Social impact entertainment — narrative and documentary film, television, theater, and emerging forms that engage audiences in solving real-world challenges — is not a fad but the future of the entertainment industry, a report from the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in partnership with Participant Media, argues.
The report, The State of Social Impact Entertainment (HTML or PDF, 188 pages), defines and maps the landscape of social impact entertainment; examines frameworks for evaluation; establishes best practices; and highlights key issues in the field. In addition to providing data, case studies from content creators and collaborators, and a comprehensive map of the space, the report outlines the business case for social impact entertainment. Advocates in film, television, and theater who share the impact of their work in the report include Dustin Lance Black, Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Eve Ensler, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Gus Van Sant.
According to the study, common themes in the emerging space include a process that moves from engagement to awareness raising to mobilization. Key considerations consistently cited by the report's contributors include a focus on story; knowing the issue; identifying and partnering with leading organizations and experts already working on the issue; creating a distribution plan that activates relevant shareholders, stakeholders, and communities of action; and evaluating, learning, and sharing. The report also notes the importance of embracing diversity on and off screen, and of meeting younger audiences' demand that companies pursue a triple bottom line that includes social, environmental, and financial metrics.
"[T]his report aims to serve as a guidebook for industry leaders and storytellers who want to engage others in solving challenges that are often too complex for any single hero to save the day," said Peter Bisanz, executive director of the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment. "For those hoping to make a difference in this world, the spotlight has never been brighter. Whether you're the head of a studio looking to develop a social impact team, a ﬁlmmaker trying to learn how to create a social impact campaign, or an educator doing high-level impact research, this report is designed to help you create work that makes a positive difference in the world."