How to host an outdoor movie night at school

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We’ve been searching around for fun ways you can fundraise this year. Because we love the outdoor movie nights that seem to be popping up all over the country at stately homes and other special venues, we’ve put together some tips that will help you plan your own version of a school outdoor movie night this summer term.

Movie night logisitics

Who: The best thing about movie nights is that they are good for the whole family including older and younger siblings.

Where:  Make the most of your schools assets and hold your school outdoor movie night on your school field. Invite people to bring their own rugs, pop-up chairs and blankets to keep snug. Decorate with festoon lights to make it feel that bit more special.

What: Choose a film that will both adults and children will enjoy – why not let the children vote from a selection. Keep an eye on age ratings. You can find out about film licenses at https://www.gov.uk/showing-films-in-public. If you can link the film to the curriculum, you may not even need a licence. Or you can purchase a one-off licence for around £80.

Don't forget the food!

Offer food and drinks to raise further money. Or, opt for a mobile caterer who will give you a share of the takings and help take away some of the stress of the event. Remember to get an alcohol license if you are planning to sell drinks.

When: The best time time to start an outdoor movie is 15-30 minutes after sunset.

How: Ticket your PTA outdoor movie night on Classlist and include free popcorn in the price – packages often seem like better value. Set up a community group for the organising committee and send announcements to parents as a reminder nearer the time.

Movie night checklist

  • Have a wet weather contingency plan – will you cancel, postpone or hold it in the hall?
  • Access to toilets  – will there be security or safety issues if the school building is open?
  • Where will the power come from? Will extension leads be enough or do you need a generator?
  • Make sure you have plenty of bin bags for people to use
  • Will you need to provide lighting for the walk home?
  • It is wise to get a professional company to organise the screen, projector and sound systems – get a size that suits the size of your audience. The company will often cover the cost of the license too.
  • Are you going to do any other fundraising activities on the night – such as selling glow sticks?
  • Check with the caretaker when the grass will be mowed  – you want it to be recently cut but not on the day of the event otherwise the cuttings will be wet
  • Can you get sponsorship for the program and an image on the screen before the movie starts?
  • Start advertising the event early – we recommend a six-week lead in time as a minimum and tell people what they need to bring
  • Don’t forget your risk assessment
  • Consider how you will make it accessible for everyone. Do you need to provide some seating on level ground?
  • Set up a clear up party for the next morning to remove any rubbish left on the field – call for volunteers on Classlist. Bribe them with a bacon butty!

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