Directions for Movie Captain


  • Plan and MC the event in the lecture hall.
  • Be in contact with the Telescope Coordinator before and during the event to coordinate planning.
  • Help to set up the projector and sound system for the film.
  • Make announcements to the audience about future events and astronomy news.
  • Introduce the film.
  • Give away swag.
  • Give a short presentation and lead a discussion on the fact and fiction involved in the film.
  • Close down the lecture hall at the end of the film and lecture/discussion.
  • Positively represent the University, the Department, and our profession.


Movie nights have the following schedule:

  • 5-10 minute introduction to the film by Movie Speaker
  • Film (for its total duration of x minutes)
  • ~20 minute lecture and additional x minutes discussion on the relevant science and fiction in the film.
  • Before the film concludes, telescopes will be setup on College Walk (or in front of Pupin) by Telescope Coordinator and Volunteers until closing (weather permitting).
  • Close things down around 10 or 10:30PM (depends on duration of film and enthusiasm of audience participants in film discussion).

The Week preceding the Film

  • Get a copy of the film from the Outreach Director. Watch the film in its entirety on the system where you will be screening the film. This assures that there are no problems with the DVD, the projector or the sound system. In addition, it gives you more familiarity with the film, and it will aid in preparation for your presentation on the film. This must be done 3 or more days prior to the film screening, so if there is a problem with the DVD, we can ship it back to the distributor and have them ship another to arrive in time for the screening.
  • Put together a short introduction to the film (5-10 minutes) for your audience. This doesn't have to be a formal presentation, but it can give your audience things to look out for or give them the the context in which the film was made.
  • Put together a slideshow (~20 minutes) for after the film, where you discuss some of the relevant science or fiction from the film. Could the film actually happen or are there significant pieces of science that are wrong in it? After this slideshow, you can blend right into a discussion on the topic with your audience.
  • Plan what swag you want to give away to the audience. If possible, try to tie the swag together with the theme of the film. Also, only give away one or two separate items (e.g. posters, cards, bookmarks, etc.), as audience members will typically take 1 of each thing we provide, which can deplete our stores pretty quickly.
  • Contact your Lecture Volunteer. Remind them that they are expected to be to the observatory 30 minutes before the film to setup the signs, bring down swag and help with the projector.
  • Contact the Telescope Coordinator for the event night. What targets is he/she going to look at? Exchange phone numbers so that you can text back and forth with him/her at the end of the film to obtain an update on the weather conditions.
  • Check to confirm that the computer/projector is working in Pupin 301.
  • Print out some outreach schedules and skymap fliers for public distribution.

Thirty Minutes before Lecture

  • Go to the astronomy library and get the Lecture Captain box from the swag area in the southern part. This box should contain the building signs, any past lecture schedules, etc.
  • You and your volunteers should put up the building signs directing people to the lecture hall (N.B. you don't need to put up the roof signs).
  • You and your volunteers should bring down the swag to the lecture hall.
  • You and your volunteers should bring down one of the Lab Laptops for running the slideshows. Do not forget the dongle and power cord!
  • You and your volunteers should put the outreach schedule and skymap fliers at the entry way to the lecture hall.
  • You and your volunteers should set up the DVD player with the film ready for the screening.
  • Write the webpage address on the blackboard.

Beginning of Lecture

  • The full audience usually doesn't arrive until about 5 minutes past, so start your announcements a few minutes past the hour.
  • Welcome the audience and make any other outreach announcements. Point out the fliers and website for outreach.
  • Announce the next lecture that will take place in two weeks, as well as any other imminent outreach (or astronomical events).
  • Comment on the feasibility of observing that night, if the weather conditions seem uncertain.
  • Give the audience the timeframe for the evening:
    • 5-10 minute introduction to the film (About 7PM)
    • Film (for its total duration of x minutes)
    • ~20 minute lecture and additional x minutes discussion on the relevant science and fiction in the film.
    • As soon as the film concludes, people are free to go see the telescopes setup on College Walk (or in front of Pupin) (N.B. NOT ON THE ROOF) for those wishing to leave immediately.
    • Close things down around 10PM (depends on duration of film).
  • Introduce the film with your prepared 5-10 minute introduction. Then start film.

Immediately After Film

  • Text message the Telescope Coordinator for a weather update.
  • Turn on the lights and repeat the time frame (as above). Let people know that there is going to be a short lecture and discussion on the relevant science in the film, but that the telescopes are set up in front of Pupin or on College Walk (if the weather permits). Give the weather update.
  • IMPORTANT: Count the number of attendees at some point (preferably during the film).
  • Begin the short lecture on the film. Follow it with discussion.

After the Lecture and Discussion

  • When you think the discussion has slowed down, or you are ready to close things down, announce that the event is ending.
  • Announce the next lecture.
  • Invite the children in the audience to come forward to get swag.
  • Thank people for coming.
  • You and your volunteers should shutdown the projection system, the microphone and erase the chalk boards.
  • You and your volunteers should pick up *all* the building signs and the fliers from near the entryway.
  • You and your volunteers should bring the lab laptop, the extra swag, and anything else that remains in the lecture hall back up to 13th floor. You *must* put this away where you found it. Do not leave it on your or someone else's desk, as it is easy to lose things this way.

The Day after the Event

  • Write up a brief explanation of what happened at the event (i.e. a paragraph or two) for the outreach website. For examples, see: past events. Send this description to the Outreach Director, who will post it.
  • Update the outreach wiki to include the event. Remove it from the list of scheduled events, and copy/paste it into the list of past events along with a list of volunteers and # of attendees.
  • Email Millie with information about who volunteered and who should be paid (only grads and undergrads). Do not include time that was spent watching the film as time that a volunteer worked. Generally, the Movie Captain and Volunteer will have worked about 1.5 to 2 hours, whereas the Telescope Coordinator and Volunteers will have worked about an hour depending on the situation. If the event ended prematurely or someone left early, then this will reflect on the pay of the volunteer.