Man setting up projector in a backyard


By Murphy-Goode Winery

Outdoor Movie Night - Projector Screen DIY

Hosting friends over for a party or BBQ? Offer some awesome entertainment by including an outdoor movie night in your plans.

The point of a cookout is to gather, visit and meet new people, and, of course, eat and drink. But it’s always nice to have a general focal point or conversation starter to keep things moving throughout the night, and give folks a way to interact once the trips to the food table have slowed down.

Our vote: go for the outdoor movie. It’s reminiscent of a trip to the drive-in, or a movies in the park on a picnic blanket. Digital projectors are easy to rent, and have become increasingly affordable to buy. Just get one with an HDMI in port, and plug in your DVD player, Apple TV or Roku box, or laptop. Someone you know probably has one of these. We picked up this one from ViewSonic online. It’s an affordable option that’s plenty bright, and all the tech review sites give it the thumbs up. We’ll keep using it for many ManMade projects and outdoor movie nights to come.


Outdoor movie night - Projector screen DIY


Here’s the thing - you don’t actually have to watch the movie. It’s really background entertainment. It’s more about giving movement to the space. It gives people something to chat about. And having a flickering screen brings a special something to the party, like visuals at a concert, or the TVs set to low at your local pub. And because no one has to watch, it’s a great chance to throw on a movie filled with scenes and set pieces that everyone knows well … those comfort food movies that you can’t help but watch on a rainy day. You could even make a YouTube playlist of some iconic music videos.

Here’s a list of recommended films that will work for any party:

  • The Goonies
  • Back to Future
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Wayne’s World
  • Anchorman
  • The Princess Bride
  • Blues Brothers
  • This Is Spinal Tap
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Three Stooges Shorts
  • Stand By Me
  • Caddyshack
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • The Graduate


Once the film has served its purpose, use the projector and screen combo to do something interactive: play some video games. It’s a great way to get folks that don’t know each other to connect, and, if you choose the game wisely, create a opportunity for anyone to participate.


Projector screen DIY for your outdoor movie night.


Of course, you’ll need a screen on which to project your images.

Here’s how to make an easy DIY option that you can hang anywhere:

  • Get some white blackout cloth, which is used for window shades and curtains. You can find it at the fabric store or online.
  • Get two lengths of ½" PVC pipe and fold and sew a channel along the bottom, and basic sleeve at the top, leaving some space for insert hardware. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can try a strong adhesive like E6000 or PVA glue, or you could even use a medium weight staple gun.
  • Then, insert some evenly spaced grommets along the top.
  • Slide in the PVC and cut to size, and use rope and hooks to mount it (on a wall, your roof eaves, a shed, a tree, etc). You can easily remove the PVC and fold it up for storage, and insert some eyelet screws in your ceiling for indoor use.

From “How To Host An All-Out Barbecue Party” by our friends at ManMadeDIY: