Introduction: Mini Movie Theater

About: Clay and Jewelry Artist; All-around Creator

So I wanted to make something for the Tiny Speed Challenge and this is what I came up with: a mini movie theater using your phone. People watch stuff on their phones a lot, so I thought that this would make it more interesting and fun. While you are watching videos on your phone, a tiny little audience is also watching it in this mini movie theater that you made for them.


A phone.

The size of your phone dictates what size your movie theater will be. I have included dimensions for my phone, which measures about 5 2/8 inches by 2 1/2 inches, but phones come in a huge variety of sizes, so you will need to take your own measurements.

Cardboard (the main structure of our theater - high winds in the area might wreck the little peoples' good time)




Hot glue gun and hot glue (what good is a hot glue gun without glue, you ask?)

Black paint (acrylic, tempera, whatever, but not water color!)

Paint brushes in a variety of sizes (you will want both a bigger artist's brush and a tiny one)

Material for the "carpet" of the theater (whatever color you desire, but red is traditional)

Black material for the curtains in front of the screen

Clay and clay tools (mainly a pointy stylus tool and a knife, you could use a toothpick instead of the stylus)

Mod Podge or other PVA glue (like Elmer's)

Pen or awl to punch holes in cardboard (you could also use round nosed pliers)

16 gauge aluminum wire (mine is gold)

26 gauge black rubber coated wire (or black twist ties)

Acrylic paints in various colors (you will probably want red, black, reddish-orange, darker red, and brown. Those colors are for the seats, so you will need the colors of your preference for painting the little people)

Tacky glue

Electrical tape in black (or black duct tape)

Red thread

Step 1: The Theater Base and Phone Holder

My phone measures about 5 2/8 inches by 2 1/2 inches. I placed it on a piece of cardboard and decided what I thought was a reasonable size for the theater past the actual screen of the phone. From a piece of cardboard I cut out a square/rectangle that measured 9 3/4 inches by 7 1/4 inches. This will be the base.

Next I took a second piece of cardboard. This piece I cut to be 14 inches by 5 1/2 inches. Measuring from the end of the cardboard, I scored the cardboard at 1 5/8 inches (going along the side that was 5 1/2 inches tall). (P.S: to score the cardboard means to take scissors or a knife and run along the cardboard to only cut partly through, not all the way. It makes it easier to bend.) My next score was at 3 3/4 inches from the first score mark. Then I went from the the second score mark and made another score at about 4 inches from that one. The diagram illustrates how wide the pieces should be. The drawing illustrates the shape we are going for once the cardboard is bent.

At the first score mark, bend the cardboard upward. At the next score mark, bend it down. At the last mark bend it flat. The photo is probably a better way to explain what I did. Once the middle piece is pinched shut, it should look like the last picture.

Step 2: The Phone Holder Part 2

On the backside of the upright fold (the longer side), I placed the phone. Now you can see that the upright part is bracing for the phone to stand up against. I drew a line along the bottom of the phone to mark it.

To keep the phone in place, I made a cardboard sleeve. The area of the phone that contains the 'home' and 'back' buttons is the area that will go behind the sleeve, so I drew a line from where the actual screen portion of the phone meets the button portion. The phone was still against the brace, so this line extends from that. Taking my scissors I cut from the end of the cardboard all the way to the first mark I made of where the phone will be standing (I wrote 'phone goes here' to remind myself not to cut there).

Now I can bend that little strip up and over the phone. It should be snug enough to hold the phone in position, but not tight enough that you can't get the phone out. I used tape to hold it in place to check and make sure that it was the way I wanted it.

The last two photos show what you should have now. The bracing for the phone and the strap to hold the phone in place.

Step 3: Base Meets Brace

Now is time to whip out the hot glue gun and put this stuff together.

With the phone inside, I placed the brace where I wanted it to be on the base of the theater. I left a little bit of an overhang. I took the phone out and hot glued the brace down. Then I went and hot glued the sleeve for the phone so it would stay put.

