Throughout the pandemic, many people missed the feeling of sitting in a theater to enjoy the release of the newest movie. The ability to eat fresh popcorn and be surrounded by strangers who were just as invested in the movie as you was completely gone. However, Sha’Tyra and Chasadee Hawkins of Chambana Backyard Movies have been able to bring back this simple joy for many people.

In my chat with Sha’Tyra, she detailed their genius plan of creating a backyard home movie experience for families who could not enter the theater during COVID. Filled with comfortable couches, a real popcorn machine, and tons of lights and beautiful decorations, the duo was able to bring the theater experience to countless homes in Champaign-Urbana. If anything, their project seems even more comforting than a theater, due to its personal nature and precise attention to detail. Packages range from $149-299, depending on how much is included.

The movies are open to all ages and all events. They are simply trying to bring joy to the community.


Smile Politely: Hi! Can you introduce yourself and describe your organization to readers who don't know?

Sha’Tyra Hawkins: My name is Sha’Tyra Hawkins, my sister Chasadee Hawkins and I are owners and operators of Chambana Backyard Movies. We are an equipment rental company that creates a movie theater experience in your backyard.

SP: Where did you get the idea to start doing this activity?

Hawkins: This idea came from the birthday party of Abella, Chasadee’s daughter, on June 3rd. It was a COVID-friendly idea and turned out great.

SP: How do you organize your movie streaming times and areas?

Hawkins: We have a booking app that we use to keep up with the dates and times of parties. Dates are secured with a $50 deposit that goes towards the customers total. We decided to expand with the idea and make a Facebook page and do a test set up and take pictures!

SP: Can you describe the process of movie setup? It seems complex!

Hawkins: We need an outlet and WiFi or hotspot from you, and we do all the work. When set up is done and it’s close to being dark outside, we show you how to work the popcorn machines and leave until it’s time to come pack up. Our equipment rental time is 3 hours. When your movie or party is finished, just let us know and we will come pack up.

SP: How can readers find out where to attend one of your movie streams?

Hawkins: We have email, phone 217-600-0568, or a Facebook account ‘Chambana Backyard Movies.’

SP: How do you build your beautifully decorated movie sets for streams with all the cozy blankets and couches?

Hawkins: We love detail! We are here for all of the little things. There are companies like ours and we see that a lot of them are run by men. So we love to put a ‘woman’s touch’ to the set up. That is what makes every party unique. Every yard is different and every set up has something new that represents the movie theme.

SP: What are other services you provide besides movie watching? Birthday parties? Dinners?

Hawkins: We love providing the set up and letting the customers choose what type of event they are hosting. We hope for more Monday night football games and U of I games to be watched on the big screen.

SP: Are your services open to all ages?

Hawkins: Yes we are family friendly! All ages and all events could use the big screen! From slide shows, to kid parties, to video releases.

Check out the Chambana Backyard Movies Facebook page for details on how you can reserve a movie time.