As the free movie ended, the audience of about a thousand displayed their gratitude in a round of applause. The lights in the park turned on and they slowly began their exit on that beautiful crisp night in July.
Central Park? Nope.
Seattle? No, sir.
This amazing event happened right in my hometown of Hamburg, NY, a small suburb south of Buffalo. This was the fourth year Southtown Audio Video sponsored the Movie in the Park with a rental donation of the audio video system. This year’s movie event was Pixar’s Brave. It takes some planning to put forth such a successful event, and the community loves it.
The Tech: Set up begins at 4 p.m., the day of the event. The first step is installing Open Air’s 16-foot inflatable rear-projection screen. The audience has grown from a few hundred to almost a thousand over the last few years so, we upgraded our screen from a 9-footer to a 16-foot screen. It fit perfectly in the covered bandstand as if they were meant to be together.
This new, larger screen also allows us to rear project, which is a huge plus. The equipment is now protected under the bandstand. In previous years, we had to rope off a section in front of the screen and have someone sit with the units to safeguard from weather and children. It was stressful! (Note the “saved seating” blankets spread out at 4 p.m. for a 9 p.m. movie!)
QSC powered speakers were used to distribute audio throughout the entire park. (Has anyone noticed how lightweight and clean sounding powered speakers have become?) But the creme de la creme was the Panasonic 10-thousand-lumen projector. Never have we been able to start the movie before it was dark. This year we were able to start just after sunset. It was a stunning outdoor experience (if I do say so myself).
Why put forth so much effort for no profit?
Marketing: As a sponsor of the event, our name is associated and listed on social media, posters, and around the town. There is a Facebook page, with more than 5,200 followers, dedicated to promoting local events in our village. This event gets us on that page without selling anything.
Exposure: When else do you get a thousand people staring at you with undivided attention? Part of our deal is that we welcome the crowd and introduce the movie. We thank the community and remind them how important it is to shop locally and point to our store (which just so happens to be directly across the street). This year we worked with Verizon Fios for a drawing to win a tablet. This giveaway allowed us to make additional announcements and capture client information.
Community and Company Involvement: Movie in the Park is a “warm and fuzzy” affair. It not only reminds the community that we are here, but also shows that we care. On the business side, it is a great team-building exercise. Not often is the whole team (sales and installers) together for a period of time in a happy environment. This event makes them proud to work for the company; it is a feel good for all involved.
Growth: When we started doing this event, we received requests to rent the system from us. We now rent out the smaller system with the 9-foot screen, and this year we have added the rental of the larger system (16-foot screen). Renting it out adds cash flow to our business, adds exposure in other towns, and keeps employees busy. (It also pays for the equipment.) The town beach just rented the system and showed Jaws. Next month they’ll be showing Finding Nemo.
Have you and your company ever done something like this? Has it benefited your business? Do you think we’re creative or crazy for doing it? Tell me in the comments section below.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.