Step 4: The Silver Screen

My next section of cardboard will cover the phone and have a cutout for the screen.

Honestly, I just grabbed a random piece of cardboard that was longer than the base of the theater and tall enough to cover the phone and the brace. Then I measured the interiorscreen of the phone, that is the portion that shows the image. Mine is 3 7/8 inches by 2 3/16ths. In the middle of my new piece of cardboard I measured out that size and cut it out, leaving the teeny 1/8 of an inch at the bottom to cover the bottom of the phone. Then I slid the phone back in its sleeve and positioned the cutout in front of it. After making sure it was lined up, I hot glued it down. I trimmed it to match the base of the the theater (the white cardboard).

Now we have the beginning of our theater.

Step 5: Paint It Black

Now we will paint the back portion of our theater, or the back wall, black. I didn't paint the inside where the phone will go because I figured my phone probably would not be happy about that.

Step 6: A Swiftly Tilting Floor

At first I was just going to have a flat floor, but then I realized "What, duh, movie theaters have sloped floors so that people can see past the row ahead of them."

I measured a new piece of cardboard to be the sloped floor of the theater. This cardboard piece I measured was 9 3/4 inches by 7 1/4 inches, or about an inch or so longer than the portion of the base that extends from the screen wall. Lining it up along the base, I scored a line even with the end of the base (white cardboard). This line I bent down. Now when placed on top of the original base it makes a sloped floor. I hot glued this down at both the bottom and the top of the floor where it met the base.

I stuffed this portion with newspaper. This was to make it sturdier. Don't put too much newspaper or it will try to pop back open while you are trying to glue it down.

Carpet is the next step. My carpet is actually a piece of white material that I painted red, but you could use whatever you want. I wanted a texture that seemed similar to a carpet that was in an old movie theater I used to go to, and the white was the only material that seemed close enough.

Your material needs to be big enough to cover the sloped floor and overlap a bit on the sides. Hot glue it down! Watch your fingers, too.

Step 7: Good Walls Make....good Walls.

I cut two pieces of cardboard for the walls, measuring 1 3/4 inches by 8 1/2 inches each. I just decided how tall I wanted them to be based on holding up pieces to see what it looked like. If you are going to be using this as I intended, you might be watching the video on your phone with someone else, and they aren't gonna want to try to look past a set of high walls to see the phone. I painted both these pieces black on the inside and the outside. I hot glued them to the sides, making sure they were even with the base of the theater.

To clean up the front, I measured a piece of cardboard that was 1 1/4 inches tall by 7 1/2 inches long. I painted it black as well and hot glued it to the front. Each time I hot glued a wall piece on I made sure the trap the excess material under it so it was smooth.

Step 8: Movie Theater Seats

Now is time for one of my favorite mediums: clay. I use cold porcelain clay (an air dry clay), but you can use whatever you want.

First I drew myself a pattern for the body of the chair, that is the back rest and the seat portion. I experimented with a few that I made out of paper to decide what size I wanted. I went with a size a little bit bigger than my pointer finger nail. I didn't upload a pattern because I wasn't sure how to make sure it came out the right size, but it is pretty easy to draw. It looks like a tablet or a bread roll. If you get desperate, you can just trace the outline of mine from the pictures.

Taking my clay, I rolled it out thinly. I used two regular sized pieces of cardboard on either side of my roller to make sure that my clay came out the same thickness every time. I have seen a lot of polymer clay artists use playing cards for this, but I haven't tried that yet.

(Oh, and it didn't exactly help me anyway; I had chairs of varying thickness anyway.)

Once my clay was rolled out, I laid my paper pattern on the clay and traced it. I made sure the mark the line in the middle because that is where the bend for the seat will be. It is time to decide how many chairs you want in your theater. I went for 7 chairs in a row with five rows, or 35 chairs. After that it was just a matter of tracing and cutting out little tablet-like pieces with a clay knife.

