Kimberley Cleland loves seeing the joy on people’s faces when they go to a Night Owl cinema event for the first time.
“There’s something a little bit magic about being outside, huddled under the stars together, enjoying a classic movie on a giant screen,” she says.
The woman behind Tauranga’s beloved outdoor cinema events has always been passionate about bringing the community together.
So when she and a friend attended a movie night at Auckland’s Silo Park, an idea quickly began to take shape. “It was a really great way to bring people to that space,” she recalls. “There was nothing like that happening here in Tauranga so we decided to give it a go.”
In the summer of 2013 she launched Night Owl Cinema on the waterfront in downtown Tauranga. The Arts Kitchen Charitable Trust took the new event under its wing, and with help from the team at Little Big Events to provide food trucks, music and market stalls, the cinema proved to be a huge hit.
“I was just really amazed at how it all came together,” she says.
“Another big thing is getting people out at night because that’s not really part of our culture like it is in other places like Europe. I think it makes a community feel safer when people can take ownership of these spaces and feel connected to them day or night.”
After a successful debut season, Night Owl Cinema relocated to Mt Drury the following summer.
“It was the perfect location because of its natural terracing,” she says. “It also meant our capacity could increase so more people could come along and enjoy it. And because it’s across from one of our most iconic locations in Tauranga, it’s a really beautiful place to host the event as well.”
This summer Night Owl Cinema will step up another gear. Having recently purchased their own cinema equipment (so it no longer needs to be hired), movie nights will now be held in a range of new locations including Omokoroa Domain, Tye Park in Welcome Bay, and Fergusson Park in Matua.
“I think we’ve always been a community-focused event but obviously being in one location (Mt Drury) means we only serve those who can get there. So this summer we wanted to share it around. It’s also grown quite organically too because people have specifically asked us to come to these other locations as well and we are working with local people, building their capacity to bring great events to their neighbourhoods.”
Night Owl’s new neighbourhood expansion plans will be made easier thanks to a $10,000 grant from BayTrust.
“There’s quite a few costs involved in running these events but we only want to charge a gold coin donation so it keeps it accessible for people to come along,” Cleland explains.
“This money will go a long way to making Night Owl Cinemas absolutely incredible this season and a long way to making our project sustainable as well.”
The grant will help pay costs such as licensing fees to movie distribution companies, electricity, transport and promotion.
“We have so many different people and organisations supporting us and we couldn’t do it without everybody being on board. It means we can be truly collaborative and make big things happen this summer.”
For a full schedule of Night Owl Cinema’s upcoming events visit http://nightowlcinema.org.nz