NRDC Helps Hollywood Take on the Climate Crisis
“It’s really exciting when storytelling can resonate with the greatest issue of our time. There can be no greater focus than saving our home.”
By now there should be no doubt that the climate crisis is urgent and dire. So why aren’t we rising up and demanding action?
In part, because we’re telling ourselves the wrong stories about climate. That it’s not urgent or even real. That we have plenty of time. That it’s too expensive or too big to fix. That it’s already too late. And other fairy tales that invite complacency.
We need a new climate narrative. A narrative that will help us face reality, confront our fear and grief, imagine possible futures, and inspire us to action. We need Hollywood to help us rewrite the future.
More than a feeling
Click the video to watch NRDC’s virtual panel at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. “More than a Feeling: Climate Emotions in Film & TV” brought together a panel of Hollywood storytellers and mental health experts to discuss how to represent climate emotions in entertainment to better reflect our lived responses to the crisis.
In 2021, NRDC announced a partnership with the Black List and the Redford Center to launch a first-ever Climate Storytelling Fellowship, which aims to encourage more varied climate stories that reflect the reality of the climate crisis and solutions.
The fellowship continues this year: It will award three recipients $20,000 each and connect them with industry professionals and climate storytelling experts to provide creative support for their original feature screenplay or pilot script that engages with climate change in a meaningful way, through events, actions, character, emotions, plot, and/or setting. At the conclusion of the fellowship, revised scripts will be hosted on the Black List website and may be reviewed for development by prominent studios, agencies, and/or production companies. Writers will retain all rights to their scripts. Click here to learn more and submit your script. View the additional FAQs here.
The power of stories
Social scientists tell us that entertainment can be a more effective way to change people’s attitudes and behavior than factual communication.
Entertainment reaches across demographics and national borders, and when a good story carries us away, we effortlessly absorb new information; identify with characters who may be very different from us; drop our defenses and identity group biases; and open our minds and hearts to new ways of thinking and living.
Over the decades, the entertainment community has focused its creative power on other social problems—the Vietnam War, racism, women in the workplace, the AIDS epidemic, marriage equality—and helped bring about cultural transformations. But Hollywood hasn’t told many stories about climate change.
Yes, there have been barriers to climate storytelling in the past, but they’re falling now. The climate crisis is no longer abstract and remote—it is at our door. The power that network advertisers once had to influence content is waning with the rapid growth of subscription-based entertainment. Climate stories needn’t be preachy, boring, or politically divisive, and the narrative possibilities go far beyond the clichés of disaster and apocalypse.
NRDC’s Rewrite the Future initiative aims to enlist the power of storytelling to help us turn the climate crisis around. We offer a range of support to encourage more, varied, and compelling climate stories in entertainment, including industry dialogue and networking, climate story consultation, and help with project development.
Storytellers have a vital role to play in shaping our cultural narrative about climate. And a new narrative is necessary if we’re going to meet the challenges ahead. Together, Hollywood’s storytellers can help save the world.
Climate storytelling is more than disaster movies
The climate crisis and its solutions offer endless story opportunities across genres, from comedy to drama, recent history to speculative futures, and everything in between.
- Realistic depictions of people dealing with climate anxiety, like this season’s “End of the World” episode of Big Little Lies.
- Absurdist comedy, like the recent “The Gang Solves Global Warming” episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- How climate influences basic personal decisions, such as whether to have children, where and how to live, and what kind of work to do.
- Stories that personalize the impacts of climate-related disasters on people around the world.
- Emotionally engaging stories that show people facing, feeling, and moving through their fear and helplessness to become part of the solution in small and large ways.
- Characters based on the heroines and heroes who are leading communities to better futures, innovating solutions, and inspiring others to act.
- Audiences need to see and feel what our future will be like if we do nothing—the hideous escalation of climate-related crises, the runaway climate feedback loops that could very well destroy us (such as The Day After Tomorrow and Years and Years).
- Most important, we need visual storytelling to show us the alternative to climate apocalypse—the promise and immense opportunity of a healthy, sustainable, more equitable future if we leave complacency behind and rise to the challenge.
“Even in an advanced green economy, there will be murders, affairs, and corruption.”
—DANIEL HINERFELD, Good energy playbook, “Imagine a climate future worth fighting for”
Rewrite the Future offers support to entertainment professionals who wish to tell the greatest story of our time.
- Climate storytelling panels and workshops
- Industry dialogue and networking
- Customized climate story consulting
- Writers’ room presentations
- Working with studio and network executives to expand markets for climate stories
- Tip sheet of helpful climate mentions
- Science and policy expertise
- Packaging and development
- Promotion and amplification
- Legislative advocacy for climate production tax incentives
- Climate IP library
Click the video to watch NRDC’s virtual panel at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. “Beyond Apocalypse: Alternative Climate Futures in Film and TV” brought together filmmakers and climate leaders to discuss how entertainment stories can help us see, feel, and build the climate future we want.
To learn more, please contact us: