Gathr-ing your resources!

So you’ve signed up to host a Gathr screening event… now what?!

When you step back and take a look at the hosting process as a whole, it can seem a bit intimidating. But in reality, it’s really quite simple. Here’s what one host, Sander, said:

“Hi! I am in Portland, Oregon. My wife and I sponsored “Walk with Me,” the story about Thich Nhat Hanh. We wanted to see the film and hoped for 40 or so people. We ended up with 178, which was the most watched film in the Regal Cinemas that night! About half the audience stayed for a short discussion afterwards. We got so many thanks from people. The theatre was surely filled with good vibrations that night!”

Sander, like thousands of other hosts across the country, are part of a growing community of people who are using screening events to a) see movies they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see, b) start a conversation about an important topic, or c) raise funds for a specific local organization. And the ways in which Movie Captains™ customize and sell out their screening events is beyond inspiring!

But many of you might be wondering, where did they begin? HOW did they begin?

Don’t fret, friends. We’re here to share their secrets with you.

There are numerous resources for you to use to help increase your reach, but three that I find to be the most effective:

Sponsorship, Fundraising, and Q & A’s.

Establishing a relationship with a local sponsor, which could be a business or a non-profit, can not only help you sell more tickets, but also provide an opportunity for extra funding as well.

Attaching your screening event to a charity of your choosing gives your attendees the opportunity to not only donate but also make a real investment in the screening event. It helps them feel like they’re part of this campaign.  

Lastly, Q & A’s are one of the BEST ways to turn your screening into an EVENT. Find someone who the audience might like to hear from – the director of the local non-profit you are fundraising for, someone with a personal story to share, maybe even one of the filmmakers!

But that’s just skimming the surface. Let me delve in deeper to the Gathr pro-tips about how to buttress your screenings and ultimately, create a meaningful and impactful event for your community.


The key to finding a sponsor for your screening event is knowing who is going to have a stake in the film. What is the message of your film? Who comes to mind within that market? From corporate companies to local nonprofits, think of anyone who could mutually benefit from sponsoring you, and plan a call to action.

For example, if you are hosting Mantra: Sounds into Silence there is a good chance that local yoga studios, meditation circles, and even holistic healers are going to have communities and agendas that align with the message of the film. Same goes for films about women’s empowerment, suicide prevention, and animal care!

Here are the simple steps for finding a sponsor:

  1. Do your market research
  2. Make a list of 5 to 10 organizations and businesses
  3. Draft an outreach email (you can use the same one and tailor it a bit for each one)
  4. Hit send!

If you don’t feel that an email is appropriate, you may want to call or even show up in person!

In a very clever instance, one of our most successful Movie Captains™ for the film Embrace, a film about body image, partnered with a salon for cross-promotion and held a Happy Hour for a local charity where the proceeds went to an abused women’s shelter. That is the perfect example of a win-win situation for a good cause; and because all parties involved are in the business of supporting women, there was already an inclination to want to work together.

Here are the finer details when asking for sponsorship:

  1. Develop a budget for your event.
    Think about all potential expenses and how many tickets you’ll need to sell.
  2. Think about who your target audience is.
  3. Reach out diversely.
    If you send a letter, make it specific to that particular business and then follow up by phone or some other personal contact. Use phone calls, in-person visits, mail, and email interchangeably according to the circumstances. Just one contact method will not work. Use an integrated approach, and be systematic and persistent.
  4. Work your inner circle first, outer circle second.
    Start with people you know as well as nearby geographic locations you can physically reach. Then reach out to mid-size to larger businesses in your area: Call those businesses and ask who handles their marketing, their charitable contributions, or their sponsorships, and how you should contact them.
  5. Cultivate a relationship with your sponsor to ensure future partnerships.
    Stay engaged with your sponsors by sending thank you notes and invitations to future events!

“…Since the screening I have made a vigorous effort to maintain and expand the network I built over the few months up to the screening date. I created a Facebook group affiliate of the Houston Mental Health Support Network Meetup group and invited everyone who attended the screening and who joined the Meetup group in the ensuing months to join the Facebook group. I have also hosted a couple of free mental health workshops facilitated by NAMI and Mental Health America of Greater Houston, and have developed strong working relationships with them.”

Q & A

Hosting a Q&A after your screening event is a classy touch and an intimate way to connect with your audience. It provides an opportunity for a more personable discussion about the film and how it resonates with your community.

