Outdoor movie nights are a classic Aussie childhood memory– warm evenings, popcorn, beanbags and great movie under the stars with family and friends. They also require a fair bit of planning but can make a great profit.
Why an Outdoor Movie Night?
An outdoor movie night is a relatively an easy fundraiser to organize, and it can be easily used in concurrence with other fundraising ideas such as raffles and auctions.
Outdoor Movies Guide for Communities
1. Planning a date and time
Choosing a date: Make sure to look at the expected weather, sunset times and any major events taking place on your desired date.
Choosing a start time: the recommended time is start 15-30 minutes after sunset
It is important to have a wet-weather plan – will you cancel, postpone or hold it in an indoor/covered location?
2. Choosing a location
Choosing a location: venues with a large, flat and grassy space are ideal for a cinema under the stars (like a local park). Semi- or fully enclosed undercover areas are best for events in the winter.
Important questions to ask:
- Is there access to power? How far away is it? Will you need long extension cables or a generator?
- Is there enough parking available for the expected number of guests
- Will the venue have enough lighting around for guests to exit the venue safely?
- Is there access to toilets?
- Will you need access to water for food stalls?
- Are there any noise concerns for nearby residential areas?
- Can the venue fit adequate rubbish/recycling bins?
Depending on how you plan on selling tickets, you may also need to plan how you could rope off the seating area, to only allow access to people with tickets
3. Organising a movie and screen
Unless someone within your community has experience with sound and movie operating, it is advisable to hire a professional company to organise the screen, projector, sound systems and an operator. Most will also source the movie and any licenses on your behalf. It is important that you understand the PPL (Public Performance licence) requirements and that you have the proper permission to screen a movie.
The size of the screen should match your expected audience – a small screen (4m x 2.5m) is suitable for groups up to 200, but if you are hoping to attract up to 1000 guests, then you will need a much larger (and costlier) screen of 8m x 5m.
4. Costs and Ticketing
When calculating ticket prices, ensure all costs are met such as the cinema hire, movie license, venue fees, marketing costs and any other hire fees (popcorn machine, bouncy castle etc.).
You can consider circulating an “Expression of interest” email via email or social media to judge the level of interest within your community before committing to the event.
Tickets that not only include the cost of the movie but also a voucher for a drink or meal or raffle ticket are always seen as a good value by customers. It can also make the night itself run more smoothly by easing the load of money handling on the night and saving money on over-ordering. When creating tickets, it is also important to consider which of the following categories you will offer:
- Members if you are a club
- Early Bird Discount
It may be useful to consider using technology to reduce the workload on your volunteers/staff. For example, you may like to sell tickets on online platforms like TryBooking. This lets you sell tickets, receive payments and even donations. The event can also be easily shared via social media.
5. Additional Event Activities
Important questions to consider:
- Will you be running pre-show entertainment– raffles, karaoke, music/dance performance?
- Have you considered selling advertisingspace on-screen or on the tickets?
- Will you have stalls selling food or drink or will it be BYO?
- Will there be any decorations? (like fairy lights)
- Will you be providing seating or hiring our seating? (like bean bags)
- Will you be offering a ‘Gold Class’ or VIP Area?
Other notes to consider
Make sure guests are aware whether seating will be provided on the night – Should they bring blankets or cushions? Are chairs permitted? What provisions will be made for people who cannot sit on the ground?
Consult your local council about turning off any sprinklers/reticulation during your event
Make sure the grass is mowed a week prior, to reduce both mess from clippings and allergies.
With any large scale events you will need to have a clear emergency and evacuation plan including clear exit points for guests. Ensure that contact to emergency services is easily accessible.
Marketing the event in as early as possible is a good way to ensure you get maximum attendance – this might be through the club website, newsletter, club noticeboard and social media. Ensure tickets are numbered and decide on the maximum capacity.
It is important to consider whether your venue will allow the sale of alcohol at your event. Events can be alcohol free or limits or restrictions set in advance. Event organisers will also need to consider how they will manage the risks of binge drinking as well as the Responsible Service of Alcohol.