Frequently Asked Questions
Tickets cannot be exchanged nor money refunded except in the event of a cancellation of a performance or in other exceptional circumstances. Please check very carefully when purchasing your tickets that they are for the correct location on the correct date as mistakes cannot be rectified.
If you buy tickets and then fall ill, you will not be entitled to a refund. We recommend that you instead pass your tickets on to family or friends.
Please note that you book at your own risk as programmes are subject to change and cancellation, sometimes at very short notice. Due to the unique nature of the Screen Machine service, we may cancel more shows than a static cinema.
We only cancel or change a visit due to exceptional circumstances, such as road closure or cancellation/changes to ferry services. These can cause a visit to be shorter than planned or cancelled completely. If a visit is curtailed, we will still try to offer the planned programme, but it is possible we won’t be able show every film intended, which we understand can be disappointing.
If you have booked tickets for a cancelled screening, we will contact you via the email address provided and process a refund. We try to give as much notice as possible, and will also provide updates on social media and on our website. We may also call you with the phone number provided if we are forced to cancel a screening close to its start time.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form on our contact page. You can call us (0131 550 3734) but our office is intermittently occupied throughout the week. A switchboard service will take a message if no one is in, but we can’t guarantee we will respond to it promptly.
On weekends, we check emails intermittently and will only reply to urgent requests that cannot wait until Monday morning.
Full Price Adult: £9
Adult Plus £2 donation: £11
Adult Plus £1 donation: 10
15-and-under, 16-25 year old, Senior Citizen (60+), Student, Disabled, Claimant: £6.50
Concession plus £2 donation: £8.50
Concession plus £1 donation: £7.50
Tickets are available online and on the door.
We sell 70 tickets online up to 2.5 hours before a film’s scheduled start time, and each is subject to a 50p booking feel. We strongly recommend you book online as they guarantee you will get your tickets.
At least 8 tickets are available on the door, alongside any others that didn’t sell online. You can buy these when the doors open 30 minutes before the film starts.
Please note that 14-and-unders must be accompanied by a parent or 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.
All seats are unreserved. If you require seats together, please arrive in plenty of time.
We have a hydraulic lift for anyone who needs assistance accessing Screen Machine. We ask you contact us ahead of time so we can prepare it for use.
We also offer at least one captioned screening per visit, as well as options for customers who would benefit using headphones for hard of hearing or audio description.
You can read about all of these in greater detail on our Accessibility page here.
Yes, Screen Machine is a participating cinema in the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association national card scheme.
CEA Cards can be used by those of our customers who have a disability. It allows the cardholder to obtain one free ticket for the person who is accompanying them to the cinema, and who provides the assistance they require as a result of their disability, provided the cardholder purchase a ticket for the same performance of the same film in the same auditorium.
It costs £6 to apply for a CEA Card. You can visit www.ceacard.co.uk for full details.
We will only use your mobile phone number if you have tickets for a screening that has been cancelled or changed within a few hours of its scheduled start time. We will also email you, but calling you could save you a trip if you are coming from further away.
It is your choice to give us your phone number. We will not share it with any third parties.
When you book online, you should receive a confirmation email that contains your booking reference number, which you can use to claim your tickets on the Screen Machine door.
If you didn’t receive your confirmation email, then we suggest you check your junk/spam folder, as they sometimes end up there.
If it’s not there, and the email never arrives, it’s possible you entered your email address incorrectly. You can email us, and we can confirm your booking as well as your reference number.
Your reference number will appear in the web browser after you make your booking, so we recommend you take a note of it then just in case the confirmation email doesn’t arrive.
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 2022 we visited 40+ 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 spring 2024.
In our 25th 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. 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 five 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 Screen Scotland. 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!
From 15/05/23, for one year, we are leasing the Cinemobile. The design of this cinema is different to Screen Machine 2, which we have used for the past 17 years. As a result, it will be unable to reach seven island locations: Cumbrae, Eigg, Gigha, Jura, Raasay, Rousay and Shapinsay.
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.