One of the most memorable Q & A moments in Gathr history was when a Movie Captain™ invited Kevin Hines, protagonist of Suicide: The Ripple Effect, to speak after the screening of the film itself. He was able to intimately interact with the audience and spread his core message of suicide prevention. People left in tears from the overwhelming love and support they felt from Kevin and their fellow audience members.

As before mentioned, you’ll undoubtedly want a guest speaker whose field is in alignment with the subject of your chosen film. Most commonly, we’ve found that guest speakers who have been invited in the past were happy to be a part of the project and volunteer their time. However, if you’re striving for a more exclusive guest (film team member, renowned professional…), it is critical to be as concise as possible in your letter, and/or have a valuable form of compensation prepared.

Provided are examples of what your request letters should include:

  1. Start with a story.
    It could be your story, or the story of someone whose life you changed. This will get your proposal to stand out and make an emotional connection.
  2. Describe what you do.
    This is your mission statement.
  3. Benefits.
    What’s in it for them? Ideally you want to have concrete deliverables (tangible or emotional) in exchange for their time.
  4. Describe your demographics.

So now you have your dynamite letter and you’re ready to send ’em out! I’m going to call back to my previous advice and remind you to make a list of everyone you can think of who would be interested in you event. Start with local professionals, but don’t be afraid to dream big! You never know who’s willing to participate, so why not aim high!

Sending out your invites should be a 4-step process:

  1. Send out a “first batch.”
    This first round of invites should go to your top choices of speakers – not any speakers you’re on the fence about.
  2. Wait for replies.
    Give yourself a designated amount of time for replies. If you need to follow up with anyone, send them a gentle nudge that you’d love to hear from them.
  3. Assess next steps.
    Once you’ve received responses from your first batch of potential speakers, look at your list and replace speakers who have declined with second choices to invite.
  4. Send another batch and repeat!

We’ve included a sample template to help get you started:

Dear [ address them by their formal title, e.g.,.Doctor, Hon. Mr, Mrs, Ms, etc.]

I hope this message finds you well. I am honored to invite you to be the guest speaker at [event name] Our event is to be held on [date] at the [venue] in [location]. We know that you are a terrific speaker and our attendees and delegates will gain much from your talk on[subject/theme/charity group].

[eventname] is an event being hosted by [names with titles/affiliations]. We expect our audience to be in the region of [ number]. Our goal is to bring people from the local community together to give them inspiration about what our non-profit organization is hoping to achieve with our program for [state the charity objectives – include the type of people being assisted]. We want to provoke discussion about the program and raise awareness, which we hope will also raise funds and donations.

We believe your “voice” will be beneficial to everyone in our organization and to like-minded individuals who attend the event.

Please let me know by [date] whether you would be interested in speaking. Attached is the itinerary of the event and some background information on the charity we represent and our sponsors for this endeavor.

Thank you for taking the time to read our invitation, and I very much look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely [name]


Not only is it extremely rewarding to have 100% of donations made go to a charity of your choosing, but attaching a fundraiser to your screening event could actually help sell more tickets! Nonprofits and charities have access to an untapped market of optimal attendees, and unless you’re an active member of one, they have no way of knowing you or your screening exist.

You can also conveniently make your screening event a fundraiser at any time, not just when you sign up!

  1. Go to your ‘Dashboard’ by logging into
  2. Click on your ‘Movie Captain Toolkit’
  3. Click the special request form that say ‘Fundraiser Request.’
  4. Fill out form with the information required

Yes. It’s that easy.

We here at Gathr want to encourage everyone to help grow their screening night into screening event simply by making the most of all resources around oneself. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to know that your tireless efforts were not only worthwhile, but ultimately a valuable contribution to your community.

“…You too can have a successful screening, but it takes a great deal of hard work, dedication, and an earnest commitment to furthering the momentum built up even after the screening is over. Basically, consider the screening a beginning, not an end. And you’ll do well.”

-Marcel Wormsly Suicide: The Ripple Effect Captain


Movie Captain Spotlight Issue #1

“I host screening events to build community.” Kim Balstad, Austin TX


First it was Dying To Know, a film exploring the edges of human consciousness, thatcaught Kim’s attention years ago. When I called Kim on the phone a few months ago to hear about her hosting experiences of not one, not two, but three Gathr screening events I was expecting success stories and fruitful outreach efforts. I was not expecting a continued and sustained partnership between her personal and professional goals and our platform here at Gathr Films. Not to mention a seed that is growing into a new membership program that provides rewards and incentives for repeat Movie Captains™ like Kim.

