Risk communication films: Process, product and potential for improving preparedness and behaviour change

Anna Hicks, Maria Teresa Armijos, Jenni Barclay, Jonathan Stone, Richard Robertson, Gloria Patricia Cortés

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


The medium of film is well established for education and communication about hazardous phenomena as it provides engaging ways to directly view hazards and their impacts. Empirical analysis can help to understand films' effectiveness in informing populations at risk and catalysing action to reduce risk.

Using volcanic eruptions as a focus, an evidence-based methodology was devised to create, use, and track the outcomes of digital film tools designed to raise hazard and risk awareness, and develop preparedness efforts. Experiences from two contrasting eruptions were documented, with the secondary purpose of fostering social and cultural memories of eruptions, developed in response to demand from at-risk communities during field-based research. The films were created as a partnership with local volcano monitoring scientists and at-risk populations who, consequently, became the leading focus of the films, thus offering a substantial contrast to other types of hazard communication.

The films were analysed by sharing them with at-risk communities and evaluating the immediate influence on learning and affect. Results indicated that the use of local content and actors to share experiences and teach valuable lessons were inspirational. Recognizable faces and spaces helped to convey disaster risk reduction messages. They also motivated audiences to consider ownership of risk and potential actions to reduce risk and strengthen resilience.

This study demonstrated the effectiveness of co-production in the design and execution of intervention strategies for volcanic risk reduction. Co-production of films with local agencies resulted in products that were contextually appropriate, meaningful for audiences, and useful risk communication tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-151
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date30 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Film
  • Risk communication
  • Preparedness
  • Risk reduction
  • Behaviour change
  • Empowerment

Cite this