About Us

Screen Machine is an 80-seat air conditioned, digital mobile cinema service which has been bringing the latest films to rural areas of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland since 1998.

Screen Machine visits over 40 communities across the Highlands and Islands on a regular circuit, with each tour lasting around 12 weeks, and each visit lasting between one and four days. You can see a map of our touring locations here.

Visiting Screen Machine is just like visiting a normal cinema: you’ll sit in a darkened auditorium with comfortable seats which all have a clear view of the large screen, and be able to enjoy excellent digital projection and impressive surround sound.

As our capacity is only 80 (and much less while Covid-related restrictions apply) we encourage everyone to book online in advance to be sure of your tickets. Normally all seats are unallocated, but this may be different while social distancing requirements remain in place. All you need to have to be able to claim your tickets is your booking reference number, or the number of the debit or credit card used for the online payment. Please see our Terms and Conditions here.

Screen Machine has wheelchair access. If you are a wheelchair user, we ask you to please call our office in advance in order that we can prepare in advance of your visit – (0131) 550 3734. We can book your ticket and arrange entry for any carer who may accompany you.

For hearing aid users, we have a personal inductive neckloop facility for people with hearing aids equipped with a T-switch. This enables the user to hear the film soundtrack through their own hearing aid. If you would find this facility useful, please ask the operator or usher when you arrive. We also regularly offer captioned screenings to help the hard of hearing: these are always clearly advertised in advance.

For those with visual impairment, we are currently working to have Audio Description available for every screening. We will announce once this is in place. This will employ the headphones we use for our Hard of Hearing customers, which are cleaned after every use.

Screen Machine does not have its own toilets. Instead we make use of a range of facilities, from public toilets to those in hotels and sports club houses. Our usher will be able to show you where the relevant toilet is.

Every location which Screen Machine visits is different, so we are in the process of compiling access information on each location: where the parking is, what the surface is like, where the toilets are. If you have any questions about any of our locations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our usher and operator are always on hand to help.

Screen Machine aims to screen a wide range of films, and other content, to appeal to as wide a range of audiences as possible. You can read our Programming Manifesto here.

Who We Are

Screen Machine is owned and operated by Regional Screen Scotland (RSS), a company limited by guarantee with charitable status which aims to enable more people in more places to share great screen experiences. You can read more about RSS’s development work at www.regionalscreenscotland.org.

The Screen Machine Team has three components:

  • Our two Operators, Iain and David, who drive Screen Machine between locations, maintain it, open and close it on site, sell tickets, and screen the films. Each Operator works a two weeks’ on/ two weeks’ off cycle so that we can keep Screen Machine on the road throughout the year, stopping only for a break over Christmas and New Year.
  • Our network of local Ushers. Ushers welcome audiences into the auditorium, help them find their seats, show them to the toilet facilities if needed, and generally offer any help that’s required. They’re also an invaluable link between our local audiences and the Screen Machine team, not least as most have been with us for many years.
  • The programming and administration team:
    • Fiona works with our bookers, the INDY Cinema Group, to draw up the film programme, agrees the tour schedule with our Operators, and manages all marketing, promotion and fund-raising, and also programmes Small Screen Machine, our Video on demand streaming service.
    • Drew supports Fiona in preparing mailouts, posters, newsletters, and all social media, both for big and Small Screen Machine programmes.
    • Angie organises all site locations, books all ushers, looks after licences, and reports to film distributors, and is also our GDPR and Environmental champion.
    • Brenda organises all payments, and records all income, prepares regular sets of accounts and manages the staff payroll.
    • Harriet and Shona primarily work on RSS’s development remit, but also contribute to programming and outreach ideas and projects.
    • Robert is the overall Director, responsible for strategy and policy, managing the team, liaising with funders, and working with RSS’s Board of Trustees.

As a charity, RSS is ultimately managed by a Board of voluntary trustees who are drawn from a range of different backgrounds, from film-making to the law and accounting to community development, and are based all over Scotland, from Glasgow to Orkney.

RSS is a regularly funded client of Creative Scotland, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which originally conceived of the Screen Machine service, is also a crucial funder. We also benefit from ongoing support from Caledonian MacBrayne, and from a wide range of trusts and foundations. Screen Machine could not operate without such support: ‘normal’ static cinemas make as much as half their income from catering, which is not an option for us—we don’t have the space and we wouldn’t want to take sales away from local businesses. And as a mobile cinema, we have costs that fixed buildings don’t face, including ferry fees and overnight accommodation and subsistence.

A 2019 independent study found that Screen Machine displaced three times as much carbon as its operation produced, because of the number of audience members who did not have to drive long distances to see the latest films. Since then we have been able to replace our tractor (thanks to funding from Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise), which is much more energy efficient than the old vehicle.