Once the pieces were cut out, I either bent them halfway (chairs that are open, or someone is sitting in) or I bent them all the way (chairs that are close, or not being sat in). You may have encountered this old kind of chairs before; they flip up unless something (you) is preventing that. Now is the time to decide how many people you want to make because that determines how many of your chairs will be open vs closed. I decided to have 18 people in my theater, so I made 18 open chairs.

To make the legs of my chairs I rolled out a thin piece of clay and took an open chair and laid it above the piece of clay. That gave my how wide the leg needed to be. I made myself another pattern piece from paper to determine how tall I wanted the legs to be, and then I proceeded like I did for the chairs, cutting out multiple chair legs over and over. The legs are simple: just little bitty squares.

As I cut them out, I took my Mod Podge and glued them onto the sides of the chairs. I also began gluing the chairs into rows. This is where you have to decide what type of people are in your theater. For example, if you wanted to make a couple then you need to glue two open chairs side by side. I found it was easiest to glue one chair with both legs, then glue the outside leg onto another chair and then glue it to the chair that had two legs. Make sure to count how many chairs you are putting in a row before you glue too many!

Step 9: Up Goes the Curtain

While the chairs were drying, I made the curtain. I took my 16 gauge aluminum wire. I added extra length to my measurement for fastening purposes, and I came out with about 8 inches, or around what the screen wall was in length. I drew a line above the screen cutout to mark where I wanted the curtain rod to be at 4 3/16 inches. Measuring from the middle of the screen, I punched two holes 3 inches from the middle on either end. These were to pass the wire through. I used a regular ball point pen to punch the holes.

Fetching the black material I measured out a piece that was 5 inches tall by 8 inches wide. My rod was only 4 3/16 inches above the floor, but I needed the extra 13/16 inches to fold over the rod to fasten the curtain. I cut the piece in half to have two curtains 5 inches tall by 4 inches wide. Taking the aluminum wire, I laid it on one of the curtains at the top. Leaving a little less than an inch of material above the wire, I put a hot glue strip under the wire making sure not to get glue on the wire. Carefully I fold the material above the wire to meet the glue. This made a pocket for my rod so that the curtains could be pulled back and forth. I did the same to the other side.

I am gonna say that sewing these probably would have made them better, but I didn't realize that the hot glue might buckle some when the curtain was pulled back.

I put the curtains on the rod then went back to the theater. Holding the rod up against the screen wall, I bent the wire at 90 degrees right above where the hole was on either side. I poked the wire through to the back. Making sure to leave a gap between the wall and the curtain rod, I bent the wire so that it would stay. Now the curtain was hanging.

To make the curtains stay away from the screen when pulled back, I took the 26 gauge wire with the black rubber coating and cut two pieces about 2 inches long (you could use a black twist tie if you don't have wire). I bent them in half, then I hot glued them down on either side and above of the screen. To make sure you have the placement right, pull back the curtains and hold it back as if it was tied back. If your fingers are where the tie should be there won't be any curtain fold in front of the screen.

Now the curtains can be pulled back and "tied" so that the screen is visible.

Step 10: We're Painting the Chairs Red....

Now to pull out our handy dandy....acrylic paint!

The paints I am using are made by Apple Barrel. They are cheap and come in a decent variety of colors. The ones I am using specifically are gloss black, Real Red, Classic Caramel, and Barn Red. I am also using a FolkArt Metallic in Pure Gold and a DecoArt paint in Georgia Clay.

Basically you need black, red, a brown, a darker red, a gold, and an reddish orange. And a tiny paintbrush (like a size zero).

The seats of the chairs are red.The undersides/backs of the chairs are reddish orange. The reddish orange part is the metal part on this type of chair. I painted the legs in a dark red and the arm rests in brown so they would be "wooden" arm rests. On the ends of the rows I put a little bit of gold to be the plaque that shows what row it is. Then I took a tiny tiny paintbrush and put letters on the plaques so I had rows A-E.

