June 16th, 2011 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the idea for COW originate?

The producer/director, Peter Watkins Hughes, is from the Gwent valleys town of Brynmawr and has already worked with communities in the Blaenau Gwent area, and with Gwent Police on several occasions. More than a decade ago the Force and Mr Watkins Hughes teamed up to produce a film called Lucky Luke, about joy riding. This has been a standard part of PSE education in Welsh schools. When Gwent Police wanted to update the film, they turned to pupils at Tredegar Comprehensive School for advice, who said that using mobile phones while driving was a huge issue amongst young drivers, and, in fact, amongst the general driving population.

How did you manage to shoot the crash scene, and when and where, did it happen?

The scene was shot in the summer of 2008, with a lot of help from the people of Tredegar, and colleagues in other emergency services. The Police closed off a section of the main heads of the valleys road, and a large number of emergency vehicles were deployed, as well as two helicopters – one police, one ambulance.

We had the help of Zipline Creative, graduates of the University of Wales, Newport, to add post production effects and you can see how they did that here: the making of cow video.

The actors, some professional and many more ordinary people and students living in Gwent, gave their time for free or a small payment. The crew included students from the International Film School Wales at the University of Wales, Newport, where Peter is employed as a Senior Lecturer, after a career in BBC education.

The film was edited in the former magistrate’s court at Tredegar.

How much did it cost to make?

Less than £20,000. Contributions came from Blaenau Gwent Council, the Legal and General Insurance Company, the Gwent Shrievalty Trust and Gwent Police.
How did you publicise the film, and how has it achieved seven million hits on the internet?

We held a community launch in June 2009 at Tredegar Comprehensive School, where pupils and staff, and members of the community, were hugely impressed. But, the film did not start gaining international recognition until the Editor, 24-year-old Richard Mickleright, put a four minute clip on You Tube, in July. By mid August, internet users had started to recommend it to their friends. We hit a million views by August 21st, and by the end of September that had grown to seven million hits. When we started going viral, many international broadcasters and publications picked up on the story. These included CBS, ABC, CNN, ITV, BBC On line, GMTV, France Deux, Swiss TV, Fox TV, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Western Mail and the South Wales Argus. In addition, many hundreds of business organisations, road safety, health and education groups, and individuals, from the USA to Australia, have been in touch to request copies.

Can I use the four minute clip on Youtube?

We are happy for people to use the clip, which depicts the actual accident caused by using a mobile while driving, particularly in educational settings, though we recommend you show the whole 30 minute film, which is entertaining, informative, tests emotional intelligence and shows the tragic community consequences of such an accident. Support for those affected by this hard hitting film is available from road safety charities, including Brake and RoSPA.  To purchase a copy of the DVD please visit our Buy DVD page.

Are you selling copies of COW?

Yes, and we also have an educational pack for schools, universities, driving schools, large organisations and other educational groups. We are also interested in licencing arrangements with partieswho might wish to use the film.  Please see the ‘Buy DVD’ section for contact details.

Is COW available in other languages – for instance, Welsh or French?

It will be subtitled in Welsh and English initially

Are there any plans to broadcast COW on television?

Yes, following its initial broadcast on BBC Wales in November 2009, other broadcasters are keen to follow up. The film is available for broadcast in other countries, and has already been taken up by a charity which takes educational films by 43 foot trailer to schools all over the United States and Canada, and whose patron is Steven Spielberg.

I’ve seen some tiny black cow charms saying “Only stupid cows text and drive” How can I get one?

The charms, (which are a reference to the nickname of the teenage driver, Cassie Cowan, and to a scene in the film) are produced for Gwent Police and have been given to teenagers in Gwent. There is a possibility these will also be made available for sale in future if there is a demand.

How much of a problem is texting and driving?

Using a mobile while driving is illegal in the UK, but not in many parts of the United States. In the UK the penalty for using a mobile telephone while in control of a car is three penalty points and a fine of £60. However, half of all young people in the UK (17 to 24 year olds) admit to having texted or phoned while driving. It’s been estimated that texting while driving slows reaction time by 35 % making it potentially more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or drink.

Has the film already resulted in a drop in deaths and serious injuries?

That is difficult to say yet. Many young people tell us they won’t text and drive again after seeing the film, as do many of the people who have written to us, but we would like to see more research and evidence on the subject. A web-based survey in the United States showed that 85% of respondents said they would not text and drive again after seeing the film. We have been showing the film to young drivers in the force area and again, they tell us they will not text and drive in future after seeing the devastating results in COW.

What next?

GIFT (GWENT) will use all the income generated from sales of COW to fund other films that advance education of the public in matters of anti-social behaviour, road, personal and community safety.  Please check our ‘Funding Available’ page for further information.