Documentaries leading social change
Updated: Jan 31
In today’s climate of fake news and distrust amongst the public, people are looking for new, reliable sources to educate themselves on important issues. Good documentary films are not only in-depth and informative resources, they are compelling to watch.
Documentary makers have cottoned-on to the power of storytelling, mirroring the same ingredients of a blockbuster - great cinematography, character-led narratives and the use of suspense to create must-see films grabbing the attention of mainstream audiences. The ability to both educate and entertain simultaneously indicates serious potential to change behaviour amongst those who may have known little around the subject previously, or at least an important starting point.
The success of documentary films such as Seaspiracy and Kiss The Ground demonstrates that audiences have the appetite for in-depth content surrounding social and environmental issues. The scale of platforms such as Netflix has enabled these films to reach a huge audience and become powerful springboards for important conversations both within the corporate world and around the dinner table. Creating content that people will watch is one thing - creating content that people will talk about in-depth and share with others can have a significant impact, and this is exactly what charities set out to do. Charities should therefore be thinking seriously about how they can create longer format, authentic and engaging documentaries to spark meaningful action.
In summary, here is what your charity can achieve with a documentary
You can delve below the surface, exploring stories in detail without oversimplifying an issue, conveying complexities and grey areas to help the audience understand the wider picture and combat stigmas
You can build intimate connections with the storyteller focusing on real people, helping to put human faces on issues that audiences may otherwise struggle to relate to
You can reach large, mainstream audiences, spreading awareness of your cause and sparking conversations
You can start or contribute to meaningful social change
You can build trust and credibility through authentic storytelling
Cost - this may put off charities from embracing longer-format film, but the impact of recent documentaries should encourage more charities to take the plunge. There are many fundraising options available too, and partnerships where the costs can be shared and expertise pooled. Netflix have launched a documentary talent fund, and other organisations such as the International Documentary Association and Doc Society provide further opportunities and advice.
Scrutiny - people will pick apart whatever you put out there, and they should. They may find information which contradicts or undermines your story, but in the process they are learning and becoming more invested in the issue. Seaspiracy has been accused of misleading viewers, but it has still shone a bright light on a big problem and triggered an important debate.
Here at 2S films, we believe that great documentaries are brilliant tools for charities to educate and entice their audience, and essentially create large-scale awareness and impact. In 2021, we are working on some exciting documentary series which we can’t wait to share with you. Are you thinking about a documentary for your charity? If so, get in touch: