How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector

Showing movies outdoors or in your own backyard is great fun, but what happens when you don’t have a projector? Is it possible to project a movie outside without a projector?

Yes… and no.

One popular option that has emerged over the last five years or so is using a smartphone as a movie projector.

I personally don’t recommend it if you are planning on putting on a backyard movie, as not only will the image probably be too small, but the image quality is going to be poor as well.

But, if you really want to try it, then it does make for an interesting DIY project.

Just don’t expect to be able to watch movies particularly well outside with this method as you will need to magnify the image up significantly, which will complete degrade the quality of the picture. It’s going to be a waste of time and energy.

You can see some steps below, and I’ve also included some interesting videos which show people making their own homemade projectors.

Using a Smartphone as a Movie Projector

You will need the following items and tools. Most of these items can be purchased cheaply on Amazon, or if you are lucky you might already have them lying around the house.

  • Shoebox
  • Pencil
  • Craft Knife
  • Black Paper
  • Magnifying Glass (buy on Amazon)
  • Tape
  • Smartphone
  • Big and Small Binder Clips

And here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Trace the magnifying glass on the box
  2. Cut out the circle on the box
  3. Tape the magnifying glass to the box
  4. Cover the interior of the box with black paper
  5. Make a smartphone stand using binder clips
  6. Place your smartphone on the stand inside the box
  7. Move the phone back and forth to find the correct focus
  8. Project onto the wall

Watch this hack method on YouTube, if you still want to project a movie onto a wall without a projector.

The Alternative Solution

If you are serious about watching movies in your backyard, or outdoors then I would recommend an outdoor movie projector that is built for purpose.

They don’t cost the earth either.

I’ve put together a number of buying guides and recommendations for people wanting to watch outdoor movies on a budget. For example, here is a step-by-step instruction on how you can plan an outdoor movie night for less than $400.

That guide includes advice on everything you will need to purchase (or make) including the actual movie screen too.

If you just want a budget projector that will work well outdoors and don’t have to spend a lot of money, then the recommended gear section contains information and reviews on various products.

Some of the outdoor movie projectors in my gear section can be purchased for less than $100. For example, did you know that you can buy cheap mini-LED projectors that work outside?