According to a study of 37.453 TV and film scripts, only 2.8% of screen fiction refers to climate-related words. Tuesday's release included a blueprint of ways to change that.
"Good Energy": A Playbook to Support Screenwriting in the Age of Climate Change was developed with input from more than 100 TV and film writers, according to Anna Jane Joyner (editor-in-chief of this playbook) and founder of Good Energy, an independent consultancy.
She stated that "a big obstacle that we faced was that writers were associating Climate Stories with Apocalypse Stories." "The playbook's main purpose is to broaden that .... range of possibilities and show more of what it might look like in real life."
Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sierra Club were among the funders of the playbook project.
Numerous celebrities have been raising the alarm about climate change, including Jane Fonda and Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shailene Woodley, and Jane Fonda. DiCaprio also starred as Don't Look Up, the 2021 Oscar-nominated movie in which a comet is seen hurtling towards an indifferent Earth. This film is a metaphor to the danger of climate-change apathy.
Joyner stated that the playbook asks industry executives and writers to consider alternative approaches. Joyner provided examples and resources.
She said, "We refer to it as a spectrum. Everything from showing the impact with solutions at the background." It is possible to include climate change in scenes without being explicit.
Joyner stated, "If you are already attached to a character from a story and it authentically arises in conversation for that character, it validates the audience that it is OK to discuss in your daily lives."
Dorothy Fortenberry is a TV writer ("The Handmaid's Tale"), and a playwright. She said that the industry must broaden its perspective on who it writes about, and not just what.
"Climate Change is something that is currently affecting people who don't necessarily fit the stereotypes of Hollywood. Fortenberry stated that it is affecting farmers in Bangladesh and Peru as well as farmers in Kentucky. "If stories were told about different types of people, it would be possible to seamlessly integrate climate into the story."
Joyner, who has been working in climate-change communications across various sectors and communities for fifteen years, seems not surprised by the failure of the entertainment industry to tell a more effective story about the issue.
Joyner stated that for the first ten years, it felt like "screaming in the void" due to the lack of responses. She said that there was evidence of Americans becoming more concerned about climate change, even among Hollywood stars.
She said, "We all went through a sort of awakening." She said that there are many documentaries and news programs on climate change. This gives her hope that fiction writers will continue to make steady progress.
Good Energy paid for the script analysis of the Norman Lear Center's Media Impact Project, University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Researchers checked for 36 key words and phrases, including "climate changes", "fracking", and "global heating" in television episodes and movies that were released in the U.S.