ECONOMIST FILM PROJECT LAUNCHES WEBSITE

by
in Filmmaking
on Jul 14, 2011

The Economist Film Project, which I wrote about previously in this interview with editorial director Gideon Lichfeld, has just launched its website. At the site, viewers can watch the short documentary excerpts that appear via the project on the PBS News Hour. For example, embedded below is the debut offering, Dawn Sinclair Shapiro’s The Edge of Joy, about maternal healthcare in Nigeria. Also up on the site now are excerpts from Robin Hessman’s My Perestroika, N.C. Heikin’s Kimjongilia, and Adam Wakeling’s Up in Smoke.

The website follows a Variety article on The Economist Film Project, which states that it’s now a prime publicity item for any documentary film. From the piece by Marc Graser:

More than 930 submissions have been received to date, with 1,000 expected by the end of the summer. Without much promotion, the project’s site has attracted 160,000 unique visitors. It’s not surprising why. The Economist boasts a readership of around 1.5 million worldwide, while “NewsHour” has an audience of 1.1 million TV viewers each night. The program is seen or heard by more than 5 million on TV or on the radio weekly. Online, it attracts 1.4 million more unique monthly viewers, who stream video. More than 1.9 million watch the show’s video segments on YouTube each month.Online, the Economist has also turned to the film segments to help grow its iPad and iPhone app usage.

While in most cases the full films aren’t screened — one exception is “My Perestroika,” which will air in full June 28 on PBS’ “POV” — even a mention of the docs through the Economist or PBS could significantly increase viewership of the pics. Filmmakers retain the right to distrib the pics anywhere else. So far, “NewsHour” is the primary way the films are distributed, but the Economist is considering eventually packaging the pics on DVD or promoting them through other platforms.