Just this summer my husband and I were thinking of different ways to entertain our friends and have some fun summer evenings together. I suggested showing summer classic films in the backyard. We have been wanting to plan movie nights with our friends for ages but space always seems an issue in our home. There is the problem of wanting to invite so many people but having limited sitting space. So my backyard solution was to use my LCD projector from my teaching days and a large king sized sheet. Problem solved.We can entertain larger numbers and enjoy the novelty of watching classic films that we were too young to ever see on the “big screen.”
A Little Background on Drive Ins
Drive in theatres have been around since the 1930s and some still exist today but are becoming harder and harder to find. The concept originated in New Jersey but quickly picked up over the next twenty years reaching a peak in the 1950s. There have been numerous variations of method from painted walls and screens nailes to trees to more large speaker systems and radio transmitted sound to cars. The evolution of the drive in theatre has always been to improve function, appeal and ease of use but unfortunatly the evolution of home theatre technology would eventually make drive ins obsolete. Drive ins were also limited in their viewing times, as they can only be used at night, they just couldn’t compete with other movie theatres and the ability to watch films in the comfort of your own home. When I was little there were no longer any drive ins on Long Island so these backyard double features are my way of recreating that nostalgia for myself and friends.
How to Put it All Together
To put it all together there are a few things you will need. First you need a place where the sheet can be hung. Depending on the size of the screen you want will determine the space you need. We used a king size white sheet that I grommeted to create permanent holes on top. I also use shower curtain hooks to hang the sheet from our gutter. We have a large space next to our patio where we can hang the sheet/screen and everyone can sit on the lawn to view the movie. Also don’t worry about wrinkles, usually the weight of the sheet pulls them down. You may need a ladder to hang the sheet though.
Next you will need a way of projecting the films. I use my laptop on our wifi connected to my digital LCD projector. They can be a bit pricey but if you can find one on sale or open box like I had, it helps a bit. The movies can either be on DVD,downloaded or streamed with a service like Netflix or through iTunes. Definently plan ahead so that the film is ready to go when show time comes. There is nothing worse than a rowdy audience of friends.
Sound is also key. I suggest using stereo speakers as computer speakers tend to not get loud enough. Oh! And don’t forget to invite your neighbors so there are no worries about noise levels.The sound seems rather contained and not a nuisance at all for us which is great but better to err on the side of caution and invite your neighbors.The more the merrier!
Add to the Fun
When entertaining friends and family, it’s always important to have some type of refreshment to offer. With a movie night you can be a little creative and offer candy that is themed for the film or the time period. For example if you are showing E.T. have Reece’s pieces on hand as a nostalgic candy from way back when for a classic film. You can also get creative with popcorn too. I try to have the popcorn ready to go in wax lined paper bags or plastic popcorn cups from a dollar store. Included below is a link for adorable printable DIY popcorn boxes. You can provide a variation of shake on spices or go with simple salt. I make mine on the stove or over the wood fire on our fire pit outdoors, but microwave popcorn is great too.
Have fun with it and you will have people coming back. The most preparation is choosing which films to show as there are are so many great movies for the big screen.
Here are some great links for popcorn ideas, classic films, and those super cute DIY popcorn boxes. Enjoy!