Like many folks excited by the new studies on the effectiveness of social impact docs, I too got involved in nonfiction cinema because I want to make a difference in this world and I saw documentary film as the way to do it. However, to date there have been few comprehensive studies that demonstrate and measure exactly how a film can make a difference. Thanks to the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, we now have that data. Evaluations of the kind they took on are not cheap, which is why they are often not done! But they are crucial to moving the field forward and increasing investment into these change-making vehicles. I must note that the Fledgling Fund’s work in assessment definitely contributed to the success of these reports. I encourage you to read their paper “Assessing Creative Media’s Social Impact” here.
The below is from the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation website. You can see more by clicking here.
Why Study the Impact
of a Documentary?
In the last 10 years, documentaries are increasingly being recognised
as a key medium for communicating social justice issues and inspiring
social change. There have been high-profile examples, including Supersize Me, An Inconvenient Truth, Sicko, Jamie’s School Dinners, The Cove, The Age of Stupid – and many more such films are being made.
But there is widespread lack of understanding about how the social
impact of such media should be monitored and reported and a lack of
templates and tools to assist them. Many films rely on anecdotal
evidence or common sense to establish their impact and the lack of hard
evidence presented can lead to cynicism that films achieve anything
other than entertainment.
This detailed report into the impact of The End of the Line is
intended to contribute to the growing, and important field of work on
media impact assessment. We hope it can be a template for other film
projects giving best practice examples of gathering and presenting
quantitative and qualitative data.
For more information about this study please contact Beadie Finzi, Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation Director at firstname.lastname@example.org