It is Iain MacColl’s job to bring the magic of film to inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands. He talks to David Craik about The Screen Machine’s history, and how funding is now required to keep ‘mobile cinema’ running for future generations.
THERE CAN’T be too many 70-year-old truck drivers who would dress up in full Abba gear and dance in front of nearly 100 filmgoers for a showing of ‘Mama Mia’. Not only once of course, but even more flamboyantly for the sequel!
But Iain MacColl isn’t your typical driver. For the last 25 years he has been one of the main operators of Edinburgh based The Screen Machine, a wholly self-contained mobile cinema with its own tractor unit and trailer, which traverses the single tracks and ferry routes of the Highlands and Islands.
Launched by HI-Arts, a cultural arm of Highlands and Islands Enterprise in 1998, the air-conditioned cinema trailer has around 80 seats and visits 40 locations from bigger towns such as Tobermory to smaller places like Durness in the north west. The service, which is now run and owned by charity Regional Screen Scotland, stays on locations for between one and four days.