When Newport University film studies lecturer and social action broadcast specialist Peter Watkins-Hughes went to Tredegar Comprehensive School students with an idea for a short film about teenage drink driving they said: “It’s not drunk driving that’s the biggest problem; it’s texting while driving”.
Peter didn’t have much of a budget, so he asked Gwent Police for help. They gave advice, use of their helicopter, their vehicles and their officers as ‘extras’.
When the film was shot and edited, Peter put it on You Tube so he could send a link to BBC commissioners. Within a week, the film had had 50 views. It then rose to 200. Then Peter had a call from a student: “It’s up to 500″
Peter: “Great, 500 hits is OK”
Student: “No, not 500 – it’s had 500 _thousand_ views!”
The video had gone viral. Soon 4m YouTube views had been clocked.
It was being shown in schools and colleges in north America. News networks like CBS were showing clips and it Oprah showed it on her programme. And, by adding estimates of those TV audiences, that’s how Peter worked out that half a billion people had seen part of his film COW.