How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector

How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector

How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector

How to project a movie outside without a projector? Cinemas will take some time to open due to the current pandemic situation and who does not like to party with friends and family? Especially when everyone has been locked up in their homes for such a long time. Many countries have started easing their lockdowns and if you belong to one of them then you will surely want to hang out with your friends and family. BBQ or movie night seems a good idea to get together and enjoy each other’s company.

With the abundance of friends, there is always someone who forgets to do their part. What if your friend forgets to bring his projector to a much-awaited movie night. Do not worry. We’re here to help you out. We’ll share some easy ways to project a movie outside without a projector. Yes, you read it right. A movie night in your backyard without a projector. Afterall party must go on.

How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector

Method 1: Using your phone

This method is the most widely used method by folks who don’t have a projector use. Using a few manageable and readily available home items, you will be able to make your outdoor screen and luxuriate in projecting the movie without actually buying a projector. This method creates the simplest movie projectors that you simply could imagine without actually purchasing a projector.

Items required

  • A magnifying glass; the most vital thing which acts as a lens.
  • A shoebox of adequate size.
  • Glue.
  • A crafting knife and scissors.
  • Black paper or cloth.
  • A blank white wall or a white cloth; which will act as your screen.
  • Tape
  • A smartphone or tablet; to project your image onto the screen.


Let us get started. The method is pretty simple and easy to execute.

The first thing you will need to do is remove the handle of the magnifying glass and separate the lens from the stem. You can also use an old camera lens instead of a magnifying glass. This will save you the time spent on removing the handle from the magnifying glass as well.

If you are using a magnifying glass, use the hacksaw to remove the handle with extreme caution and care. Your safety should be the top priority.

Once you are done with removing the handle select a sturdy shoebox. Apart from sturdiness make sure that your mobile phone fits into that shoebox. If your shoebox has flaps inside, the first step is to secure that.

Apply glue and wait for it to dry before moving on to the next step. Once the glue is dry you can move to the next step.

Moreover, if your box has any loose sides from where light can enter, seal those corners with glue.

The next step is to trace the outline of your lens on the inside of your shoebox with the shoebox lying flat.

Cut the outline with a knife to make a hole the exact size of your lens. Handle the utility knife carefully. “Again” safety comes first.

Carefully place your lens inside the hole and fix it into place with the tape. Make sure that the lens is properly reinforced and the tape isn’t loose. An even better way to strengthen your magnifying glass inside the shoebox is by using a hot glue gun instead.

Cover the inner part of your box with a black paper; this black paper is significant in making your image clearer.

Now make a stand for your device. This stand can be made from paper/metal clips that are twisted to form a holding stand. Another way to make a stand is by gluing together foaming sheets and cardboard. Choose which one suits you the best but make sure that the stand is well built.

Almost done. Choose the movie that you want to watch with your friends or family on the projector.

Place your phone inside the shoebox on the stand. Make sure that it is placed at the end which opposes the lens.

Turn on the brightness level of your device to maximum. This is because the lens inside the shoebox will darken your image a bit. If your phone screen is not bright enough, the image on the screen will be very dark.

Tape or stick a cloth over a wall. TA-DA!! your projector screen is ready.

Make sure that the lens part is facing the white cloth. Ensure that the wall is entirely blank; otherwise, your image will not be clean.

Play the movie and see if the image is good enough for the night. You might have to adjust your mobile phone to be either closer to the lens or farther from the lens until your image becomes clear and focused. After this, play the movie and enjoy it.


  1. Connect your phone to a Bluetooth device so that you would be able to pause and play the movie on command without having to take your phone out of the shoebox.
  2. Since the image is being magnified a great deal which distorts the image quality to some extent therefore it becomes blurry. However, the blurriness can be reduced by playing the movie on the highest quality setting available.

Method 2: Plywood projector

If you’re too embarrassed to invite people over and pull out a taped-up box as a projector then we have an alternate method for you as well.

Materials for your projector

  • 2′ x 4′ birch plywood
  • Magnifying glass from The Dollar Tree
  • Small handsaw
  • Jigsaw and power drill for cutting out the space for the magnifying glass
  • Miter saw for cutting your wood
  • Tape measure & pencil
  • Empire square for each straight lines


Start with a piece of 2′ x 4′ plywood. You’ll have to figure out your own measurements because it depends on the strength of the magnifying glass.

Decide how big you want it and then measure, draw lines, and cut. You can cut the handle off first before tracing so that it’s easier for you. It’s best to cut the plywood when it’s a solid piece of wood after you have drawn the lines for the size of the front on the plywood.

Once the hole is cut out, you can test that the magnifying glass fits in there. You might have to clean up the edges. Make sure that you don’t cut it too wide or else it won’t fit and light will escape.

After the glass has been sufficiently tested and fitted, then you can proceed to cut the rest of the front part of the movie projector using a miter saw.

Don’t forget that you’ll also need two sides, a bottom, a lid, and a back. However, before you cut the other pieces out, we recommend that you test to see how long you’ll need it. Try using a box just to see how long your movie projector box will need to be.

Take note of these measurements. Once you have taken the measurements and are satisfied with it you can cut the pieces.

Now glue and nail them together. To finish it you’ll need to paint and stain it. Enjoy.


  1. Have a couple of pieces of extra wood inside to hold your phone, and use some way to keep your phone standing upright and make sure you lock your screen rotation. If the box is thin, then you might be able to support your phone between the walls. However, if the box is wide, you can place your phone on a phone stand, you can lean your phone on an object or, you can create a stand from cardboard.

To do that you can get a wide enough cardboard to wedge inside the box. Stick your phone to the cardboard by using double-sided foam tape.

You can also build your own stand with cardboard.

You’ll need two pieces of cardboard. Glue the two pieces together, forming a floor and a wall.

You can secure the phone with tape on the cardboard wall. This is the best kind of stand because it’s easy to move the phone forward and backward in the box.


  • Flip the movie on your mobile phone upside down. This is because when the image will hit the magnifying glass, it will turn the picture right-side-up onto your white sheet, wall, or movie screen.
  • Once you’ve figured out how far away from your phone magnifying glass needs to be in order for it to be seen clearly, walk yourself and the projector back and forth until it focuses on the screen.
  • You will need a clear sound too. If you do not have a Bluetooth speaker, then how are you going to hear anything when the phone is inside the box? To deal with this problem make a tiny hole at the back of the box. Make it big enough for the speaker’s wires to fit in. This will allow you to connect the phone to the speakers and have a clear and loud sounding movie.
  • You can also use a bigger magnifying lens. A bigger lens will make brighter images. The focal length of the magnifying glass is also important. If you want the image to be bigger, then opt for a lens with a lower focal length.


Even though this method is easy to execute without an actual projector, the quality of your image is not the best. You won’t be able to get the colors to pop out or the images to stand out. However, with a few readily available household items, you can make your very own projector at home. The projector is not only cost-effective but is also transport friendly as well. They can be great as a project for the kids as well. Make one for yourself, invite a few friends over, pop some popcorn, and have a good time. Nevertheless, if you want the best outdoor movie night viewing experience, then buy a projector instead.

Have a suggestion in mind do let me that as well. I hope that after reading this blog post you would not have to look for anything elsewhere about how to project a movie outside without a projector. Have a good day, stay safe, stay blessed. ????

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