Kim Balstad is the founder of The Aum Nation, a fast-growing online community of holistic businesses and practitioners, offering services and products that address wellness, personal growth and healing. Kim grew up in an Air Force Family and from a young age was exposed to countries and cultures around the globe. In her own words, “These travels planted the seed that has germinated into a lifelong journey of learning and spiritual growth.”


I was thrilled and moved to hear that throughout the years, Kim has looked to Gathr to find inspiration for her dreams of building community and nurturing her own spiritual growth. After her first screening of Dying to Know, Kim went on to host screenings of PGS Intuition and most recently, Mantra: Sounds Into Silence. For her fourth but not final screening, we have partnered with Kim more formally to sponsor her second annual Aum Nation Expo taking place this October 27th in Austin, Texas. As we discussed opening the Expo with one of our new films she immediately gravitated towards one in particular: The Doctor from India.
THE DOCTOR FROM INDIA is a meditative and immersive portrait of the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad, the holistic health pioneer who first brought the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda from India to the west in the late 1970s. Directed by Jeremy Frindel (One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das) with an elegant musical score by Rachel Grimes, and featuring Deepak Chopra, the film takes us on one man’s journey as he quietly seeks to revolutionize the way we care for our bodies and our spirits.

This film was an immediate fit for Kim’s community and we’re excited to announce the October 25th screening of The Doctor From India at Arbor Cinemas in Austin, Texas.

You have the opportunity to bring this film to your community as well. Click here to explore the theaters in your area.

“Hosting screenings through Gathr has been amazing and I have found it a wonderful way to bring like-minded individuals in our community together.  I love that through Gathr I can help to bring positive, meaningful films to my area in order to help uplift others! Hosting screenings is also a really valuable tool to help increase visibility for your organization, club, business, etc.  I love being a Gathr Movie Captain!”

-Kim Balstad, Austin


Director Spotlight Issue #1

3100-Collage-27x40In 2014, Indian-American Director Sanjay Rawal released his film Food Chains to wide critical acclaim, the New York Times calling it “Rousing…emphatic and empathetic.” There are countless documentaries out there that deconstruct everything from fast-food gastronomy to mammoth corporations that are hijacking the food chain. And yes, we need those docs to enlighten us. But there’s a missing piece to this fascination we have with food production and the politics behind it. That missing piece, as Sanjay brought to light in this film, is the people. Food Chains takes interest in the hands that pick the food we eat, the farmworkers who make up the core of the fresh food industry and yet are supremely robbed of liveable wages and routinely abused. The film was an expose that the U.S. News and Report called “tremendously important and powerful.”


Nearly 3 years later, Sanjay has released another film that looks at a different subject matter entirely – running. But saying the film is about “running” alone is a great disservice. 3100: RUN AND BECOME explores the deep personal commitments that we make to ourselves, to improve, to expand, to grow. Taking the audience on a journey from the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa to the temples of Mount Hiei Japan, Sanjay shows us what it means to view running as not just an act or exercise but as a spiritual practice.

Before Sanjay turned to film, he was a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley studying Molecular and Cell Biology on a fast-track to a career in medicine. But like so many of us, Sanjay questioned the path he was on and the direction his like was taking. He followed his own questions back to the east coast to become a student under a prominent Indian spiritual teacher by the name of Sri Chinmoy. “What followed,” as one article puts it, “is life committed to spiritual expansion. And a calling to improve the collective human condition.”


3100: Run and Become is born directly out of Sanjay’s commitment to not only his own spiritual growth but everyone’s. In the film, the spotlight is on an elite race that takes place every year in Queens, New York. It claims the title for the longest certified footrace in the world. Founded in 1977 by Sri Chinmoy, the same man who helped guide Sanjay towards his new life purpose, the Self-Transcendence 3100 has always been about more than running – the heart of the race is transcendence.

Gathr Films is excited to partner with Sanjay to bring 3100: RUN AND BECOME to theaters through Theatrical on Demand®, bringing the opportunity to every runner out there to host a screening of this film in your hometown. We encourage you to visit the film’s website to find screening events taking place in you area. If there aren’t any, we invite you to host your own screening event! Join us on this journey!

