'Evaluation' is one of those buzz kill words. It sounds pedantic, redundant, time consuming, difficult, dangerous. As filmmakers and storytellers, many of us have a deep-rooted suspicion that if applied to our creative work, it just might kill it - or at least miss the point.
When you consider the sheer amount of energy, passion and time that has to go into making the film, devising and executing a brilliant distribution strategy, let alone delivering the campaign… It’s easy to see why some of us might have a mental barrier with the concept of evaluating something as complex and multifaceted as impact.
But whether we like it or not, the business of evaluation, of metrics and measurement has arrived in documentary film. This is provoking anxiety not only about our individual practice but raising implications for the whole field.
Do we have the resources or the competency to evaluate? What if funders start to demand the wrong kind of evaluation? Will evaluation in the end stifle creativity, ultimately determining and limiting which kind of films get made?
We need to keep our nerve. Because it’s only bad evaluation that analyses creativity to death. It’s only bad evaluation that tries to break everything down into numbers. And it’s only bad evaluation that sucks up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.For some funders and partners, a rich longitudinal narrative containing anecdotal evidence may be enough. This is great but we’d also love to share some other techniques borrowed from many disciplines – including newsrooms, marketing, advertising, the arts, social science - which can give a much more profound insight into the power of your film and provide evidence you are reaching your impact goals.