reading:

Paul Rayton In Conversation

Paul Rayton Remembers "Scent of Mystery" in 3 minutes and 49 seconds

Life With THX In Hollywood Part 1

Life With THX In Hollywood Part 2

70mm Presentations - Letters from Directors

Original 6-track Mix Recovered and Restored for West Side Story

Berlinale 2009 - 70mm Retrospective

"The Master" in 70mm, Los Angeles

WSW Academy

Staff & Volunteers

Internet link:
Paul and 70mm around 1973

Other 70mm inspirations occurred, and by the 1980s, Paul was a dedicated 70mm aficionado. As 70mm usage began to decline, in the 1990s, Paul celebrated it as he worked the noted AVCO cinema in L.A. (home of the first THX in L.A.), and looks fondly back on the 6 month run there of "Out Of Africa", probably the last time such an epic film had such a long run in such a grand (1100 seats) venue, at least in American exhibition. The next major 70mm epic would be 1992s "Titanic", unfortunately apparently destined to be the last such "grand" 70mm event ever ("Titanic" was at the Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, for a long run, but after about 3 or 4 months, it was moved out of the big theatre to one of the smaller ones).

During those active years, Paul became acquainted with similarly-interested people from around the world, including Thomas Hauerslev and Johan Wolthuis. Johan and Thomas had gathered with some others interested in "the splendor of 70mm" from the European side, and were beginning to publish some early newsletters to try to spread the glory of 70mm. Paul soon found he could contribute tidbits of information and news from his vantage point in Hollywood, and then gradually also volunteered to help with proofreading some of the publications knowing that English was not always the first language of some of the readers, and so it would be helpful to have things composed and stated clearly, with as few "typos" as possible, both for clarity of information, but also because, to be influential, it needed to be as professional as possible.
Paul examining 35mm film June 2003. Photo credit: Mutsuko Iwasa.

And so, during these last several years, Paul has been in the background, watching (and showing) movies, and helping the 70mm news, in whatever format -- printed, or electronic -- to keep coming your wayl He has attended Bradford's "WSW" annually since 1999 and was made a member of the "WSW Academy" in 2005.

As of mid-2007, he was still working in Los Angeles, happy to be in his "time machine" theatre, where some days he may run 70mm film, and other days may find him working with nitrate 35mm from the 1930s or 1940s.
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Updated 21-01-24