Tips and ideas for a Successful Outdoor Movie Night.


Today we will discuss the steps it takes to put on a great outdoor movie night.  Whether it will be hosted in your backyard for a few friends and family, or a city-wide event for thousands of attendees, there are a few tips and tricks that we would like to present that will help your evening be a huge success.



The perfect location.


Choosing an appropriate venue is an important first step to planning your outdoor movie night. An area with low ambient light is ideal so the image will be as bright as possible on the screen.  If you are worried about the area being too dark to move attendees out after the film, a good idea is to have some mobile lighting on hand such as the type used for construction projects.  Or, a more professional look would be to use LED uplighting like these that are bright enough to illuminate a path for movie-goers.  Another aspect to picking a venue is to make sure that it is somewhere that has a large enough parking area for vehicles to safely exit.  


It is always a good idea to discuss a potential movie night with neighbors that are within close distance of the event.  It is a courteous gesture and will not only go a long way if you choose to host another event, but will increase attendance if they decide to join you.  


If possible it is always good to have a backup indoor location avalible if there is bad weather in the forecast.  We like to use the 75/3 and 50/2 rule to decide if we will go with our “rain out” plan.  This basically means that if the forecast 3 days out calls for a 75% chance of inclement weather or 2 days out calls for a 50% probability, we will proceed with our rain out plans.  This makes the decision process much easier and does not lead to blame.  Also, make sure your attendees are aware prior to the event of the backup “rain out” plan, this will keep your attendance numbers up if you choose to proceed with the screening.


Power is another item you need to keep in mind when deciding on the location.  You will want it within 100′ of where you plan to have the equipment setup or have a silent generator on hand with enough gasoline for 4-6 hours.  You also want to check with your town if you need any permitting or permission if you are planning to use public land.  




When to start the movie.  


The best time to start a movie is right around sunset.  It is always helpful if the movie you choose doesn’t have dark scenes to start with as it may be difficult to see with it being somewhat light out still.  A helpful tool for planning when to start the movie can be found here.  Depending on your audience age and the permitting involved, you may want to plan on showing a shorter movie during the longer days of summer and save the blockbuster long form films for the early fall.






Everyone wants to have a great time at your event and safety goes hand-in-hand with that.  Invite people to arrive around dusk or when it is still light out so they can familiarize themselves with the area.  It is also good to set the movie equipment up far from where people will be parked. As I mentioned earlier you can use uplighting as a way to add some illumination without distracting from the film.  This is a great option when there are no street lights in the area.  It’s also a good practice to rope off the area where the projector is located as well as any area there may be cabling or tie off ropes for the screen.  We are big fans of glow in the dark tie line for our screens available for purchase through amazon.    




Getting the word out and fundraising


Be sure to advertise early so people can plan to come.  A month to a few weeks out is generally a good time frame to begin RSVP requests.   Some ways to effectively get the ball rolling is through facebook advertising, sending email invitations, and old fashioned printed flyers.  Some great places to post flyers are at post offices, libraries, coffee shops, and schools, if permitted.


In your invitation/description of the event be sure to include a “what to bring” section.  Some examples are a blanket or chairs, appropriate attire, snacks (if you are not providing/selling any) and bug spray!  Here is a link to a fantastic home recipe for bug spray to help avoid those nasty chemicals.


You can also use the event as a fundraiser for a class trip, local charity, support for a friend or neighbor, etc.  Some ways to help raise funds are to charge a ticket price, or sell popcorn and other snacks.   One of our favorites is to offer sponsorship opportunities to local businesses and present their company advertisement both before and after the movie.




When showing a movie it is very important to get licensing so there are no infringements upon copyright.  Please visit the following websites for more information on when a license is required and how to purchase one for the screening. 


Swank, Criterion Pictures USA, and the MPLC.


Picking a movie to show


So many movies to choose from!  Picking a movie to show on the big screen can be a difficult decision.  One of the ideas we have utilized in the past was crowdsourcing the film to be screened.  A facebook survey was created to choose from a list of films and the winning film was shown.  Another fun idea is dressing up as a character from the film and offering a prize for the best costume.  Also, you do not have to limit the event to just a movie.  If there is a sporting event or concert being broadcast this always makes for a fun evening with friends or family.  

Feel free to reach out to us with your ideas for movie nights and we will gladly update this blog with your feedback.  Thanks for reading and call us today to book your event! 



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107 Quincy Rd.

Rumney, NH 03266

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