A unique outdoor experience has paved the way for a potential business franchise that could provide new opportunities for farmers who are looking to diversify. Danusia Osiowy finds out more about Film on a Farm.
When you think of watching a film, you can’t help but think of either being tucked up on the sofa or in darkness at the cinema, hand immersed in a bucket of popcorn.
So imagine the scenario of watching one of your favourite blockbusters while sat in a deckchair, in the middle of a green field, with a host of locally sourced food and drink to enjoy throughout the duration.
It is this concept which lies at the heart of outdoor cinema experience, Film on a Farm, founded by Hampshire farmer Chris Horn in 2015, as a way to diversify from his arable enterprise. “I was frustrated at having to travel to London to do anything different,” he explains. “I wanted to get people out into the great British countryside and as lover of films and the countryside I thought it would be a great combination.”
Initially, Chris hired a screen for the first year and tested out the theory one weekend on his own farm at Droxford to see if it would work and if anyone would turn up. Getting friends and family to spread the word, he and partner Sarah Murray did some leafleting, put up banners, advertised in local newspapers and became more active on social media.
“The weekend was a huge success and gave us encouragement to expand and last year we did seven screenings and this year were doing 13 at nine different venues.”
As the idea has grown momentum, the couple have dealt with requests from farmers who have heard about their venture either through word of mouth or social media. “The plan was to start approaching farms at the end of last season to see if it was something they wanted to bring to their venue,” says Chris.
“But we haven’t needed to do anything proactive as we have been inundated with farmers who contacted us directly as they were keen to diversify and bring something different to their venue.”
Chris now partners with 10 other farmers from all over the country, including Lincolnshire, Sussex and Cambridgeshire, screening events at historic family estates and working farms to bring an evening of entertainment in the countryside.
There are six films to choose from including Jaws, Top Gun, Back to the Future and Spectre. Visitors are welcomed at 7pm to enjoy local food and drink, with producers offering a free-range hog roast and barbecue, Tyrells Poshcorn, Jude’s Ice Cream and a fully stocked bar from the Tipsy Goose.
About 300 people typically come to watch each film and once they arrive are able to sit on the field before settling down to watch the movie at about 9pm – depending on the timing of the sunset.
Looking forward, Chris is keen to keep growing the business and welcome more farmers to mutually benefit both parties involved. “This year’s venues are all working on a collaboration basis with a profit share element for both parties, similar to a contract farming agreement and the plan is to keep growing. I’m excited for the future.”