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Guest Post: Peter Broderick “Special Report: How Films Can Change The World”

Guest Post: Peter Broderick "Special Report: How Films Can Change The World"

One of my top motivations to make movies was to change the world. It still is true today. Often when I tell people that I want to make movies that either change the world, change cinema, or finance those revolutions, they often think I am joking. But I am quite sincere. To sort of quote the legendary producer Walter Wanger “Film is the world’s ambassador.”

I was not surprisingly thrilled to get Peter Broderick’s latest newsletter, and to find it not just on this subject, but with real info precisely on films that HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD. Peter has kindly agreed to allow me to share it here with you, provided you all NOW sign up for Peter’s Distribution Bulletin, here.


Three new studies assessing the impacts of An Inconvenient Truth, The End of The Line, and Waiting For “Superman” finally prove Sam Goldwyn wrong. The Hollywood mogul famously declared, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.” These reports highlight the real world results these films sparked and provide a new framework for evaluating the impacts of documentaries and features.

In the past, there was little research or rigorous analysis of powerful films such as Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, Super Size Me, and Food, Inc. Instead they were evaluated primarily on anecdotal information and subjective impressions. The appearance of these three new studies finally provides the research and analysis filmmakers need to better understand how to ignite social change.

An Inconvenient Truth, The End of The Line, and Waiting For “Superman” were each made to avert a looming crisis: global warming, the collapse of the world’s fisheries, and the failure of America’s public education system.

This Special Report includes exclusive coverage of the studies of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting For “Superman,” along with a concise analysis of The End of The Line report.

THE END OF THE LINE – A Social Impact Evaluation

This exemplary report documents the significant changes The End of The Line produced, highlights the importance of brand partnerships, and provides useful lessons concerning social media and coordination with partners.

The film was described by The Economist as “the Inconvenient Truth about the impact of overfishing on the world’s oceans.” Produced in the UK by the invaluable Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and financed by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, this beautifully designed report is the product of an 18-month study, which used qualitative and quantitative analysis, focus groups, and media analysis. It concludes that the film had a major impact on public awareness of overfishing–directly on viewers and indirectly on nonviewers through the huge amount of press it generated. The report estimates that the PR value of this media coverage was £4,186,710, more than four times the budget of the film.

The study also concludes that the film helped create “a tipping point in corporate policy” that spurred a number of corporations to switch to sustainable sources of fish. The upscale grocery chain Waitrose sponsored the film’s release and promoted it in their stores, giving customers postcards about film and the importance of buying sustainable fish. The classy Prêt A Manger chain of sandwich shops totally changed its fish buying policy after its founder saw the film.

When I interviewed the visionary Jess Search (CEO of BRITDOC and co-creator of the report with her colleague Beadie Finzi) about the report, she shared her belief that businesses are “engines of change.” Top-down change (requiring legislation and/or elections) and bottom-up change (requiring widespread grassroots involvement) are very difficult to achieve, but if you can persuade corporate decision-makers that the change you are seeking is in their interest, hundreds of thousands of consumers can be affected.

The study features a brilliant graphic that illustrates the complementary and interlocking partnerships filmmakers need to build with foundations and philanthropists, NGOs and advocates, policymakers, the media and brands. The report shows how much difference a film can make – expanding public awareness of an urgent issue, changing consumer behavior, altering corporate policy, and providing advocates with an effective tool.

To read the rest of Peter Broderick’s Special Report visit here.

© 2011 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

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