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Home » Documentary Film Participants Needed for Focus Groups on Mental Health

Documentary Film Participants Needed for Focus Groups on Mental Health

Telling your story in a documentary film can be a powerful act—but it can also leave participants feeling vulnerable, especially if telling and retelling stories of personal trauma. We want to help filmmakers, funders, and the industry as a whole prioritize the mental health of people who choose to tell their stories, and identify resources needed to support that work.

With generous funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are partnering with DocuMentality on a study to explore how the documentary industry can better protect and support the mental health and well-being of film protagonists. One component of the study will be 90-minute virtual focus groups, led by the DocuMentality team, which will take place in January 2024.

We are recruiting past and current documentary film participants to take part in this exciting initiative!

If you are interested, please fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch to let you know if we’re able to accommodate you.

For questions about accessibility or anything else, Check out our FAQ below, or email Peace is Loud’s Director of Film Impact and Innovation, Stephanie Palumbo, at


Who is leading this study?

  • DocuMentality, a research initiative whose aim is to create dialogue and collaborative change to the key mental health and well-being challenges currently facing the documentary community: filmmakers, crew and participants.
  • Peace is Loud, an intersectional feminist nonprofit that uses storytelling and documentary film to drive people-powered change.
  • We’re grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for funding this study.

Has another study been done around mental health and the documentary industry?
Yes, DocuMentality led two similar studies and focus groups around filmmaker mental health. You can read their first report here.

If I fill out the form, will I definitely be part of the focus groups?
Not necessarily—we may get more responses than we have spaces in the focus groups. We will follow up with everyone to let you know if we’re moving forward.

Will I be compensated for participating in your focus group?
Yes, you’ll receive $150 for joining.

How long will the focus group take?
90 minutes.

How many focus groups will you lead?
We plan to lead four focus groups with eight people at a time.

Where will the focus groups be held?
They are virtual only, via Zoom.

How will you protect my mental health needs in the focus groups?
DocuMentality is led by trained mental health professionals with a wide range of expertise in the field and direct experiences working with documentary filmmakers.

I heard about a study led by ITVS. Is this the same thing?
Nope! Although you can participate in both, our study looks specifically at how the documentary film industry can better support the mental health of film participants. The ITVS study, Exploring the Relationship Between Documentary Makers and Participants, is a large-scale study including both a survey and small group discussions to understand more about how filmmakers and participants work together. That study is funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Both are crucial to strengthen relationships between filmmakers and participants and advance equity and health in our industry.

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