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The five-word formula for successful charity films

22 Jun 2012 Voices

Niki May Young derives a formula from this week's featured film that could help you pin down the perfect charity production.

Niki May Young derives a formula from this week's featured film that could help you pin down the perfect charity production.

Watching a film for me is quite the emotional process. Absorbed in the sights and sounds it can lift me up or drop me down, it can send me into a coma of contemplation or, in the case of the best films, it can spur me to action.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer's 'One Day' film for me is bang on target, hitting all of the above. This film made me cry, it made me think, and it made me want to share its message.

There are five good reasons why it has achieved this and combined they represent a formula that can be easily replicated to create a powerful film, be it as a call to arms, a plea for funding, or a celebration of success.

One Day carries off simplicity in both its message and its production. It asks the no-frills questions 'which day is your day?' and 'what would be your "one day" wish?'

Shot on a blank canvas of white, with vox pops from survivors and those left behind by breast cancer, the stories of the individuals are allowed to shine, from the heart.

The message is powerful, it deals with life and death, but it manages to turn that power into positivity and hope by taking the viewer on a journey. The journey goes thus:

Enigmatic vox pops about what date the speakers would choose (drawing the viewer in) > Powerful stories of how cancer has affected the speakers (the hard-hitting reality) > A message of what the speaker would change so that 'one day' things are better, (ie message of motivation).

In five key words it's a Simple, Heartfelt, Powerful message of Hope and Positivity.

It's argued there are only seven stories in the literature world, but how many books have you read and loved? One Day is not by any means the first film to have employed this formula, but the fact that it made me cry in front of my peers and inspired me to share its message proves it's a lasting formula that can work time and again.



Every week civilsociety.co.uk features a new film as an example of best practice in film production by charities. If you have a film that you would like to share with the charity community send an email to kirsty.weakley@civilsociety.co.uk for the chance to be showcased as Friday's featured film.

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