Nicole Conlan, a writer for Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” recently pitched a half-hour climate change sitcom to a studio executive. Inspired by shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the sitcom is set at a Colorado environmental group and focuses on a character who initially gets involved in climate advocacy for selfish reasons but must learn to care. Conlan emphasized that the show is about the characters and their interactions, similar to how “Parks and Rec” is about local government but not really about local government.

The Hollywood Climate Summit organized a “pitchfest” which brought together screenwriters to pitch climate-related scripts to development executives. Submissions for the pitchfest included 125 film scripts and TV pilots, with the focus on aspirational values in the age of climate change. The initiative aims to avoid apocalyptic or eco-terrorism-focused tropes in climate stories, seeking instead to tell stories that reflect reality and offer hope for the future. Despite the growing movement within the entertainment industry to tell climate-related stories, research shows that there are still not enough references to the climate crisis on screens.

Hollywood has the potential to shape how people understand and interact with the world through entertainment. By incorporating references to the climate crisis in TV shows and movies, writers and studios can influence viewers’ attitudes and behaviors towards environmental issues. Encouragingly, entertainment industry professionals are coming together to discuss climate-related storytelling, recognizing the power of media in promoting positive change. Opportunities like the pitchfest serve as valuable networking and feedback sessions for writers, as well as a chance to engage with studios on developing climate-conscious content.

One major studio showing openness to climate-conscious storytelling is Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which launched the GreenerLight Program to prioritize sustainability both behind and in front of the camera. By working with organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Rewrite the Future team, Universal Pictures and other studios are striving to create impactful and engaging content that incorporates environmental themes. While there may not be many films with climate themes currently in theaters as a result of these initiatives, there is optimism about the potential for upcoming projects to drive positive change.

Efforts like Rewrite the Future and the Hollywood Climate Summit are relatively new but have shown promise in mobilizing the entertainment industry to address the climate emergency. By weaving climate themes into compelling and diverse stories, screenwriters can reach a wide audience and inspire action on environmental issues. The importance of telling climate-related stories lies in influencing public perception and behavior towards sustainability and conservation efforts. Through partnerships, networking opportunities, and ongoing discussions, the entertainment industry is gradually shifting towards creating content that reflects the realities of a world shaped by rising temperatures.

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