Good Energy Releases Resource Guide for Hollywood’s Portrayals of Climate Change

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Nonprofit Good Energy has published a resource guide to assist the TV and film industries in their coverage of climate change in projects.

Titled “Good Energy: A Playbook for Screenwriting in the Age of Climate Change,” the document is described by the organization as “a guide to incorporating climate into any storyline or genre, was brought to life to provide screenwriters, industry executives, actors, and creatives with a groundbreaking and robust resource to help illustrate ways in which climate can be weaved into TV and movies.”

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Per the nonprofit, “To establish a baseline for climate change representation in TV and film, Good Energy partnered with USC’s Media Impact Lab at the Norman Lear Center to commission a first-ever research landscape of climate stories in TV and film over the past five years, as well as an audience survey, to gauge popular interest in climate stories and characters. USC analyzed 37,453 scripts from 2016-2020 and found that only 1,046 (2.8%) of the scripts included any climate change keywords — and within those scripts, there were only 1,772 mentions of those climate change keywords. A more in-depth breakdown of the findings is set to be released in the coming weeks.”

Good Energy says it consulted with more than 100 TV and film writers, creatives and producers in Hollywood, Atlanta and around the country, as well as climate scientists, climate psychologists, activists and more to create the playbook, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, CAA Foundation, Sierra Club, Walton Family Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Center for Cultural Power and 1 Earth Fund, as well as Zazie Beetz, Scott Z. Burns, Don Cheadle, Rosario Dawson, Lyn and Norman Lear, Adam McKay, Mark Ruffalo, David Rysdahl, and Sarah Treem.

The guide, which can be found here, features “a thrilling array of raw material — from climate psychology, solutions and the latest science, to fascinating profiles of characters on the frontline of the climate crisis and unique climate impacts like scorpion attacks and blood snow,” and aims to provide “writers a larger menu of possibilities for how climate change might show up on screen.”

Good Energy plans to host workshops and programming on the playbook for writers throughout the year.

“Climate change is the biggest story in 66 million years. After reading the 2018 IPCC Report, I couldn’t sleep for two nights. I had the sickening realization that we have to take care of this, that it is happening right now, not in 80 years,” McKay said. “Climate change is terrifying and sad and absurd. And it’s okay to have all these complicated feelings. That’s where my drive came from to make ‘Don’t Look Up.’ We’ve seen how the film has created more conversation and protests to demand that governments look up. Nonetheless, that is just one movie and we have so much more to do.”

“There’s nothing more dramatic and important than the climate crisis,” Anna Jane Joyner, founder and director of Good Energy, said. “Yet, we hardly ever see it on screen. The launch of ‘Good Energy: A Playbook for Screenwriting in the Age of Climate Change’ marks a monumental milestone to help inform and inspire great portrayals of climate change in television and film. In real life, climate change is all around us, so if your story takes place today or in the near future, climate is already a part of the world of your story and characters’ lives. The Playbook introduces a climate lens that helps writers to discover how to portray it in ways that are entertaining, relevant and authentic.”

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