Almost every filmmaker sets out to alter public perception or at least insight on an issue, but just how successful is a film on impacting viewers?
According to a recent study by University of Oregon professor Grant Jacobsen, quite successful, as he wrote in his soon-to-be-published paper in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. According to the study, “An Inconvenient Truth” appeared to have influenced a temporary breed of environmentalists. People who lived within ten miles of a movie theater showing the film were found to be 50 percent more likely to buy carbon offsets during the months after the film’s release than those living more than ten miles away from one.
To conduct the study, Jacobsen contacted the film’s distributor Paramount Vantage and obtained the 1,389 U.S. zip codes where the film was shown. Carbonfund provided him with a list of 12,902 carbon offsets that were purchased between March 2006 (two months before the release of “An Inconvenient Truth”) and May 2008, along with purchasers’ zip codes. Numbers started matching up in the timeline, and Jacobsen started finding trends.
According to AOL News, the film’s effect was only temporary. One year after its release, Jacobsen found no significant trends or differences in carbon offset purchases that could be attributed to people seeing the film.
To be fair, let’s put this in perspective. It’s not like “An Inconvenient Truth” was showing at the nearest Imax cinema. Gore’s documentary was an indie film house hit, and most independent movie theaters are in liberal-minded neighborhoods, already populated by people who are more likely to believe in global warming and buy carbon offsets, than say, conservative suburbanites or those who typically drive gas-guzzling SUVs. It’s basically preaching to the choir.
Photo courtesy of openDemocracy via Flickr