Special Needs Viewing

Special family.jpg“Recently I went to the movies with my husband and we saw The Fault in our Stars. A must see if you ask me. This was one of the only movies we’ve ever seen that was 1- without our children and 2- not a special needs viewing.

When we went to look at the menu to see what we wanted we noticed we couldn’t see the menu. I looked around the theater and saw phones being used as lights. We never really had to do this before. Just one of the things I take for granted when seeing a special needs viewing. Next, the movie started, oh my ears!! The volume was so incredibly high I thought. Actually, it was the typical volume of a movie. I had been pampered at the Studio Movie Grill special needs viewings. The volume is perfect in those screenings.

If you haven’t been to a special needs viewing perhaps it is because you do not have a special needs child. I hope that if you have a special needs child you will go check out these unique screenings. The lights are lowered but not completely and the volume is not crazy loud. Children are encouraged to get up and move around if they need to and no one complains if a child makes noises or laughs. There is something really nice about not having to keep your child quiet so others are not offended.

During one of the special needs viewings I have heard feeding pumps, oxygen, suction machines, children making noises or stimming and all I thought was, these people get it. Unless you are a parent of a child labeled special needs you can not understand what it feels like to be somewhere and have your child be their self but by that I mean disrupt others who don’t understand.

Another perk to the special need viewing is the cost. Children with special needs and their siblings get in for free and adult pay a discounted rate. Without this program my family would not be able to see a movie. My husband and I have 8 children. Half of our children have special needs. Every week my children spend most of the day with a babysitter or at the hospital with me. The kids that don’t have appointments stay with the sitter and the ones who do have the appointments and therapies go with me. This is the one time we get to be together as a family and not worry about anything. It is one “normal” thing we get to do and for that I am so grateful. I can not adequately express how much it this program means to me.

Thank you so much Studio Movie Grill for creating non medical memories my family will always cherish.”

Be blessed

Ashlee Beck


Opening Our Doors to a New Community!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role as Director of Public Relations and Outreach for Studio Movie Grill is being present for the birth of each new SMG location as we open our doors to meet a new community, and see first-hand and appreciate the impact we can bring.

Each theater we open impacts the local economy, not just directly through employees hired to join our team, but also through the business we bring to local contractors and technicians that either build our theaters from the ground up or remodel/upgrade existing locations.  Our presence allows us to benefit and drive traffic to surrounding areas and developments by offering entertainment services that attract additional consumers and thus income to the businesses around us.

Just over a week ago, we opened our doors at SMG Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, hiring over 125 new employees from the local community, about whom the local paper reported, “Staff…is astounding-attentive, prompt, not just courteous, but downright warm….In the halls and lounge area you can’t walk 10 feet without being smiled at or asked if you’re doing OK by an employee.” Reading that, I can’t help but be proud of our new NC staff who have already fully embraced one of our most important pillars – being of service to guests.

SMG Epicentre opened in Charlotte, NC on February 26, 2013.

SMG Epicentre opened in Charlotte, NC on February 26, 2013.

Connecting with and becoming good citizens of each new community is so important to SMG as a company, that we have internally mandated that Outreach be a large part of our Marketing and PR efforts, and a reflection of that is the “Cans Film Festival” we hold for the opening of every new location, where we offer free admission to a movie in exchange for the donation of canned goods for a local food bank.

SMG Epicentre’s grand opening brought our most successful food drive to date with more than 1020 pounds of food donated to Second Harvest of Metrolina.  That’s enough to feed more than 685 individuals or 170 families of four.  What an amazing statement about the people of Charlotte and the way they care for this community!

In addition to the Cans Film Festival, Charlotte residents got to literally follow the yellow brick road to a special grand opening advance screening of Oz, The Great and Powerful following a film cutting ceremony performed by the Mayor of Charlotte.  (Film cutting is another SMG tradition and our spin on a regular ribbon cutting ceremony.)

Mayor Foxx cuts the film with SMG's CEO, Brian Schultz to mark the Grand Opening of SMG Epicentre.

Mayor Foxx cuts the film with SMG’s CEO, Brian Schultz to mark the Grand Opening of SMG Epicentre.

