Frequently Asked Questions
Yes we have made changes in response to Covid. You can read about our new protocols and changes on our Visiting Us page.
Tickets cannot be exchanged nor money refunded except in the event of a cancellation of a performance (see below), or in other exceptional circumstances. When booking on-line, make your ticket selection very carefully as mistakes cannot be rectified later.
Please note that you book at your own risk as programmes are subject to change and cancellation. This only happens in exceptional circumstances, for example, when very bad weather causes road closure or cancellation/changes to the ferry services. This can cause us to cancel a visit to a community completely, or to make a shorter visit than planned. When curtailing a programme, we will still try to offer the full choice, but it may result in us offering one screening of a film instead of two or more. Or we may not be able to show a film at all, which we understand is disappointing. Due to the unusual nature of the service that the Screen Machine offers, it may be that we cancel more shows than more conventional cinemas.
In these cases, if you have booked tickets, we will process a refund. We will e-mail all of our customers who have pre-booked using the e-mail address you provided to to let you know what is happening.
It is not possible to transfer your booking reference to a different screening, even if it is for the same film. Your booking reference is peculiar to tickets bought for one particular screening.
We will always give as much notice of cancellations as we are able to: via our website, twitter, facebook and e-newsletter.
You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. At weekends we check for e-mails coming in intermittently and will reply to you if your request is urgent and cannot wait until Monday morning. The office phone number is (0131) 550 3734. As a result of the pandemic, fewer members of the team work from the office. But if you call us there, and no member of the team are present, your message will be passed on to us.
The Highlands and Islands are very large, and there is only one Screen Machine! So, of course, many more communities would like to have the Screen Machine visit, than we can fit into our touring circuit. In 2017 we visited 51 different locations in 6 different Council areas. That might seem an argument for commissioning another Screen Machine, but the challenge would then lie in finding, not just the substantial capital cost of an additional Machine, but also the significant level of ongoing funding to support the operating costs of two Machines. At the moment, we’re grateful that we’ve been offered sufficient funding to secure the current service through to 2021/22.
In our 21st year, and as a result of the pandemic, we’re taking a considered look at our touring circuit, to ensure that it is as effective and efficient as we can reasonably hope to make it. There are of course many different factors to take into account, not least of which are the Summer and Winter Ferry timetables! Then there’s also the viability of routes: for example, we can only get in and out of Mallaig by sea, not by road. And there’s the size of populations in different communities: some are big enough to merit a visit lasting three of four days at a time, others can only support a one- or two-day sojourn.
Over twenty years, much of the current circuit has developed historically, and so what we’re aiming to do now is to state a series of principles which can underpin all decisions we make in the future about where to take the Screen Machine. These are not hard and fast, they’re rather a series of overlapping issues to take into account when considering any location.
The first and most crucial point, of course, is the site itself, which must be: on tarmac or ‘hard-stand’, easy for customers to find and get to, and close to public toilets.
Thereafter, the factors we’ll take into account (in no particular order) will be:
- Size of population
- average attendances, in relation to population size, over the past five years
- Islands are given priority (over half our screenings last year were on islands)
- Travel time to the nearest cinema
- Travel time to the next closest Screen Machine location
Once we’ve confirmed that a particular community should be on the circuit, the next factors to take into account are:
- How long should a visit be, from one to four days? We prefer to visit for a minimum of two days, both to reduce wear and tear on the Machine (and our drivers) and to enable us to present extra activities on the second day (a matinee, a schools visit, a session for a care home), but there are some isolated communities which are not big enough to support more than a one day visit
- How often should the Machine come visiting? We’re conscious that, over the years, our tours have begun to stretch, sometimes to as long as 12 weeks. We’ll now aim to limit each tour to 9 weeks which will mean that our core circuit will benefit from up to five visits a year. But some communities—for reasons of cost, or distance, or size of population—may only be feasible for fewer visits, and coming to some locations only three or four times a year will free up time for additional visits, once or twice a year, to some of the hardest to get to locations.
