Seven things you learn running an outdoor cinema
Outdoor cinema

Summer and the cinema go hand-in-hand. And now film fans can have the best of both worlds.

Over the past few years, outdoor cinema has grown more popular than ever, allowing audiences to watch some of their favourite films on the big-screen while taking advantage of the few months (or perhaps weeks) of good weather we have each year.

We caught up with Ian Fernando, the founder of Cardiff’s Lost Lands Rooftop Cinema, to discuss the realities of combining open-air viewing with Disney, Prince and the dastardly elements.

Here’s what it’s like to run one…

1. You can find a venue in the least likely of places


“I was basically looking for an event to run in Cardiff,” explains Ian, “and I thought of an outdoor cinema because I’d seen similar ones in places all over the world.

“I began looking for a venue by going to all the high-rise places I could find in the city, and it was actually on the car park rooftop of a Marriott hotel that I saw Jacob’s Market.

“I went to take a look and saw that it was basically being used for storage for art exhibitions, so I approached them and put the idea to them. They loved it and we took it from there.”

2. Disney might ruin your launch

star wars

“We actually wanted to launch with Star Wars on May 4th.

“We provisionally got the go-ahead to do it, but in between us doing that Disney actually bought the rights to it and basically put a big blanket over anybody showing anything Star Wars related until the new film came out. That was disappointing…”

3. It’s all about the experience

rooftop 4

“I’d say 80% of the people who come along will have already seen the film, so it becomes a more immersive experience.

“We’ve got street food, cocktails, live music and some great views over the city. You’re not just going to the cinema, you’re going to an event. Rather than just standing on a rooftop and showing a film, we always try and think what else can we do to make this experience more enjoyable.

“Obviously you’re on a rooftop, but we try to theme it as much as we can. We’re kicking things off with a Leo-weekender, so with The Beach there’s going to be an atmosphere of a full moon party in Thailand, and then The Departed will be much more urbanised, which shouldn’t be too difficult to create considering we’re in the heart of the city.”

4. Some films play better than others

HUMAN TRAFFIC, John Simm, 2000

“The classics are the films which play best to an outdoor cinema crowd. I’m an 80’s child, so I’ll have a sit down and think about the films that I liked during that period and how they’ve aged. There’s a few cult classics like Twin Town and Human Traffic which play particularly well in this area as well.

“A large part of our audience is female, so whenever we do something like Dirty Dancing or The Rocky Horror Picture Show we know that there’s a strong female following who will really enjoy those films, no matter how many times they’ve seen it.”

5. You can have the time of your life, even when it’s raining

“The rain has never been an issue. We’re always on hand with free ponchos and some of our best nights have actually been when it has been chucking it down all day.

“With Dirty Dancing it rained horizontally non-stop the whole night, but people were still dancing and singing along to the tunes. We didn’t lose one person.

“The biggest problem we actually have is the wind. Whenever you have a large screen on a rooftop with heavy winds, that’s where we have to make a judgement as to whether or not we can carry on with the event because we have to think of people’s safety first.

“When we were on the waterfront, it must have been the windiest spot in Cardiff. Everywhere else was relatively wind-free, but the waterfront would have been eighteen, nineteen mph gusts. That wasn’t good for the nerves.”

6. It’s a great way to honour fallen icons…

“On the same weekend as Glastonbury, we’ll be playing Prince’s Purple Rain. We wanted to have a musical theme and look back at some of the musicians we’ve lost this year. Not only have we lost Prince, we’ve lost David Bowie too, so we’re doing Purple Rain on the one night and Labyrinth on the second.

“With Prince, it’s going to be a big ‘purple-party’ on the roof. At all our events we have a DJ, so we’ll have somebody there playing tunes from 1999 with a few Prince remixes in there. It’s the same with Bowie event. It’s going to be themed toward Labyrinth and Bowie’s Starman. You’ll get the chance to watch the film under the stars for the Starman himself.”

7. The summer is just the beginning…


“There’s better technology and resources to do this kind of event these days. The projection is a lot stronger and we actually have an inflatable screen which means we can pretty much pop up wherever we want. It’s things like this which weren’t really accessible a few years ago and gives us more freedom.

“We’re actually going to be extending into the winter. We’ll be out all summer and then indoors all winter, which is when we’re going to be playing a lot of horror films.

“We’ve already done a haunted basement previously where you’d enter in groups and wander around these old bank vaults, meeting various people on your way to the actual film. I imagine we’ll do something similar this year, but I don’t want to give too much away…”

Lost Lands Rooftop Cinema begins with The Beach on May 27. For more info, follow on Twitter or Facebook

[Main image: Shutterstock]


6 brilliantly unusual and unique cinemas you need to visit

Con Air fans just experienced the film the perfect way

11 huge summer blockbusters coming to a cinema near you