Drive in Movie Night Guide

1. Planning a date and time

Choosing a date: Make sure to look at the expected weather, sunset times and other events taking place at the school (e.g. sports carnival) 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: ideally a venue should be a very large and flat area, in order for a number of cars to drive on and fit.

Important questions to consider:

  • Is there access to power? How far away is it? Will you need long extension cables or a generator?
  • Is there an adequate amount of space to fit a good number of vehicles?
  • Is the venue easily accessible for vehicles?
  • 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 create an entrance for cars and only allow cars with tickets

3. Organising a movie and screen

Unless someone within your school 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. You should also discuss the logistics to operate a drive-in movie night. 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:

  • Adult
  • Family
  • Concession
  • Student
  • 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:

  • Have you considered selling advertising space 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)

Other notes to consider

Make sure guests are aware whether there is space for outside seating 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?

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 paid advertising in the paper, posters on local community boards and around the school, letter drop boxes or asking local businesses to sell tickets on your behalf. Ensure tickets are numbered and decide on the maximum capacity.