It may be helpful to stress that we receive no funding from Local Authorities. Our two, vital, public funders are Creative Scotland and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. We have had some small amounts of funding from some Councils in the past, notably the Western Isles, but as Council cultural budgets have shrunk, we took the decision not to compete for diminishing funds with hard-pressed local arts groups.
But we do receive some financial help from individual communities, notably on the individual Outer Isles of Orkney, and in Fort Augustus, where either the cost of visiting, in relation to box office income, would be prohibitive, or the location is closer to an ‘static’ than we would normally include, and we are always open to discussing such arrangements!
Many more communities would like the Screen Machine to visit them, than can be included in a regular touring circuit. So we regularly review the circuit and make shorter or longer term changes. No changes are irreversible! There are several reasons why we might stop visiting a particular location:
A drop in ticket sales. This would have to be a trend over two or more visits before we’d consider moving to a different location.
Loss of suitable site. The Screen Machine needs a ‘hard standing’ site (not grass), that’s close to parking and public toilets, and reasonably visible for our audiences.
Proximity to another venue. Perhaps a previously closed cinema has reopened, as in Aberfeldy, or a multi-purpose venue starts doing regular film screenings. We’re only concerned if the other venue is showing a similar programme of films; otherwise we’d hope that the Screen Machine programme can complement, not compete with, film societies and more ‘arthouse’ film programmes.
‘One night stands’. If ticket sales are reducing at a particular location, we might reduce the length of each visit, from three days to two, or two to one. But, operationally, we can’t have too many one night stands in a row, so there can be a knock-on effect from such changes.
Changes in circuit routes. The differences between winter and summer ferry timetables, or other changes to the circuit, may mean that in order to keep our route logical, we may have to rearrange how we visit certain locations, and one or more might simply become impractical.
Funding. We’re fortunate in having a mix of public and commercial funders which enables us to visit many locations, such as some of the smaller Hebridean islands, where otherwise the size of the population, and the travel costs, would make that location impractical.
When we do withdraw from a location, or reduce the length of our stay, we will always aim to inform members of that community of our reasons, and will welcome discussions as to how any issues might be addressed.
Full Price Adult: £7.50
16-and-under, 16-25, Senior Citizen (60+), Student, Income support, Welcome 21: £5.50
There are two ways to buy tickets:
– Book on-line here. Again, these are available up to 2 and a half hours before doors open for each show, and they are subject to a booking fee of 50p per ticket.
– At least eight tickets for each film will go on sale at the Screen Machine 30 mins before scheduled start time.
Please note: All 14-and-unders must be accompanied by a parent/21+ guardian for all 8:00/8:30pm screenings.
Proof of age/status may be required when purchasing or collecting tickets.
The operator reserves the right of admission and will not admit latecomers.
We will only use your mobile phone number to let you know if the screening(s) you have booked for have been cancelled or changed in any way. It is your choice to give it to us or not. We will not share your phone number with any third parties.
All seats are unreserved. If you require seats together, please arrive in plenty of time.
Yes, Screen Machine is a participating cinema in the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association national card scheme. The CEA Card is for use by those of our customers who have a disability. The CEA Card allows the cardholder to obtain ONE free ticket for the person who is accompanying you to enable you to visit the cinema, by providing the assistance you require as a result of your disability, provided you purchase an applicable full price ticket for yourself for the same performance of the same film in the same auditorium. It costs £6 to apply for a CEA Card. You can pick up a copy of the application form at the Screen Machine, or visit www.ceacard.co.uk for full details.
When you complete your on-line booking, within a couple of minutes you should receive a separate e-mail which confirms your booking, and gives you a booking code. If you do not receive this, there are a couple of reasons why this could be:
1 You did not enter your e-mail address accurately
2 You use as an @btinternet email address. We have noticed that the vast majority of our customers who do not receive their email confirmation use an @btinternet email address. We have been advised that this is because BT is trying to prevent its customers from receiving what they think could be spam. So it might be worthwhile checking in your spam or junk file, to see if your confirmation code is there.
We recommend that when you complete your booking, you take a note of your confirmation code which will appear on your screen. Just bring that along to the Screen Machine, and all will be well. Or contact us here at the office by emailing email@example.com. we keep a close eye on such inquiries coming in and aim to help you as quickly as we can.