Report finds Fire Stories: Living with Risk to have high audience impact

The documentary film Fire Stories: Living with Risk was released in August 2018 by the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute. In the film, residents described their experience of the catastrophic 2013 bushfires in the Blue Mountains and reflected on the impact of the fires and the process of recovery.

Before and after screenings of the film, members of the audience where asked to complete a survey so the impact of the film on viewers could be explored.

The findings of this survey have just been released and its key points are as follows:

  • Within two weeks of viewing the film, 95% of respondents reported thinking about and speaking about the film with others, with many citing the conversation had included the need for bushfire preparation, awareness of risk, and the high quality of the film.

  • Respondents generally applauded the quality of the film and the courage of the participants. They acknowledged the depiction of real people, real experiences and real stories.

  • The film evoked strong emotions, with many respondents using the words - shocking, emotional, vivid and moving to describe it.

  • Most respondents rated the film very highly as a tool to promote bushfire awareness.

Some comments from viewers of Fire Stories: Living with Risk are:

“Very well produced. I had a fair amount of trepidation in seeing the film as I thought/ knew it would stir up vivid feelings and memories, and naturally it did. I shed a few quiet tears initially - but was super grateful that it quickly moved from some traumatic images to then focusing on people's lived experiences and shared stories of recovery, and community. Very impressed by this sensitivity shown. Even had a couple of laughs later on”.

“You have brought out some really important themes that need to be communicated to people, particularly those who have recently moved to the mountains. These include the need to do basic preventative maintenance, that there are only a limited number of volunteers/ vehicles and that every house can't be saved, the need to take responsibility for your own home .. planning to evacuate, renovating with intentional thought for fire risk ... I thought it was very good - there was so much that could have been included but the film gave a good snapshot of the event and was well balanced between the day of the event and the recovery”.

“It was hard to watch but it also showed what it was like. It was great to see the film then turn around to a positive showing the resilience of people and the closeness of the Blue Mountains Community”.

“It made me even more aware of the need to prepare as much as possible but to leave if given the choice”

“Very real, poignant and realistic about our choice to live in a high-risk area and the very real likelihood of it all happening again.”

“Everyone has hopefully learned much and will remember to share their lessons with new and old residents alike.”

To read the full report click here. To view the film, click on the image below:

Fire Stories: Living with Risk was produced by the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute with the generous support of the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Blue Mountains City Council.