The purpose of this article is to share insights on a novel approach to participatory action research. The significance of my research highlights the benefits of positioning a film festival as a useful participatory action research framework for researchers seeking impact. A film festival approach provides an effective framework for evidencing co-impact throughout the process. The scope of my research focuses on one case study film festival. Shextreme Film Festival is the world’s first film festival celebrating women in extreme sports and adventure. In this paper, four guiding steps for reflection and five research insights are outlined for researchers seeking to adopt a film festival within their own discipline as a participatory action research approach to creating impact. An advantage of this approach is that a film festival is an effective creative and public forum for addressing aspirations across industry, community and academic divides. It also empowers a researcher by providing an enterprising approach for commercializing research and sustainably funding long-term projects.