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Subtitle: A Little Backyard Guerrilla Theatre

A few weeks back a friend and I got to talking about old movies we loved when we were kids. Eventually, the conversation turned to Conan the Barbarian, which I have in my video collection. One thing led to another, and I decided to do a bit of guerrilla theatre in my backyard. Here’s the email I sent to a couple of friends:

Subject: Exercising your inner barbarian…

Hi everyone:

Saturday night we’re going to be doing a Conan night at my place.
The plan:

Light up the fire pit and scorch some red meat, then as soon as it gets dark, watch Conan (the original) on the big screen in my back yard. What could possibly go wrong?

We’ll have the pit fired up by 5pm-ish, and the movie probably around 10. Bring your own slab of flesh for cooking.

I’ll be headed to the farmer’s market to pick up steaks early in the afternoon, so if you want to join, just let me know.

Thanks out to Pat for loaning the projector for the evening. I promise to have at least one computer working to hook up to it.

– John

It actually went off pretty smooth. I took some pics of the lead up to the showing, by which time it was too dark for the camera to be effective, so, sorry, no pics of the movie being shown.

First: The fire pit in full blaze. The computer in the background would later be hooked up to the projector, but at this point, it was just kickin’ out some MP3s.

Fire Pit

Next: A sampling of some grilled flesh. Mostly steaks, and a chicken breast. All the meat was grilled over the fire pit.

Cooked Meat

A typical plate of food. That’s a fine looking hunk of steak.

Plate of Vittles

Everyone getting down to business:

Everyone Eats

My wife laughing at a joke I missed while I fiddled with the camera:

The Blushing Bride

The Projection Rig all hooked up. Someone commented it looked kinda white-trashy. Personally, I prefer to think of it as hackerific. The sawhorses with a tabletop are to give the projector enough height to shoot over the heads of the audience.

Digital Projection Rig

And finally, the screen set up in front of the garage. I used an old school “silver coat” screen. They stopped making them in the late 70s, but man, do they produce a nice imaging surface.

Silver Screen

The screen looks white in that image, but that’s a result of the flash. In person, it looks opaque grey. The reflectivity on that thing is just amazing. Nowadays, you can get similar “High Contrast” screens, but I just don’t find they produce as good an image.

Everyone had a ball, and my neighbours from both sides even joined in for the movie portion. I learned a couple of things about outdoor theatre doing this, and there’s a few tweaks I have in mind for the next time I do this sort of thing. Probably sometime in the fall when it gets dark earlier (around 9 pm-ish). We actually didn’t get the movie going until 10:30, because we had to wait that long for it to get dark.

Something to say?


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