Primary Purpose was formed by oscar nominated director, Jonathan Heap, and Lowell Cauffiel, a best-selling author and screenwriter who in 2001 tested ways to reach young problem drinkers for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The NIAAA project, conducted with scientists from the University of Michigan, showed that young drinkers were more likely to prevent and address drinking problems after they read compelling stories told by peers about their misadventures with alcohol. These stories not only portrayed negative consequences, they were ripe with drama, irony and even humor.
However, the transformative power of a good story is not limited to nonfiction. Other studies at the University of Southern California reveal that episodes of popular TV shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy inspire millions of Americans to visit doctors, get medical tests and change unhealthy behaviors.
Says Cauffiel, “In short, science now confirms what philosophers, novelists, film makers and Twelve Step groups have known for years: Nothing is more moving than a tale well told.”
Unfortunately, most public health campaigns ignore this principle. Government and institutional text and films typically are loaded with broad warnings, statistics and dry clinical content. Most education and prevention films appear hopelessly out-of-date to a 21st Century audience conditioned by theater blockbusters, MTV, video games and YouTube.
Primary Purpose, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation, addresses this shortfall with the production of lively scripted and documentary content. Its films also are designed to captivate a general audience in theaters, television and the internet – touching the hearts and minds of people who might not seek out such information, but will be influenced by it nonetheless.