Magazine article Screen International

Grab Your Partners

Magazine article Screen International

Grab Your Partners

Article excerpt

A groundbreaking report points to the social impact of a documentary film, spurred by a willingness to work with 15 different partners.

In a week of Oscar glamour, it's nice to be reminded that film can have an impact on people's daily lives in a way not measured by trophies or weekend box-office.

There is a fascinating new report about the social impact of Rupert Murray's documentary The End Of The Line, about the affects of over-fishing on the world's oceans.

The Britdoc Foundation (which also backed the film) has done the first report of its kind, tracking the impact of the film among UK adults.

We've all heard anecdotes of people who haven't stepped into a McDonald's since they saw Super Size Me, but this report gives us hard evidence of the way a film can impact a social issue.

The film had a UK theatrical release (via Dogwoof) in 2009 followed by airings on More4 and Channel 4, a DVD release and also a DVD giveaway in the Sunday Times newspaper.

Before watching the film, 26% of people said that they didn't think overfishing was a big problem; after viewing, 85% said it was quite a big problem or one of the greatest problems facing us.

The press value of coverage of over-fishing had a PR value of £4m. For every person who had watched the film, another 510 people had heard about it. There was widespread press attention about the issue, and moments of luck like Stephen Fry tweeted how much he liked the documentary.

This report offers two reasons for celebration: 1) a film inspiring real social awareness in our overcrowded media-saturated world; and 2) the strength-in-numbers philosophy that can help a film grow via partners.

I'm struck by the number of parties that were involved in getting the word out - it wasn't just the overworked filmmakers and distributors flogging another independent documentary; they also had the might of at least 15 other partners - from Greenpeace to Waitrose to Surfers Against Sewage - on board. …

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