But this is only the beginning of our efforts to embrace our new community in Charlotte, NC.  Saturday, March 15, we will host a Charlotte Checkers Foundation fundraising effort as part of Old Time Hockey Weekend with a screening of SLAPSHOT with special guests, hockey sensations, the Hanson Brothers.

We feel good when local press says, ”Studio Movie Grill fills an enormous void uptown, is trying to set itself apart….and is eager to please its customer.”

Stay tuned for more doors opening at an SMG near you!

How do we use SMG for good – employing Conscious Capitalism….

As Director of Outreach, it has long been my philosophy that by helping others, and specifically the community you serve, you will build a solid and ethical business foundation.  I can think of no better way of marketing any business or organization than by reaching out.  It is a constant joy to work at Studio Movie Grill (SMG) where our owner and founder has embraced Conscious Capitalism and actually named community involvement and giving back as one of the pillars of our company.

John Mackey of Whole Foods has just published a book about Conscious Capitalism, citing that “capitalism works best with ethical underpinnings.”  However, he goes on to say, “If everybody is always calculating what’s to their advantage, and no one comes with generosity or kindness or compassion or forgiveness – higher virtues – your society starts to break down.”

I agree with him that business has the capacity to integrate an ethical foundation on which capitalism can thrive and humanity as a whole can benefit. What a great goal to work towards.

At SMG, we began with baby steps seven years ago, not only by continuing to donate to the community and offering fundraisers as we had always done, but by initiating our Special Needs Screenings, serving families raising children with special needs.  These came about as the result of recognizing a specific need of a staff member.   An SMG general manager was raising two children with autism and had never attended a movie with his family.  It was a light bulb moment and a natural progression to offer families that opportunity and have screenings of first run movies at SMG where families could attend together without the fear of disturbing other patrons, where children could sing and dance in the aisles, and feel comfortable with other supportive families.  Lights would be up a little, sound down a little, and, better yet, we were able to offer these screenings free to children with special needs and their siblings, and work with local non-profits serving those families.  The SMG team wholeheartedly embraced the ability to help others by offering our core business for good.  Our special needs programs served almost 7750 children and over 6000 of their adult family members in 2012.  As we grow, our program grows.

This lead to further thought on ways we could help, or offer something of value to our major stakeholders – our valued customers.  With the support of our owner/founder, I was able to create free alternate programs that embraced the idea of offering something of significant value to our patrons including:  SMG Educates offering educational films and documentaries with Q&A’s – HBO’s recent WEIGHT OF THE NATION was a valuable discussion on obesity and changes that could be made; SMG Speaker Series where we invited Crimestoppers Executive Director to show a film and talk to her constituents about tough subjects like human trafficking and identity theft and, one of my favorites, SMG Reel Docs working with a local medical group or hospital to show pertinent movies about important medical issues that impact our local communities.  We learned that we didn’t have to show documentaries, that there were major movies that dealt with pertinent health problems  (THE NOTEBOOK (Altzheimers),  FLIGHT (Alcoholism) and these movies gave us the opportunity to entertain but talk about issues of importance to our constituents with medical professionals hosting.   All these programs are offered free.

Another great use of our facilities is hosting fundraisers, special screenings for impacted groups – as the new years begins, we have screened THE BIG PICTURE: RETHINKING DYSLEXIA for parents of children with dyslexia, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN for young leaders,  will show MISS REPRESENTATION for the Womens’ Foundation Gender in Media Forum, and the premiere of  CHASING BEAUTY to discuss with the filmmaker the ugly side of being pretty.

Thus, with the support of our SMG Team, I am proud to say we have been able to use our core business for good….from simple donations to large events.  We have instilled in our company a pillar that allows for each theater to present a challenge to its team to “Change the world, one movie at a time” and come up with ways they can reach out into their specific communities, alongside the home office, where we support Children’s Medical Center and annually run, ride, walk & bike their Red Balloon fundraiser aside from our personal volunteerism.

This year, amongst other things, we plan to launch SMG Chefs for Children, a program that will offer monthly specials created by our chefs and 5% of proceeds will go to supporting our special needs non-profits.

Our owner and I strongly believe that we all need to become more conscious and seek a higher sense of purpose – as Mr. McKay so rightly says, “….one that seeks to create value for employees, suppliers, investors and customers alike”, and that, by employing this philosophy, we will ultimately create value for all SMG stakeholders.