Screen Machine is a 78-seat digital mobile cinema owned and operated by the charity Regional Screen Scotland (RSS). Launched in 1998, it brings the latest film releases to over 40 communities throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
As it travels between communities, Screen Machine looks like any other lorry driving the roads or boarding the ferries of Scotland. But when it arrives at its destination, its trailer slowly expands and unfolds to create an auditorium wherein 78 people can comfortably sit and enjoy a cinematic experience identical to that in a static cinema.
Since Screen Machine started in 1998, we have used three mobile cinemas to deliver our service: Screen Machine 1 (from 1998 to 2005), Screen Machine 2 (2005 to 2023), and the Cinemobile (2023 to present), which we are currently leasing from Toutenkamion in France while we seek funding to build Screen Machine 3.
You can see a map of where we visit here. Depending on the location, our visits last between 2 to 4 days. We try to offer a variety of films during each stay, but due to the nature of our service we can’t bring every film everywhere. Some films skip our programme entirely, while others, often the popular titles, stay with us until they’ve been shown in every location.
It’s our pleasure to provide this service to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Whether you’re a local to an area we visit, or are just passing through, everyone is welcome to come in, sit back, and get lost in the complete cinematic experience.
Who We Are
It takes an entire team to run Screen Machine. This team can be divided into three components: the operators, the office team, and the ushers. Each possess a range of unique skills, knowledge, and expertise, working together to bring the latest films to your area.
Our operators transport the mobile cinema between locations, and open and close it before and after every visit. When we have a screening, the operator acts as front of house staff, confirming bookings and selling tickets on the door, and as the projectionist, screening the film. Amongst their many other duties, they also carry out regular maintenance on Screen Machine to keep it in good condition.
Our office team handles many of the administrative and logistical tasks and responsibilities for Screen Machine. These include but aren’t limited to: organising Screen Machine’s parking and ushers for each visit, submitting reports to distributors, paying invoices, deciding Screen Machine’s film programme, creating and distributing marketing materials, responding to customer enquiries, issuing refunds, and offering additional support to the operators.
For each screening, our operator is supported by an usher. An usher’s primary duties are to manage the flow of customers before and after the film, direct them to the toilets, and assist with anything else the operator might need. Our ushers are local to the areas we visit and act as a valuable link between each location’s audience and the operational side of the service.
REGIONAL SCREEN SCOTLAND
Screen Machine is owned and operated by Regional Screen Scotland, a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. It aims to enable more people in more places to share great screen experiences. You can read more about RSS on its website here.
As a charity, RSS is managed by a board of voluntary trustees who are drawn from a variety of backgrounds, from law and accounting to community development.
RSS is a regularly funded client of Creative Scotland/Screen Scotland. We are very grateful for them covering the fee to lease the Cinemobile. We also rely on the benefit of various trusts and foundations. Due to the nature of the Screen Machine service, we wouldn’t be able to operate without this. Unlike static cinemas, we don’t sell concessions such as popcorn or juice since we don’t have the space, and we don’t want to take business from local establishments. We also incur other costs such as ferry fees, fuel, and overnight accommodation.
A 2019 independent study found that Screen Machine displaced three times as much carbon as its operation produced. This was because its audience members didn’t have to travel long distances to see the latest films.