Sunday, July 6, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Meet the Screen

Behind the Scenes is a weekly series that covers an aspect of the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America, from food to films, traditions to (Airstream) trailers. This series will post each Sunday evening, letting you in on another secret behind the Film Fest. Stick with us for all 10 weeks; by the end you'll be an expert!  

Even if you don't have the Bryant Park events calendar memorized, you know that it's Film Fest season when the screen is loaded into the park. The screen lives in the park all season, and is the backdrop for lots more events than just the Film Fest. Here is the inside scoop!

The screen, which is 40 feet long by 20 feet wide, acts like a huge set of blinds. During the week, the "blinds" (vertical slats) are open to allow light and air to pass through the screen. Otherwise, the screen would block light on the Fountain Terrace and be susceptible to strong gusts of wind (think of how your umbrella threatens to blow away during a blustery storm). On Monday evenings, the panels "close" to create one flat screen.

The screen panels are in the "open" position during load-in earlier this season. You can see the orange crane to the right of the screen as it installs the final touches. 

On movie nights, the screen is in the "closed" position. This photo was taken just before the lawn opening at 5pm. 

The screen is loaded in overnight a week before the Film Fest begins. This year, load-in began at 12:01am on Sunday, June 8 and was completed by early afternoon. Because the screen is so tall, it has long feet that stretch behind (partly encircling the Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain) to act as a counterweight. 

Installing such a large seasonal screen may seem like the hard way to go about showing an outdoor film, but there is a method to the madness. The rigid screen surface allows for better image clarity when the film is projected onto it. And, we've taken advantage of the structure by turning the area directly in front of the screen into an elevated stage, which is used for our Bryant Park Presents Modern Dance and Broadway in Bryant Park series. 

The screen will live in the park until the Film Fest's conclusion, at which point we'll say sayonara until next year!

Join us tomorrow evening for Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks' outrageous comedic take on a spaghetti Western (and ranked #6 on the list of AFI's 100 Funniest Movies).

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Mondays, June 16 through August 18
Lawn opens at 5pm
Films start 30 minutes after sunset

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