How To Host A PTA Outdoor Movie Night

Posted by Paul Murray on Wednesday Oct 8, 2014 Under Tips

How To Host A Pta Outdoor Movie Night

Movies are a language that every generation speaks. From granddad to junior, the silver screen makes a wonderful focal point of a fundraising event. Hosting a movie outdoors, at nighttime, on a huge screen steps things up a notch: it transforms a movie into an event! With an outdoor movie night, everyone is entertained, food and refreshments go hand-in-hand with a film, and having it outdoors adds an element of fun that kids and adults enjoy.

If your PTA is planning to host one of these fun outdoor movie nights, there are a few tricks of the trade to consider to make certain that things run smoothly:

There are a host of places you can host your outdoor movie night. Fields, courtyards, and parking lots are all big, empty spaces that you can reserve for your event, making them prime realty. As with anything else in life, there are benefits to each, and there are also things to consider.

First, let’s consider the essentials: Electricity and bathroom access are the top two things that you need to take into account for an outdoor movie night. You need electricity to show the movie, and you need electricity if you plan to have a concession stand. Your audience is definitely going to need a bathroom; if you don’t have access to an indoor bathroom, you can always rent a porta potty for your audience. If that’s not an option, take that as a sign that you need to select a different location.

Second, let’s consider the impact location can have on people: location sets the mood. A majority of the allure of going to an outdoor movie is being outdoors. The surroundings help make or break a movie-going experience. If you’re setting up in a courtyard or parking lot, either provide chairs or cushions for your audience to sit on. Fields make for a softer seating arrangement—but not if it’s a minefield of rocks. Watch out for insect nests and animal burrows when selecting your location.

Comfortableness is what helps an outdoor movie night shine in the memories of those who attend. Having bathroom access, somewhere comfortable to sit, and an overall pleasant experience is what will encourage them to come back next year when the PTA hosts another annual film under the stars.

You can’t show a movie without a screen, a projector, and a sound system. Not all of these things are made equal; be sure that your equipment is up to the job. With your screen, check wind ratings, know how close it can be to water, and consider the start time of your showing. If you need to start your film before the sun sets to accommodate young children, it takes a higher end screen system to be able to do a quality show before it’s completely dark out. There are even inflatable screens without noisey blowers, which Southern Outdoor Cinema specializes in.

Beyond the mechanical equipment, you need to select a movie to show at your outdoor PTA shindig. This category of “equipment” is the determining factor in how well your event goes and whether or not your audience walks away wanting to come back next year. It is important that you pick something that will keep adults and kids alike interested. Thankfully, there is an entire branch of the film industry dedicated to creating family films. Use ratings and recommendations from your equipment provider as a guide when selecting the movie for the night.

If concessions are part of your plan for the event, you’ll also need to gather equipment for a concession stand, whether it be in a tent or shed or vehicle. Popcorn is a movie classic, but you can also serve other fun things at your outdoor movie night. For the ambitious, you might gear your concessions towards the film you’re showing! Or, you might match your food to the season: for fall film showings, consider hot chocolate, apple cider, apples with caramel, and kettle corn.

Whether you need to do fundraising to have your movie event, or you’re having a movie event as a fundraiser, a great way to generate some profit is to run sponsors’ ads on the big screen before and after show time. Not only does it work at selling their product and promoting their business for them, but it also gives the audience something to watch before the movie begins.

If you have a concession stand at your event, you could use it as another advertising opportunity for a sponsor. If one of your sponsors is already in the food business, you could transform your concession stand into an outpost for their cuisine for the evening, giving them publicity and stepping up your concessions for the night.

You can also think about putting your sponsors’ logos on invitations for the event, on napkins and cups from the concession stand, and on tickets for the event itself, if you choose to have tickets. If you’re feeling extra creative, sponsors could have their logos emblazoned on seat cushions to hand out so that the audience is extra comfortable for the feature film!

You know that part of the dvd you can’t fast forward through at the start of every movie? That FBI warning is letting you know that there are rules you need to follow when you are showing a movie in public. In other words, a public performance license needs to be purchased from the film studio or you will face a large fine: up to $250,000 or up to five years in jail. While there is specific criteria that you can meet to avoid these fines, one of the easiest ways to handle this detail for your outdoor movie event is to hire a professional outdoor movie event equipment provider. Southern Outdoor Cinema takes care of the legal aspect of the movie license so that you don’t have to.

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Southern Outdoor Cinema


Southern Outdoor Cinema, LLC, is the LARGEST producer of high quality outdoor movie events in the United States for movie studios, film festivals, marketing agencies, Fortune 500 Companies, schools and cities. Southern Outdoor Cinema produces extraordinary outdoor movie experiences with big screens and bright and colorful images so that your audience members feel like they are at a real Hollywood film premiere. Contact Southern Outdoor Cinema to receive a free consultation for your next special event.

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Quick Tips For Obtaining Outdoor Movie Event Sponsors

Posted by Paul Murray on Wednesday Apr 3, 2013 Under Tips

outdoor school movie event The phrase “movies under the stars” conjures up images of dozens of families bringing out their blankets and snacks to a community park to watch a free flick, generally put on by the city or another large organization.

But who says you can’t put this on just for your students and their families?

Sure, parks and recreation departments enjoy our full turnkey event production and theatrical-grade screens. But school administrators can take advantage of our audio/visual services as well and host their own movie night.

Wait. Are those dollar signs floating above your head? Though it may sound like something you’ll have to add a line item for in next year’s school budget, it can be done with little or no budget set aside.  So what’s the secret to hosting an affordable, family-friendly movie event for your students? Event sponsors!

If you’ve been reading our blog, you already know one great way to help ease the costs of an outdoor (or indoor!) movie is to obtain sponsorships or make the event a fundraiser. It’s time to think outside of the popcorn box! (Sorry, had to say it.)

Check out local dance studios, pediatricians, restaurants, particularly businesses near your school. We recommend finding sponsors who market to families with young children. When approaching sponsors, let them know how Southern Outdoor Cinema is a truly unique way to advertise their business:

  • We have a professional graphic artist on staff who will create artwork for an advertisement to the sponsor’s specifications. That means less work for you and for the potential sponsor.
  • These ads will be up and projecting before the movie begins. The difference between us and other equipment providers is we can have this set up ahead of time, while there is still ambient light. So your sponsor can have their message displayed 20 minutes ahead of time in order to have a sundown start time. (This also means families aren’t up late watching the flick and can get your students to bed on time!)

school outdoor movie night One of our favorite clients had some great tips about using sponsors for their movie events. She said though the slow economy has been an issue with maintaining sponsors, they have used several methods over the years to obtain funds.

“We have offered vendor spots for a flat fee as well as a percentage of sales donation. We also include their logo on the screen prior to the movie, as well as including their logo in our school paper and flyers.”

If you need assistance, another part of our unique experience is we can provide marketing materials to present to sponsors and to show off to families. We are with you every step of the event planning process. This isn’t something you have to do alone.

Part of the joy we experience in bringing Hollywood to you is helping you create movie magic without any stress. Hopefully these tips will help you with your next sponsored event.

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Southern Outdoor Cinema

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