Dialog Box

Aged | Community | Health & Wellbeing | Welfare
Send In The Clowns


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Send In The Clowns is an intimate look into the lives of the people who work as Clown Doctors and Elder Clowns, and the people they care for.

We meet Doctors and Nurses and healthcare professionals. They were all skeptics once, now they ask Clown Doctors to attend special procedures, anything likely to be painful and protracted because they know a Clown Doctor helps.

With appropriate permissions, we follow individual patient’s cases and we go beyond anecdote, and examine the science and the evidence behind the magic of laughter and healing.

Clowns diminish pain now, and the risk of trauma in years to come.! For kids with chronic illness, the Clowns make hospital a brighter place. For kids who frequently come to hospital for ongoing treatment, hospital becomes less scary. It’s the place where the Clowns are.

Hospitals with Clown Doctors report they use less painkillers, that healing times are faster, difficult procedures are easier. Elder Clowns prove that laughter is the best medicine in aged care facilities, with nursing homes reporting an increase in happiness and better health of their residents.

Our program is a blend of strong narratives of intensely emotional stories and personal journeys about illness, and pain, tears, and about celebrating the end of life. It’s about tough and brave kids and resilient families. It’s about laughter and the science and deep spiritual dimension of laughter.

The Humour Foundation has been approached by many filmmakers over the years. They have never granted access before, and have only granted this access to writer/director Wain Fimeri.

How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

“Plenty of studies have shown that laughter can combat many common ills. For instance, research suggests that humour may lower blood pressure and release endorphins. Laughter is also proven to improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system, heighten the immune system and make the heart stronger.” The late Dr Peter Spitzer, Medical Director & Co-founder, The Humour Foundation.

The Humour Foundation delivers a unique community program - Clowns from all walks of life who work in our medical and aged care facilities. These are not clowns that you find at the circus or a birthday party, these talented individuals shepherd all kinds of people, young & old through their darkest hours. The Elder Clowns program was the subject of a world first NH&MRC funded research project that indicated Elder Clowns reduced agitation symptoms for residents with dementia by the same level as antipsychotic behaviour management medication.

Currently The Humour Foundation have 73 performers, 16 Elder Clowns and 67 Clown Doctors, and around Australia they deliver approximately 230,000 interactions with people in hospital each year. That is 156 specialist Humour Foundation practitioners each deliver 1474 interactions per year or an average of 4 a day!!

The level of complexity for this role often means that The Humour Foundation find it very difficult to find the right people, and of course to have enough resources to be able to assist the many people that need support.

Send in the Clowns tells the story of this program, through an intimate observation of the clowns themselves, and the people they help. The impact of this film will be heightened awareness of the organisation, further fundraising opportunities to expand their work, and an opportunity for additional care facilities to bring this incredible service to more patients.
Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

ithin our social impact strategy we will be exploring the below main impact goals:
Encouraging the greater public to be open-minded to alternative therapists rather than just standard medical practice
Encouraging viewers to donate, share and support The Humour Foundation
Encouraging more people to show interest in becoming a Clown Doctor which will enable the Humour Foundation to find the right candidates
Encouraging health ministers to consider future funding for organisations such as The Humour Foundation

We will look to achieve the above goals through distribution of the film and fundraising.

We have a letter of intent from Compass at ABC TV to screen this film in 2020 which will be the first major domestic premiere of the project. Beyond Compass we will be engaging a domestic distributor for further opportunities such as an online platform and in-flight entertainment. As there are Clown Doctor programs all over the world, we also intent to engage an international distributor.

A recent study conducted by Social Ventures Australia shows that for every $1 invested into The Humour Foundation Clown Doctors program, there’s a $4.20 social return to the community. Our goal is to double the donations the Humour Foundation through the impact strategy we will put in place.

What is your education and outreach strategy?


Released on ABC television this 2 part series will have a broad reach & kick off the campaign. Following the initial release, the series will be available on demand, as well as targeting specific groups through community screenings, in-flight entertainment for incoming travelers and a program to be implemented within education providers to reach children, families and all kinds of health care practitioners.


In conjunction with the release there will be events and screenings Australia wide all set to engage specific audiences.

• Parliamentary screenings
• We will also work with The Humour Foundation and all key stakeholders ( health care professionals, parents, hospitals and aged care facilities) and do screenings & forums, to educate and increase awareness about the existing value and impact of The Humour Foundation’s work.
• Other Community screenings
• Educational – as a teaching resource
Wain Fimeri
Charlotte Seymour
Total budget
60 Minutes