Screen Machine keeps on rolling

Screen Machine
Alan Robertson

Thanks to £350,000 funding from Screen Scotland, Regional Screen Scotland (RSS) has extended the lease of mobile cinema – Cinémobile. The lease ensures the continuation of the Screen Machine service to the Highlands & Islands of Scotland until April 2026

This allows RSS further time to raise £1.4 million to commission the build of a tailor made Screen Machine to take the service into the 2030s.  

The Screen Machine service is provided through the use of an 80-seat state-of-the-art air-conditioned mobile cinema which bring the latest films to remote and rural parts of Scotland. It is the only full-time self-contained digital mobile cinema provision service operating in the UK.

Regional Screen Scotland, the operator and manager of the Screen Machine mobile cinema service, confirmed the future of the service is secure until at least April 2026. The lease for the cinema, which is currently in use, will be extended by two years, from April 2024 to April 2026.

The Screen Machine service has brought the big screen experience to communities from Barra to Bettyhill for 26 years. In that time it has travelled over 250,000 miles – the equivalent of ten journeys around the world.

Simon Drysdale, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Regional Screen Scotland, said:

“We are immensely grateful to Screen Scotland for demonstrating their continued  support for Regional Screen Scotland and the much-loved Screen Machine by funding the fee to extend the lease of the Cinémobile for a further two years beyond April 2024. This means our customers can be confident that they will continue to have access to the big screen until at least April 2026. We have already made great progress in lobbying for support to commission the build of a brand new Screen Machine, which we intend to bring into use no later than April 2026.

This progress is largely down to efforts that our customers made in writing to their MSPs and other elected representatives, to tell them how much they love and value the Screen Machine. We are very grateful for all of the letters, emails, conversations and phone calls that have been sent or made on our behalf – your hard work is starting to pay off! We would urge our customers to continue to contact their local councillors, MSPs and MPs to impress upon them that the long-term future of the Screen Machine will only be secured when the new mobile cinema is commissioned. Fund raising for the new, permanent Screen Machine is our mission over the coming months.”

Sambrooke Scott, Screen Scotland, said:

“This interim solution ensures continuity while RSS strives to secure a permanent replacement for the beloved Screen Machine, and Screen Scotland are fully behind those efforts. Our funding not only extends the Cinémobile lease but also bolsters the resilience of RSS and helps the efforts to secure a new facility from April 2026 onwards.

“Screen Scotland’s commitment to the Screen Machine service and the communities it serves remains unwavering. But I want to underline that to be sustainable in the longer term the Screen Machine should be supported by the local authority areas that it serves, as well as by Scotland’s national screen body.

“We’re proud to support the continued efforts of Regional Screen Scotland in maintaining access to the full cinema experience through the lease of the Cinémobile.”