Get a glimpse of the people behind open-air cinema in the series “People behind AIRSCREEN”. First off is AIRSCREEN’s official partner for the United Kingdom:
Michael Hayes, Urban Entertainment, Sheffield (UK)
AIRSCREEN user since 2011
Tell us something about your company? What do you do at Urban Entertainment?
We are the UK’s leading supplier for pop-up cinema. We offer five different size AIRSCREENs for small screenings e.g. by private clients to large drive-in cinema events. We provide a premium service including the screen in form of an AIRSCREEN, high definition projectors, sound systems and everthing else needed for an event. We also do live events e.g. the Olympics or football using SKY feeds. We try not to just provide pop-up cinema but a larger service portfolio to be more versatile and meet the needs of the clients.
Also over the past couple of years, other similar companies in the UK have hired our services for staff training with regards to installation of pop-up cinemas.
What sizes do you have?
We’ve got a nice little exhibition screen, which is a custom made 6ft AIRSCREEN airtight, a 10ft AIRSCREEN nano, a 16ft AIRSCREEN airtight, a 24ft AIRSCREEN classic and the largest one we have is a 40ft AIRSCREEN classic, which we use for larger events mainly drive-in cinema. Especially in the UK it helps to stand out a little bit more as there is no one really doing it on a scale we do.
What interested you in AIRSCREEN when you started out with Urban Entertainment?
When we had the idea of Urban Entertainment and what we wanted to do, AIRSCREEN was something we were looking at from the start. However, funilly enough the first screen we ever had was a small budget screen imported from America which we used with small projectors. As we used this for a local event in Sheffield we got some media coverage which coincidentally found its way to the AIRSCREEN staff and they got in contact with me and invited me to visit them. Then it only took 4 months to purchase two AIRSCREENs. We thought it may take us five years to take this step but we thought if we want to do a proper job and offer a high quality service from the start then AIRSCREEN is the way to go.
So what exactly made you switch to the AIRSCREEN products?
In a nutshell: quality. I did not want anyone to come to one of our events, see the set-up and look at the screen and go away thinking: I can do better than this. People should not leave our events without a wow factor. We have been around for quite some time now and we know that there is no inflatable screen manufacturer out there that can compete with AIRSCREEN.
What are the feedbacks from the clients to your events?
We always like to arrive on site quite early, well before the actual events starts. The main feature and focal point of any pop-up cinema event is the screen. And again it’s that wow factor that attracts people to the event. We have got the screen standing six hours before the actual screening and this way we will get a lot more sales on the day. It just stands out. Folks walking by one of our AIRSCREENS, whether it be on a car park or some kind of public field, they got attracted by the size and become curious on what is going on there.
What makes the AIRSCREEN so special for you apart from quality?
The reliability – it is almost weather proof, except for really high winds, and we know it is something that we can always rely on. Once it is up we can concentrate on the AV set-up and everthing works flawless.
How long does it take to get the screen up?
Pratically, the 16ft takes us 15-20 min to actually install and inflate it. The 40ft screen including all anchor points and attachments probably takes us 40 min.
What are your experiences with wind and AIRSCREEN?
With AIRSCREEN we can work with winds up to 24 mph (38km/h). In practice, we did over a hundred screenings so far and not one where we had to deflate a screen including the larger ones. It is the technical side to it, the way how AIRSCREENs are made, that is the reason why we chose to use AIRSCREEN in the first place.
What was the most memorable event for you so far?
One event that does stand out is the Drive in Cinema set up we provided for The Atomic Festival this year, if you can imagine a Drive in Cinema at its peak in the 50’s / 60’s in America with hundreds of classic American cars, then that gives you an idea of this event. And that’s why we screen more Drive in Cinema’s than any other company in the UK.
We use FM transmitters so people listen to the film soundtrack via car radio. They are always well attended with classics like Grease or Back to the Future. You don’t have to rely on the weather which is a big issue in the UK as you can not really predict this.
However, all events have great things about them. The main thing for us is the feedback from the client, that is where we got the buzz from. Knowing every client is very happy and gives positive feedback concerning the AV set-up, the screen and the customer service provided.
Do you feel as a pioneer in the renaissance of the drive-in in the UK?
In the UK there are a couple of companies doing something similar but on a less quality level. I think we definitely set a standard when it comes to drive-in cinema. Mainly using our large 40ft AIRSCREEN for this type of event, although on the odd occasion e.g. smaller venues we use our 24ft. Again it is the wow-factor and the fact the system allows us to go to locations like shopping centers, football stadiums, etc. where others can not access. Everything we need fits into the back of a van including projection and the screen. In general it impresses our clients when they see the screen deflated sitting in the van, which, 40 min later, turns into a huge cinema screen.
What are the main advantages you see in AIRSCREEN?
The mobility side to it is the main advantage for us, as we have indoor installations in shopping centers, grass locations outdoors as well as concrete surfaces for drive-in and open-air cinemas. Basically, the screens are so versatile we can go anywhere. And in the end this makes us stand out from the rest of the people doing similar jobs.
Moreover, the quality of course, as we know how reliable the product is that we are using. And finally they are aesthetically pleasing in every environment we work in.
What does it mean to you to be part of the AIRSCREEN family?
I always wanted to be an AIRSCREEN partner and part of the family. And Urban Entertainment always wanted to offer supreme services so that was something that merges quite easy. When AIRSCREEN invited me to come over in the pre-sale phase I decided to fly over and as we saw the actual AIRSCREEN inflated, I instantly knew that this is definitely something we wanted to be involved with. It was quite an easy decision in the end. Back home and a few mails and conversations later we purchased two AIRSCREENs.
However, the contact did not stop then as we had Simon, who flew over and helped with the first installation. And again since then we have quite constant contact, weekly you could say, if it is an inquiry from the UK forwarded to us by AIRSCREEN or just general inquiries from our side concerning technical know-how or anything.
How would you sum up the after-sale service?
From day one when we first bought the screen to where we are now, owning a number of screens, we always experienced the best support. With other products or companies you purchase something and that’s it. We know if we would need anything it’s just a phone call away.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
We are pretty pleased with what we have achieved so far, having different screen sizes and supplying the UK market whether it is pop-up cinema or live broadcasts, but we are evolving every year, expanding our portfolio from the AIRSCREENs to our AV offer. We have some pretty interesting and exciting things lined up, watch this space.
What makes your company unique?
Everything at Urban Entertainment is about the best product, if it is high definition projectors, sound systems or the actual focal point, the screen.