A guide to holding outdoor film screenings

Provided the conditions are right and everything is properly organised, an outdoor film screening can be an atmospheric and exciting event.

You might want to hold a film festival, screen videos as part of marketing events and product demonstrations, or maybe you would like to show romantic videos as part of a grand outdoor wedding. Whatever the nature of your event, you’ll need to know exactly how to set up and screen your films.

Setting up

The way you organise space in your venue, whether it’s an event tent, marquee or perhaps just a field, is crucial to the success of your film screening.

You need to first choose the right spot for your screen, ensuring that sunlight or artificial light isn’t causing any glare on the screen. You should also look out for any obstacles which may cause shadows to fall over your screen. You might have to try a few spots until you get it exactly right.

A popular way to screen films is to project them straight onto the walls of the venue, which works brilliantly well in event tents such as the SaddleSpan where there are no poles, cables, seams or other obstructions blocking the screen. You need a completely smooth, flat, pale-coloured surface, and somewhere safe to put the projector of course.

The next thing to arrange is seating. Your audience needs to be a reasonable distance away from the screen – you don’t want the front row of people craning their necks to see. You either need a very large screen, seating that is on a slope or different levels or tiers of seating so that everyone can see clearly. Play around with different configurations, sitting in each seat yourself to see how it works and how clear the view is.

Lastly, you’ll need to organise power, lighting and sound – speak to your technical engineer or bring in a specialist team if you need to. Remember to keep your wires and cables as tidy and concealed as possible, or they could become tripping hazards.

Running your screening

The key to a great outdoor screening is atmosphere, which is surprisingly easy to create. You already have the perfect setting of an event tent, marquee or simply nature itself. The next step is to make use of your lighting, having it on full as people take their seats and dramatically dipping the lights when the moment to press ‘play’ comes. You should always have some form of low-level safety lighting in place, however.

You should always be prepared for technical problems, no matter how well you think you’ve set up. Have spare cables, fuses and even films on hand, along with a technical team or engineer. If you prepare for the worst, you’ll be ready to jump in and save the screening. You probably won’t need any of your back-up plans, but you’ll enjoy the screening much more knowing that they’re in place!


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