Deckchair Cinema is operated by the Darwin Film Society (DFS), a not-for-profit, community-based organisation that was established in 1964 to screen a broad range of films that were not otherwise available at other Darwin cinemas. The DFS has an active and growing membership base of more than 1,100 people.
The Darwin Film Society aims to enhance the diverse cultural experiences of our community by providing unique and alternative film experience to mainstream cinema in Darwin.
The DFS opened the Deckchair Cinema in 1994 and screens films from April until November each year, in the iconic outdoor setting. The Deckchair cinema is fully independent and this allows the Darwin Film Society to screen a diverse range of films. The film program screens a unique mix of Australian, family, foreign, popular and classic films – as many as 60% of the films are not screened anywhere else in Darwin. The DFS was instrumental in bringing Sydney’s Travelling Film Festival to Australia’s far north, and presented a wide range of classic films from around the world; as well as a high proportion of Australian films when they were rarely seen in mainstream cinemas.
As well as running the Deckchair Cinema, the Darwin Film Society helps community groups and other charitable organisations screen films for fundraising and organise special events at the Deckchair Cinema. The Darwin Film Society also supports local filmmakers where ever possible.
The Darwin Film Society also operates the Darwin International Film Festival, or DIFF (with support from Screen Territory, Screen Australia and FestivalsNT), and Flix in the Wet, an eclectic program of films screening on Sunday afternoons from late January to late March.
The majority of funding comes from ticket sales and film society memberships.
Who We Are
Jeff Coulter - Chair
I have been on the DFS Committee for 8 years with the last 3 as Chair. The vitality of the people that surround the operation and the beauty of the cinema and its location make it a real pleasure to volunteer our time to ensure a successful and viable Deckchair Cinema and its other events and festivals. Darwin International Film Festival, Northern Territory Travelling Film Festival and Spark are fantastic achievements of our staff and committee all involved to benefit the NT film Industry. Our over 1000 members is the backbone that underpins all our efforts and thank them very much. Long live us.
John Schier - Deputy Chair
I have been a member of the Darwin Film Society Management Committee since 2002, and Chair for 11 of those years. I was a co-founder of the Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF), chairing the Committee from 2010 to 2013 and will again do so this year. I am an active member of many community committees, have a background in tourism operations, and am currently an account manager specialising in freight handling and logistics.
Lee Upton - Secretary
Lex Silvester - Public Officer
Deckchair’s Public Officer and Committee Member is Lex Silvester, a now retired barrister and lawyer who practiced law in Darwin from 7 November 1970 until mid 2015. Somehow he survived Cyclone Tracey and all the others that followed. His vision and capacity for getting things done are legendary. He won Australian and International recognition for conceiving, designing, building and creating ‘Seven Spirit Bay’ wilderness lodge in Gurig National Park. To Deckchair Cinema, he brings his wealth of knowledge and experience.
I have been a Committee member of the Darwin Film Society since the mid-80s. I was Chair for over 15 years from several years before the first Deckchair Cinema began (at Mavie St in 1994) until after the opening of the current Cinema (at Jervois Road). I love the continuing community involvement in all aspects of the Cinema – from the programming to gardening and weeding and highly skilled areas as projection and architectural design. I believe the reason the Deckchair has continued to thrive is that it truly reflects the community from which it grew.
I became a Darwin Film Society (DFS) member almost immediately on my arrival in Darwin. The place, the films and strong community nature of Deckchair and DFS are unequaled. The working bees, special events and fundraiser evenings all provide great opportunities to be involved in more than just watching the great films. I joined the DFS Management Committee in 2011 and have enjoyed the opportunity to deal with a wide range of issues, be involved in the daily business of the Deckchair, meet the celebrities is fantastic but most importantly is the joy I get from assisting in special events, such as the Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF), never ceases to be rewarding.
I became a Committee member of the Darwin Film Society after being a regular Deckchair patron and DFS member since the mid-90s. The Deckchair and the films it presents have been an ongoing joy in my life throughout that whole time. As a committee member, I’m really pleased to be able to offer something in return. My main interests are in maintaining and improving the Deckchair experience for members. I think the Deckchair represents the best of what’s good about Darwin.
Central to the mission and strategic goals of the Darwin Film Society (who operate the Deckchair Cinema) is being a sustainable business both socially, financially and environmentally. Below are some examples of the action we have taken to meet sustainability objectives:
• No Bottled Water - with Australia’s annual consumption of bottled water creating the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 13,000 cars the Darwin Film Society decided to reduce our waste (and yours) by no longer selling any still bottled water from 2014 onwards. Instead patrons are invited to enjoy our Darwin fresh, filtered water for free from our kiosk
• Australian made, ethical and organic - in response to attempts to overrule the Territory’s Container Deposit Scheme in 2013, the DFS decided to stock organic, ethical and Australian made beverages where ever possible
• Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) – Deckchair Cinema uses co-mingled recycling bins provided by the Down Syndrome Association NT to collect containers that accrue the 10c refund. The money raised helps the Downs Syndrome Association with their operations.
• Biodegradable containers and utensils – our nightly food vendors, including the fundraising groups, are required to use biodegradable containers and utensils or those made from renewable sources rather than plastic containers
• Community Group Fundraisers – the DFS makes the Deckchair Cinema available for hire to local non-for-profit, community, sporting and school groups at cost, whereby all the proceeds from ticket sales goes directly to these community groups. Sunday nights are made exclusively available to these groups and they also provide the catering on those evenings. They take the profits from food sales and any other promotions they coordinate on the night.