Why Reality Check?

Our core audience of millennials grew up online and are naturally open to new modes of storytelling. Young people no longer do most of their film viewing in theaters, and film viewing among all ages is down in collective, live settings. REALITY CHECK reinvents the live experience by questioning what the ideal viewing experience is for a film like Follow the Leader for today’s audiences. Breaking up the film into sections and allowing windows of shared engagement may in fact be preferable for many to viewing the entire film straight through in a dark theater, without the ability to react and interact with others about the characters and issues at hand. In fact, REALITY CHECK approximates how many viewers might choose to watch the film if they understood its structure before viewing it. Breaking up the film into episodes will also allow greater uptake within educational settings and eventually for individual families participating online, who may be more interested given the limited time commitment.

An image of Ben (right) shown in the film, from one of his first high school debating competitions

But REALITY CHECK then takes the film’s potential to impact audience members an important step further. By channelling the passionate reactions of first-time viewers of a documentary that naturally provokes a high level of viewer engagement, REALITY CHECK turns viewers into participants who complete the film itself by adding their experience to it – and each experience is different and personal. The end result is to reinvigorate people with cinematic, shared experiences by giving them a live event far more fulfilling than they could imagine. In doing so, REALITY CHECK will create potential for repeated viewings, further engagement online, and (for many participants) direct prosocial action related to issues involved.

To experience a unique event that each audience creates for itself, diverse audiences will come together – diverse politically, racially, and in terms of age – to assess what we really think as Americans; to engage with each other about how our views are the same, different, admirable, and distressing; and to how we can take to move our society in the direction of better reflecting our shared values. After a national college and community tour, the live interactive experience will be translated to other platforms as noted above.

REALITY CHECK’s journey is also meant to continue long after the “main event”. The interactive website will compile all data from events for visitors to explore what people “really” think about many provocative issues, with the option of splitting results along a variety of demographic lines. Resources may also be made available online to pursue various actions that have been validated collectively by past REALITY CHECK participants – such as furthering initiatives for civic education, debt deduction, national service, or campaign finance reform…or more likely others that future Reality Check groups envision.