Spotlight: Generation Found Captain, Joe Engle



Generation Found, the follow-up to The Anonymous People, is a documentary with a clear call to action: unite your community to start a #YouthRecoveryRevolution. After watching an opioid epidemic started to unfold in his community, Joe Engle took action by starting a movement in Las Vegas. We took a few minutes to interview him and hear about how his efforts and Generation Found Screening ignited the Vegas #YouthRecoveryRevolution.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your story.

My name is Joe Engle and am a person in long term-recovery- I haven’t had a drink or a drug since 05/27/1994. I was a single father for over 13 years, raising my four sons Reese, Dylan, Shane, and Adam.

On 07/21/11- my life was forever changed when I found my oldest son, Reese, dead from a heroin overdose. He was 19 years old. He had struggled with addiction since he was 15 or so, and was actually sober for 7 months before he passed away. My son, Dylan, continued to use heroin after his brother’s death. I had found a new level of hopelessness and helplessness. After a while, I decided I wanted to help those that couldn’t help themselves.

I sat in my kitchen with three other parents whose lives had been affected from heroin. We were all in agreement, we wanted to take action, but what would the help look like? It manifested itself into a movement called “There is No Hero in Heroin (TINHIH).” We set out to plug ourselves in the recovery community with a mission of raising awareness to the heroin epidemic. We sat at Farmers Markets, held community garage sales, started fundraising golf tournaments, and created an organically grown email list of supporters. Our combined efforts with local city government and other coalitions propelled TINHIH to the forefront of the recovery community in Las Vegas while staying true to our mission of helping one addict at a time by providing scholarships to local recovery homes for those in need.

When did you first hear about Generation Found? 

I watched the Anonymous People on its first streaming release, 04/01/14 I think? I remember I changed my profile pic to the “Recovery is HERE 04.01.14,” and I’ve been a fan of Greg Williams ever since. I believe the first time I saw the trailer for Generation Found was around 08/15, and I instantly knew I wanted TINHIH to be a part of it. I played the trailer at my group’s meeting and everyone was like: “Wow! What can we do to help!?”

My wife and I attended the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in October of 2015, I made an appointment with our local school district (with the help of a city official), and proposed the idea to “rebrand” an existing alternative school. TINHIH became an action partner with Facing Addiction and I listened in on every monthly partner phone call with Michael King. On one particular call, Facing Addiction laid out their action plan. I explained what we were working on with our school district. After that call, Kristen Harper-ARS E.D. called me, and I set up a meet & greet between ARS and local stakeholders. That started the ball rolling, and with a local CCSD associate, Jeff Horn, superintendent on board with the mission, we were off!

How did your community react to your screening event? 

Jeff and I attended the ARS conference in June of 2016, and I signed up to be a movie captain with Gathr and decided on a 09/14/16 screening: what would have been my son’s 25th birthday. I had hoped our school district would be able to announce during the screening. However, the wheels turn a little slowly at that level- especially when you are dealing with the 5th largest school district in the nation. The screening was a hit; we sold out twice and had to get upgraded to the largest theatre available! Momentum was on our side: with city officials, district stakeholders, and a body of committed people- we have parlayed this initiative to potentially get on the school board agenda for 05/25/17. The (recovery high) school renovation and staffing budgets are unofficially pending approval, but we are hopeful the official word will come out after the trustee meeting later this month!

(These are) exciting times for sure- our recovery high school will hold up to 100 students, but plan to open in August ’17 with 30-40 students.

Anything else you would like to add?

TINHIH will open an Alternative Peer Group onsite at the RHS, with operating hours of 3-7pm M-F, and 9am-3pm on weekends. TINHIH has secured a grant through Americorp for staffing, and they will also act as the volunteer coordinators. Seems that everyone that has anything to do with recovery services in Las Vegas wants to donate their time or services, so that is the main focus right now: to coordinate healthy activities, parent involvement, and recovery communities to serve our youth. We’ve even had a high-level meeting with Caesar’s Foundation for additional funding, and a work program for our students.

In closing, I would like to thank Greg Williams, Facing Addiction, and Gathr for kicking off the #YouthRecoveryRevolution

  Want to start your own #YouthRecoveryRevolution? Generation Found is still available for Theatrical OnDemand requests. The first step to inciting change in your community is to get them together all in one place: Get Informed- Gathr a screening today.