Cinema with Sol
The most expensive components of Sol Cinema
are two 120W solar panels ($1,400 each). The
panels juice four lithium-ion electric car batteries
that were imported from Hong Kong due to their
lack of availability in the U.K. And while it takes a full
day of sunshine to top off the batteries, the movie
house rarely uses a full charge.
During a typical event, they showcase a series of
shorts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then finish it off
with a full-length feature film. The feature is projected
on an outdoor screen using a 1,500-lumen projector,
which cost $1,600. O’Connor handled the projection
and video equipment design and installation.
The mobile movie house is transported by a
Volkswagen Eurovan powered by waste vegetable
oil. Last year was Sol Cinema’s first season, with
bookings throughout Ireland and the U.K. For 2011,
Undercurrents is hoping for a full European tour
with its sights set on the Cannes Film Festival.
It wouldn’t be the best venue for watching Avatar,
but it’s a surefire hit for the follow-up to Al Gore’s
An Inconvenient Truth. Don’t forget the organic, fair-trade popcorn! —Jerry James Stone
A tiny, solar-powered cinema is making its way
across Europe, promising patrons an intimate
movie-viewing experience and red-carpet treatment.
The Sol Cinema is a mobile, solar-powered movie
house run by the U.K.-based charity Undercurrents.
The tiny cinema, which seats eight adults or 12 kids
comfortably, shows all kinds of films, especially
those on environmental issues such as climate
change. It’s like Current TV but with ushers.
Photograph by Paul O'Connor
The micro movie house — originally a two-berth
caravan from the 1960s that cost about $100 —
took “a [whole] year of head-scratching to be able
to fit everything,” says Undercurrents co-founder
Paul O’Connor. And it took an additional four
months to actually convert it.
Artist Jo Furlong and volunteers Ami and Beth
Marsden completed it in 2009. Renovation costs
were minimized through very dedicated dumpster
diving and many trips to the local junkyard.
>> Sol Cinema Specs: