Loxwood Drive-In Movies set for 2021 return

The good news is that it went so well there’s every chance it’s going to happen again.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 6:30 am
Maurice Bacon by Joe Denyer
Maurice Bacon by Joe Denyer

Loxwood Drive-In Movies played to around 8,000 people over a busy and highly-successful July run.

Organiser Maurice Bacon is keen to do it all again next year. He is hoping to schedule a drive-in movie week as part of his annual Loxwood events which include the Loxwood Joust.

“The whole thing went very well, and it was such a great experience,” he says. “The feedback from people has been amazing. They really, really loved it, and I think we got it pretty much right. We had to go into it all very quickly. We didn’t have a long time to prepare.”

In fact, just five weeks from getting permission to go ahead. Along the way, they also had to get the relevant licence from Ofcom to turn themselves effectively into a radio station – ie to provide the movie soundtrack to people via their in-car radios.

“The problem with that was that at Ofcom they were all pretty much on furlough. We wrote to them to say ‘Can we have a licence please?’ and the weeks were ticking by, but it was all fine in the end, and they were great.”

Key to the success of it all was pinpointing where the potential problems might lie: “Going into it we knew that the two issues that other people were having were parking and having people queuing in the road – and also the food delivery.

“When you have got 150 cars there, you know at some point you are going to get 40 or 50 people ordering together.”

Hence Maurice had eight people working in the kitchen on site and five people delivering food to the cars. It worked.

“We would very much like to do it again next year, maybe a week as part of the events that we have at Loxwood Meadow. We are looking at doing this annually. We enjoyed it so much, and we know that if we enjoy it, that enjoyment goes out to other people. We have learnt only to employ happy, smiley people with a good disposition, people who like other people.

“I work with my son Danny, and he was in charge of the car park. I spent the whole 17 days in the tent directing the food operation. We knew these were the two things that other people were falling down on, people complaining about queuing and about waiting ages for food. I knew that we had to focus on that, and I like to think we got it right.”

Maurice’s point is that it was all about the experience, and that experience had to be good. It wasn’t about the films, which many people had seen before: “It was about the enjoyment and the atmosphere and the experience and people seeing that it was smiley and efficient.

“It was all about people going there to have a good time. It was about people being polite and nice to you and helpful and about nothing being too much trouble. That’s the spirit that I was trying to put across.

“And I feel relieved that it went so well. You just don’t know. We try to do the best we can, but you never know what can happen, and we went into it really having no experience of movies at all. We had never done a movie of any description at all.”

But now they can move ahead with confidence: “We are having a meeting with the screen company. That’s the big cost, the big issue. We managed to get really good deals as most of the people would have been using them for music festivals that weren’t happening this year.”