When was the last time you went to a drive-in?
For me it must have been at least 3 years ago. There’s a drive-in over in Fairlee, VT, and during the summer season they show double features for $8 per person. It’s a lot of fun to pile in a car and head over there, hoping for clear skies.
The Fairlee Drive-in also has a motel, and the rooms are situated such that you can open the curtains on one of the walls and watch the movie. It’s kind of a fun gimmick.
Last night I kicked off my career as a projectionist with the spectacular film Duel of the Tough, originally titled Shen tui mi zong shou. We’d had a BBQ over at my place and Cyrus stayed around to poke at the fire when I had the epiphany that I had finally acquired all of the pieces necessary to project movies outside.
The screen was a white shower curtain purchased from Wal-mart for about $3, suspended from a 6′ piece of PVC pipe left over from Gene-o and my attempts to make replacement tent poles for a dome tent. Cyrus and I lashed two pieces of 1×2 vertically to railing posts on the new front deck, and then strung the pipe on a piece of cord between them.
I ran a long extension cord out of the house (unfortunately there aren’t any external power outlets on the deck yet) to a power strip. We put up a folding table with the projector on the front, a pair of so-so computer speakers in the middle, and a laptop at the back. Unfortunately, the first laptop I grabbed was an old ThinkPad that didn’t have a wireless card and didn’t have VLC or any other way to playback DVDs. So I had to run upstairs and go pull out my old silver Averatec, which did the job admirably well. The Averatec has a history of running hot enough to burn exposed flesh, however the cool fall air kept it running at only a light sauté temperature.
The movie was absolutely…well, it was something to behold, featuring ridiculous special effects, horrible cropping of the film leaving people off the edge of the screen, a plot that made vague sense, and bizarre sets and costumes. What can I say — it was a great kung-fu movie!
I’ll want to make some improvements for the next time I run outdoor movies. I have two shower curtains (each roughly square), so if I show a widescreen movie, it should fit about perfectly if I put both side by side. I also want to get a different, cooler-running laptop for DVD playback. I think that the speakers are loud enough, but I could consider investing in a bit better setup if showing movies becomes a regular activity.
I’ve had some suggestions for using the surroundings as a part of the movie experience — like setting up a couple of small fires in pits, moving the screen against the trees, and then showing something like Willow or one of the Lord of the Rings movies. I think that could really work well. It’s getting a bit late in the season at this point, so if I want to run any movie showings this year I’ll need to set them up as soon as possible.