One company I work with is a digital brand film content outfit called Coast. They were commissioned by Prostate Cancer UK to deliver a film called Father's Day, and I wrote the script.
The film is about a bunch of gangsters arranging a meeting to plan a heist. It stars A-list British actors Ray Winstone, Charles Dance, John Simm, Neil Stuke, Cyril Nri and Tamzin Outhwaite. It's being Shown on ITV on Father's Day.
Hang on. What's that got to do with Prostate Cancer I hear you ask? I'll answer that later.
The internet is awash with charity films and they tend to be of a similar kind. Truthful, heartfelt stories from people with a disease or condition, with supporting contributions from their carers and family. They evoke a mixture of emotions; pity, admiration, sadness and hope - heartstring-pullers to raise awareness, carry messaging, find out more about symptoms and treatments, and ultimately, to get money from us.
Be honest. Do you want to watch them? The charge often laid against them is that they are worthy but dull. Talking heads. We watch but in reality we need to listen. The emotional impact of the story is told like radio - through words.
Charities are realising they have to try harder to get attention and for their messaging to flourish in the multi screen, digital space.
They need to keep up with changing technologies and changing attitudes to content. We expect film content to come to us through our social networks and through peer group recommendations.
It's simple. If the content is good and original and reflects my interests then I will share it.
So although a charity's mission doesn't change, their approach to achieving it needs to be constantly reassessed.
In addition, social media can provide a charity with "emotional connections", because it feels personalized. It's been sent to you.
Text and still images have been the mainstay of websites and to be fair they can be great for getting information across. But videos and the ability to see human reactions can really bring the scope of a charity's work to life.
Donations will be more forthcoming if people can identify with the human angle - if you can entertain and move your audience they will feel a deeper connection to the cause.
Great stories, well told, can help forge deeper, more emotional connections with supporters.
Video and social media are a very powerful combination, especially to a younger demographic that charities need to connect to.
Last year alone 350 million videos were shared on Twitter. A film on a website is 53 times more likely to be found by search engines than text.
Video is one of the most powerful tools a charity has in its box. But of course the important thing then is how to make your film stand out.
The mantra has to be get it seen, get it shared and get it talked about.
Prostate Cancer UK has already raised its game. Other charities will follow. They will begin to think like broadcasters: "How can we entertain and educate?"
The concept behind the film Father's Day is to appeal to men who are not listening to the traditional messaging. Men who like action films, football, ordinary Joe's.
So back to the plot. In 'Father's Day' you think you're watching a heist movie with some of your favorite actors in. Someone has been killed...the boys are being called back together to do a job...So it immediately grabs an entire audience who are used to that kind of narrative. That kind of look and feel. 'Father's Day' trailers make no mention of the charity, or Prostate cancer. Then as the story unwinds we realize that these tough guys are not actually arranging a meeting to plot a heist. They get together to talk about what they all have in common - prostate cancer. They're a support group. And it's at their meeting, the second half of the film, that we hear all the messaging that the charity wants to impart. It's a part of the drama, so we want to hear it.
This is smart content, strategically placed and planned. ITV loved the film and agreed to show it on their channels. It's value for them was an unusual blend of CSR and editorial. This stopped it being a film that just sat on the charity's website and few people saw. The actors have used their social networks to alert their fans of the films, they have appeared on ITV News and daytime slots to talk about it (the campaign message!). It's caused a huge reaction. The press have picked it up and the charity's message is getting out there.
So a drama about a heist now has everything to do with Prostate cancer.
See the film trailer at -
Share it. It's a great film for a great cause.