AFTER travelling around the world the equivalent of eight times, Britain's only full-time self-contained mobile cinema is to be given a £120,000 refit.
The Screen Machine is operated by Regional Screen Scotland and brings a cinema experience to remote communities across north and west Scotland.
The refit will add a minimum of six more years to its operational life.
The service was originally started in 1998 and the current vehicle has been in use since 2005. It has travelled over 203,000 miles. It also logged up 1000 miles on ferries last year alone.
During the cinema's 18 years more than 350,000 tickets have been sold to audiences.
It is in operation for up to 48 weeks a year and visits communities such as Bettyhill in Sutherland and others in the Western and Northern Isles.
The refit, which will include the replacement of worn parts and a repaint of the exterior, will be carried out by the Screen Machine's original builders, French-based Toutenkamion.
Regional Screen Scotland has secured funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland's Open Project Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland, to meet the costs.
Robert Livingston, director of Regional Screen Scotland, said: "The aim is to carry out the refit at Toutenkamion's French workshop in April/May 2017, and relaunch the fully renewed Screen Machine in June.
"It will then resume its normal touring circuit and audiences will be able to enjoy the customary wide choice of new films, as well as extras such as photography exhibitions and archive screenings, knowing that the Screen Machine will be fit to continue full operation well into the next decade."
The Screen Machine is an articulated tractor and trailer, which uses hydraulic systems to expand the trailer to be able to accommodate an audience of 80 in multiplex-style comfort.
These type of hydraulic systems are subject to considerable wear and tear, as the cinema is set up and dismantled three or four times every week.
The Screen Machine travels regularly on ferries, and is often set up on sites fully exposed to salt and sea air.
Without the refit, the machine would become subject to an increasing number of breakdowns, and would be unlikely to be able to continue full operation for more than another year or two at best.
Jennifer Armitage, screen officer at Creative Scotland, said: "This timely refurbishment will extend the Screen Machine service so that cinemagoers in some of the most remote parts of Scotland continue to enjoy a high quality cinema experience as well as an ever expanding programme of film."
Regional Screen Scotland will also be drawing on its own reserves to replace the Screen Machine's digital projector. Like many 'first generation' digital projectors, this is nearing the end of its useful life. It's been a credit to the robustness of the projector that it has withstood eight years of being driven around some of the most winding and bumpy roads in Scotland! But the new projector will also provide audiences with an even sharper and clearer viewing experience.
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