With COVID-19 closures lingering longer than many anticipated, the Sag Harbor Cinema, which has been searching for new ways to bring the movies to the people, this week raised the curtain on the “MovieVan,” a custom rigged and painted Ford Transit cargo van, outfitted with everything needed to set up an outdoor screening facility for up to 100 people in under 60 minutes including an inflatable screen, portable projectors and outdoor speakers.
The van is the gift of Robert and Suzanne Harwood. “The potential of the van was obvious to Rob and me as soon as it was proposed,” Ms. Harwood said in a release. “The van is a fun and flexible way to extend the entertainment and educational power of film beyond the walls of our new cinema and into the broader community.”
“We leapt at the opportunity,” said the cinema’s executive director, Jamie Hook. “With so much uncertainty surrounding the opening of cinemas, the MovieVan was a no-brainer, allowing us to travel our programming to distant communities in a safe, outdoor environment that is more accessible than your average drive-in theater.”
In the meantime, Mr. Hook said he expected the cinema to announce as early as next week that its theater on Main Street in Sag Harbor will open its doors to the public in late April.
So far, the MovieVan has sparked collaborations with groups across the East End, including the Sag Harbor Cycle Company, the Montauk Historical Society, the Longhouse Reserve, and the SANS community of Sag Harbor, Mr. Hook said.
One of the collaborations, which Mr. Hook hinted at last month in a presentation to the Sag Harbor Village Board, will be an East End Bike-In, at which bicyclists will be encouraged to attend bicycle-themed movies at locations from Marine Park in Sag Harbor to the Plaza in Montauk and Agawam Park in Southampton. Some of the films being considered for the series include the obvious, such as “Breaking Away” and “Bicycle Thieves,” to the less so obvious, such as “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “E.T.” Along with the film screenings will be a free pop-up bike repair clinic, bike gear for sale, and if everything works out, a pedal-powered smoothie bar.
“We are very excited to be part of this program,” said Sag Harbor Cycle’s Jason Lucas. “Cycling also has a great community and this is an opportunity for people who have recently discovered cycling because of the pandemic, to meet and feel included in that community.”
Mr. Hook said the cinema expects to screen films at both Second House and the Montauk Lighthouse as part of a collaboration with the Montauk Historical Society. “We are so excited about the possibility of bringing films to the people of Montauk,” said the society’s director, Mia Certic. “The Second House offers a wonderful environment for family outdoor activities, and we are pleased to invite the MovieVan to help us activate this and our other spaces throughout the summer.”
Other programs being explored by the MovieVan include a weekly outdoor summer screening at Mashashimuet Park, a special Wednesday night “Boat-In” screening at Marine Park in July, and a collaboration with OLA of Eastern Long Island.
Finally, the MovieVan will be available for private rentals on non-programmed nights, giving new meaning to the term “home movies.”