The Black List, NRDC, The Redford Center, and The CAA Foundation Announce 2021 Climate Storytelling Fellowship Recipients
Los Angeles - The Black List, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), The Redford Center and the CAA Foundation are thrilled to announce the three recipients of the inaugural Climate Storytelling Fellowship, which aims to encourage more varied climate stories that reflect the reality of the climate crisis, depict solutions and imagine a just and equitable future.
Elise H. Greven (SILENT SPRING), Jonathan Brebner (THE DEMON), and Ellie Bambach Morello (AMERICAN EXILES) were selected from a pool of screenwriters whose work offers unique perspectives on the climate crisis. The script submissions, which ranged from sci-fi TV pilots to feature-length romantic comedies, highlight a vast array of stories that expand the notion of what climate storytelling can be.
“Telling a story about climate and environmental threats feels so incredibly urgent in our current moment,” said Greven. “I am honored to get the support of the NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship to help move my script about Rachel Carson's work forward.”
“It's such an exciting opportunity to be part of a program focused specifically on climate storytelling. Good stories have the power to change the world—but first we have to tell them,” added Brebner.
It was also announced today that the CAA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of leading talent and sports agency, Creative Artists Agency, has joined the initiative. The Foundation harnesses the power and reach of the entertainment industry to create positive social change by forging strategic partnerships, encouraging volunteerism, granting financial contributions, stimulating public awareness, and providing in-kind donations.
In addition to the $15,000 financial award, an increase from the previously announced $10,000 honorarium, each writer will be paired with screenwriting and climate professionals to help develop their script throughout the next six months.
“Being selected for the NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship gives me the opportunity to combine my love of screenwriting and my passion for climate action. I believe that utilising the scripted media space to tell climate stories is the most effective way to broach the messaging divide between climate science and the public,” said Bambach Morello.
“The CAA Foundation has been a consistent supporter of, and active participant in, efforts to address global environmental concerns,” said CAA Foundation executive Adam Umhoefer. “Compelling climate stories on-screen can help us all envision a hopeful future, and inspire action to ensure a livable planet. The CAA Foundation is excited to support these three writers and innovative climate storytelling."
Sarah Treem (THE AFFAIR, HOUSE OF CARDS, IN TREATMENT), Scott Z. Burns (AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, CONTAGION, EXTRAPOLATIONS), and Naren Shankar (THE EXPANSE) have signed on as mentors to help guide the writers through the revision process. The Fellows will also meet with a climate story consultant from NRDC’s Rewrite the Future program to advise on how to approach climate storytelling in a way that is both entertaining and impactful. An NRDC expert will also be on hand to advise the Fellows on climate issues that are relevant to their work. At the end of the six-month revision period, the completed scripts may be reviewed by prominent studios, agencies and/or production companies including Hyperobject Industries, Madica Productions, Participant, UTA and WME.
2021 CLIMATE STORYTELLING FELLOWS AND PROJECTS
SILENT SPRING by Elise H. Greven
Logline: Biologist Rachel Carson takes on the government and powerful chemical industries as she struggles to write Silent Spring, the book that sparks the creation of the American environmental movement.
After graduating from the NYU Graduate Film Program, Elise H. Greven has spent the last decade working in television. Her script Silent Spring was previously selected for the Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep supported Writer's Lab workshop, and was a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriting Lab Sloan Award in 2021.
THE DEMON by Jonathan Brebner
Logline: A journalist tracking a missing family and a doctor investigating a mysterious disease outbreak uncover a dangerous conspiracy in Canadian oil country.
Jonathan Brebner is a writer, filmmaker, and activist based in Seattle. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and later worked in commercial and film production. After several years of writing professionally in campaign politics, including on the Elizabeth Warren campaign, he's now the Chief Storyteller for South Park Commons, a community of technologists, tinkerers, and domain-experts dedicated to intentional exploration.
AMERICAN EXILES by Ellie Bambach Morello
Logline: A crisis erupts when America is inundated with climate refugees and eco-terrorists from one hundred years in the future.
Ellie Bambach Morello is a feature and television writer from Batemans Bay, Australia. Her first-hand experience at one of the epicentres of the 2019/2020 bushfire season has seen her pivot toward climate storytelling.
ABOUT THE BLACK LIST
The Black List, an annual survey of Hollywood executives' favorite unproduced screenplays, was founded in 2005. Since then, more than 400 Black List scripts have been produced, grossing over $29 billion in box office worldwide. Black List movies have won 54 Academy Awards from 267 nominations, including four of the last twelve Best Picture Oscars and eleven of the last 28 Best Screenplay Oscars.
In October of 2012, the Black List launched a unique online community where screenwriters make their work available to readers, buyers and employers. Since its inception, it has hosted more than 70,000 screenplays and teleplays and provided more than 120,000 script evaluations. As a direct result of introductions made on the Black List, dozens of writers have found representation at major talent agencies and management companies, as well as sold or optioned their screenplays. Several films have been produced from scripts showcased on the website including Golden Globe nominated NIGHTINGALE, starring David Oyelowo.
Currently, the Black List hosts over 5,500 by nearly 3,700 writer members, available for download by industry professionals ranging from agency assistants, to studio and network presidents, to A-list actors and directors.
The Black List’s first feature production, COME AS YOU ARE, debuted at SXSW in 2019 and is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Its second feature, BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY, directed by Oscar-nominated director Tate Taylor and starring Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Regina Hall, Awkwafina, Wanda Sykes, and Juliette Lewis, was released in February 2021 by MGM’s American International Pictures.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
ABOUT THE REDFORD CENTER
Co-founded in 2005 by Robert Redford and his son James Redford, The Redford Center uses the power of storytelling to galvanize environmental justice and regeneration. Its cross-cutting programs support environmental storytellers and invest in impact-driven narrative strategies. By amplifying and changing the conversations around environmentalism, The Redford Center aims to engage a much broader and more diverse population in the movement. It has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and 30+ short films, supported 75+ film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired 400+ student films, and dispersed more than $8 million to fiscally sponsored projects. Redford Center film impact campaigns have halted the construction of dirty coal plants, reconnected the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez, and helped accelerate the clean energy revolution in America. To learn more, visit RedfordCenter.org or follow The Redford Center on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.
ABOUT THE CAA FOUNDATION
The CAA Foundation activates the power and reach of the entertainment, media, and sports industries to create systemic social change for a more equitable and optimistic future. Its efforts are focused on public education, workforce development, civic engagement, and in times of critical need, mobilizing into action through crisis relief. Since its launch in 1995, the CAA Foundation has served as the heart of the agency, investing in our communities and helping our clients achieve their humanitarian goals.