Movie nights

Resource | décembre 13, 2017

There’s nothing like watching a movie under the stars. Grab a blanket or a camping chair, and we’ll give you a preview of what you can do to make these events the star of the neighbourhood.

Hosting a movie in the park is a great opportunity for park groups to gather together neighbours for a fun, shared experience. Movies in the park are a highlight of summers in the city and are growing in popularity. People of all ages get to see a great film, outdoors on a big screen with a large audience free of charge. Depending on your movie choice, you can theme the evening or summer series and have great pre-shows that get the audience warmed up before the main event.

  1. Round up the usual suspects

    Gather your community park group together to help navigate the logistics of the screening and pre-show. Figure out what time the sun sets and plan the rest of the timing based on when the movie will roll.  Be sure to connect with your city Councillor early on so they're aware of your plans so they can support you and help spread the word about the event. You can also reach out to the community and see if there are any additional volunteers who want to pitch in to make the event a success.
  2. License to thrill

    No matter what movie you decide to screen on your movie night, you will need to secure permits and licenses. Depending on your city bylaws, you may be able to get some of the permit fees waived. First, you’ll need to be in touch with an outdoor screening company in your city. You'll also need to secure a license to screen the movie. Be sure to work with the city to get a special event permit and insurance for your park event.
  3. Show me the money

    Attending a movie night is free for audience members, but there are some costs involved in screening a movie in the park. You'll likely need to pay for permits, insurance, the outdoor screen and film license, as well as printing and designing materials to promote your event. One way to raise funds for your event is by connecting to local sponsors. Look for local businesses that have some connection to the film you are showing (eg. a local toy store if you are showing Toy Story). Also, consider community-based businesses like real estate agents, hardware stores, and bank branches. Because these events are quite popular, sponsors may be likely to help you offset the costs. Take advantage of the pre-show to thank your sponsors or give them a chance to welcome the crowd. The pre-show is also a great opportunity to introduce your community park group to the neighbourhood and gather interest for future events.
  4. If you book them, they will come

    To be a success, you need people to know that there's a movie night happening in the park. Make great posters and post them at local hot spots in your community like the community centre, library, apartment buildings and coffee shops. Try to get the information in the City Councillor’s newsletter and in the community newspaper, draw in sidewalk chalk near the playground, and work with volunteers to put flyers in mailboxes in proximity to the park. See if you can connect to the local school's parent council or principle to distribute flyers to school-aged kids.
  5. Logistics, Supplies, and placement, oh my!

    It's time to plan the logistics of your movie night. Put signage in the park so people can easily find where the screening is taking place. Make sure you place your screen and sound system in an easily accessible, relatively flat, glare-free spot near a public restroom. There are some screen rental companies that can set up and figure out the sound system so you don’t have to. You may also want to ensure you have plenty of garbage receptacles to encourage guests to throw out their own trash. Create a schedule for the flow of the evening, keeping in mind the sunset time in your city. Make sure you have a table to share information about your park group and provide opportunities for people to sign up to get your e-newsletter and keep in touch to learn what's happening in the park.

Tips & Bonus Ideas

  • Theme the night

    Let the movie set the theme for the night. A Star Wars or Harry Potter screening can include inviting people to show up in costume with prizes for the best outfit.
  • Kids zone

    Create a kids zone up front to make sure little ones are able to see while sitting on the grass
  • Start the fun early

    Invite people to head to the park early for games or crafts. Preshows are a great opportunity to get people interacting together before the movie starts rolling.