Painting tiny things can be frustrating, but I find it is easiest if I get a little paint of my brush and then run the brush over my hand or fingernail to get of any excess. Then I have just a little bit on the point that isn't going to slop everywhere. I also find it easiest to work in the assembly line way, meaning that I paint everything that is supposed to be that color at the same time. So I painted all the seat cushions, then the "metal", then the legs, then the armrests, and then the plaques.

Step 11: People, People

Next up I made the tiny people. I am not going to show you how to sculpt all the little people that I sculpted, but I will try to show how I sculpted the lady in the first row. Rolling out a tiny bit of clay in my hands, I ended up with a long snake-like shape. I made it thinner in the middle by concentrating my rolling there, and that was the waist of the tiny person. To make sure it is the right size, I sat it in one of the fully dried chairs.

You will note that I already made this lady's husband.

Since I was pleased with the size, I added arms by rolling out itty bitty snakes and attaching them with my PVA glue (Mod Podge). To gauge her leg length, I sat the clay bit in the chair and then held up another snake of clay alongside it so I could judge how long they should be. I attached the legs with the glue, then I made a round circle/oval shape for the head and glued it on.

For her hair I rolled out a very thin piece of clay and cut it into a veil shape. Using the Mod Podge I glued it to her head, then I sat her next to her husband.

By sculpting the little people and sitting them in their chairs, I made sure that they would actually sit there. I didn't glue them down yet because painting them would be easier if I was not worried about messing up their chairs.

Step 12: FOOD!

Now for some minute refreshments.

For popcorn bowls, I rolled out the beginning of a snake, making sure it wasn't too thin. Then I cut it off so I had a tiny little pill-looking shape.

For cups of cola it just gets worse - oh, I mean, smaller.

Since I am using an air dry clay, I waited a bit for the popcorn bowls to harden, then I poked a hole in the top. I took some more clay and put it in the hole, then I poked it randomly with the stylus tool until I decided it looks sorta like popcorn. I apologize for the photos that are practically useless.

For candy boxes I rolled out a thin piece of clay and cut out tiny rectangles.

For straws for the cups, I took my red thread and coated it in glue. Thar made it harden and made me able to glue it in an upright position on a cup so it was a little red straw.

Sorry, patrons, we only sell large.

Step 13: This Movie Has People Glued to Their Seats!

So I won't go into detail about painting the people because that is your preference what you want them to look like. I will just say use a tiny brush, some patience, and some acrylic paints.

Once the people are dry, I took tacky glue and glued them to their chairs. Now I didn't have to keep having them fall out of their seats.

For the foodies, I painted the popcorn buckets and the cups red. I didn't paint the top of the cups because that is the lid. I dabbed some yellow onto the popcorn because good movie theater popcorn is always super artificially yellow with all that fake butter they use. I grabbed my gluey string (dry now) and cut tiny little bits to be bitty straws. Taking my Mod Podge, I glued them standing straight up. The candy boxes I just painted bright colors.

Once the people were stuck to their seats, I doled out the food to whomever I saw fit. Glue made sure that their neighbor couldn't steal their concession stand yummies.

Spilled sodas are pretty typical in movie theaters, so I made a spill by adding brown paint to some tacky glue and spreading it on the floor of the theater. I placed a soda in the glue spill so it would stay put and show that it was leaking coke.

Step 14: Lights, Camera, Action!

Taking the electrical tape, I cut out pieces to be the aisles in front of the screen and on the sides of the theater. I measured this simply by holding the tape above where I wanted that to go, saying, "That looks good", and then cutting it. Even though electrical tape is sticky, I put tacky glue on the understand of it and glued it down.

I painted two little green squares near the theater curtains to be exit signs.

Now the show is ready to begin!

Load your video on your phone, slide it into the back pocket and under the sleeve to hold it in place. You should be able to still hit play on the touch screen. Now you have a home (mini) movie theater!

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