Rewrite the Future
NRDC helps Hollywood take on the climate crisis.
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. Or that it’s already too late. These stories can lead to despair, complacency, and inaction.
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.
“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.”
Laura Dern, actor, in Variety, "Is Hollywood Doing Enough to Fight the Climate Crisis?"
NRDC at the Sundance Film Festival
The Big Picture
“The Big Picture: Representing Our Climate-Altered World On-Screen” brought together a panel of Hollywood professionals to discuss creative strategies for representing climate in film and on TV. Watch the video of NRDC’s virtual panel at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
More Than a Feeling
“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. Watch the video of NRDC’s virtual panel at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
“Beyond Apocalypse: Alternative Climate Futures in Film and TV” gathered filmmakers and climate leaders to discuss how entertainment stories can help us see, feel, and build the climate future we want. Watch the video of NRDC’s virtual panel at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
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.
Hollywood storytelling has long influenced society on issues such as racism, gender inequality and homophobia, and helped transform our culture. But so far, Hollywood hasn’t tackled climate change with similar determination, especially considering the scale of the crisis. It is a crisis that touches all of our lives in increasingly dramatic ways—physically, emotionally, and economically—and concern about it is surging.
A small, new wave of award-winning, critically acclaimed content is tackling climate and environmental issues—and resonating with audiences around the world—but these topics remain significantly underrepresented in popular entertainment. We’ve asked content creators what keeps them from trying out more varied climate approaches. They say they’re concerned that climate is complicated, abstract, and potentially boring, and that it could be divisive and depressing.
Another factor may be that writers themselves find the issue psychologically challenging.
We understand these reservations. But we also believe that new ways of thinking about climate change can turn these perceived hurdles into creative opportunities.
“This is our century…yours and mine. Let us encourage one another with visions of a shared future. And let us bring all the grit and openheartedness and creative spirit we can muster to gather together and build that future.”
Norman Lear, The New York Times
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. These include:
- Climate storytelling panel discussions
- Presentations & workshops for creators
- Customized climate story consulting, backed by NRDC’s science & policy expertise
- Corporate strategy consulting
- Industry dialogue & networking
- Promotion & amplification
NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship
In 2021, NRDC’s Rewrite the Future launched a first-of-its-kind Climate Storytelling Fellowship in partnership with the Black List, the Redford Center, and CAA Foundation.
The annual fellowship encourages climate storytelling by supporting the revision of screenplays or pilots that engage with climate change in a meaningful way, through events, actions, character, emotions, plot, and/or setting.
The fellowship awards three recipients with $20,000 each and six months of mentorship with industry professionals and climate storytelling experts to provide creative support for their original script. 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.
The 2024 fellowship cycle is now open for submissions through November 27, 2023. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.