May 09

Social Impact – a new genre?

“We’re making the kind of films we wanted to make, but what do we call it?”

Earlier this year, I sat down with John, Harriet, and Chris to reflect on some recent accomplishments and exchange views on where we were headed as filmmakers.


The kind of films we were making felt rewarding and different from the slick montage films about products or impressive endeavours some of us had produced earlier in our careers. This new type of film demonstrated the real change that organisations made in the world. They provoked thoughts and conversation and put real issues affecting people ahead of pushing products or services. It was the kind of filmmaking that demonstrated the real change that organisations made in the world.


“I suppose you’d describe them as social impact films?”

In that moment our way of working crystallized. Social impact filmmaking is a genre I feel is growing and will become used a lot more over the coming years, as companies wish to position themselves as a socially aware providing work and outcomes of real meaning.


So why are we early adopters of this, and why are we so aligned to driving this genre of filmmaking forward?


I think there are a few reasons for this.


  1. We are storytellers. Obviously, any film maker tells stories for a living. That’s what the job is, and so, quite rightly, that’s what they tell you. However, we come from backgrounds of narrative storytelling. We didn’t start telling stories when we learnt or decided to become filmmakers. We have it in our history. I have spent my entire education and working life in the performing and creative arts. Performing, directing, writing, producing. I tell stories. Through plays, musicals, film, songs…


Telling a story isn’t just relaying the events and facts. It’s knowing how and where to add the drama, the jeopardy, the excitement. It’s knowing about pace and tone, light and dark. And it’s knowing how stories are created and pieced together, about where to put the punchline, and where to make the audience work. We are storytellers.


  1. In addition to my background as a storyteller, we are the only film production company I know of who employs actual time-served journalists. Harriet Jones has been working in journalism both in the UK and overseas for the past 20 years.


I started working with Harriet around 8 years ago and we very quickly found that we complement each other really well in terms of storytelling and film making. Where I struggle to see how an interview fits, she can weave a story out of the most mundane subject. When she struggles to be inspired by an edit which is lacking light and shade, I help show the potential when music, sound, and space is added to the narrative.


  1. Along with Chris and John, who have been writing and directing for many years, our pedigree as storytellers, is unmatched in this region. Crucially, we have the experience. We have made these social impact films for charities, large companies, council organisations, new start-up companies.


We recognise, this isn’t just a genre for people who can afford to not push themselves and see immediate ROI. It’s for everyone. In these times, it’s a marketing and promotional tool for a generation who want to shop around and invest, and be in partnership with organisations who are aware, friendly, thought leaders.


  1. We recognise that content may be king, but that quality underpins that.


It’s fine having lots and lots of content, and it keeps us high up in the social media algorithms. But when there are so many platforms on which to watch your media, people expect quality, and will watch things that interest them, and hold their attention.


John and I have always appraised new projects on a set of values we agreed on when we started Storyboard Media. One of those was “We make a difference”.  Social Impact filmmaking is exactly that for your company. It’s showing your clients; customers; partners; suppliers; employees, how you make a difference. Letting them know your ethics and values, and then letting them decide for themselves, that you’re the type of organisation they want to be working with.


To watch examples of social impact films we’ve made and hear more about it, join us 9th June at Social on Humber Street in Hull, for our Humber Business Event: The Rise of Social Impact Filmmaking.


Iain 🙂



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