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🎬 Lights, Camera, Climate Action: Hollywood's Role in Climate
by Allison Begalman, Ali Weinstein, and Heather Fipps, co-founders of the Hollywood Climate Summit
When people hear the term “Hollywood” most think of classic films, network television shows, red carpets, and “making it” in Los Angeles. That version of Hollywood is dead, replaced by technology and media conglomerates using data to dictate stories.
The result is a devaluation of creative freedom and risk-taking, accompanied by excessive reliance on data and consolidation. This issue is exemplified by the ongoing Writer's Guild of America strike, as writers negotiate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, demanding fair pay, improved working conditions, restrictions on the use of AI, and other crucial reforms.
Likely to be joined by other major guilds in the industry, this strike is a labor movement: a collective fight against this new version of Hollywood. Like many social justice movements, this sparks a moment of reckoning that industry changemakers can use to accelerate their work.
As creatives who have been working in Hollywood for more than ten years -- but also as climate activists -- we have seen that within this industry, it’s powerful to organize around any social justice movement and have an impact on both global culture and the economy.
This is because professionals working in the media and entertainment sector (everything from film, television, and music to advertising, fashion, and social media) are making influential messaging and business choices every day. These choices affect everything from what sound bites are worth repeating to the must-have toys during holidays.
However, when it comes to the climate emergency, let’s consider how most individuals -- especially those who don’t work in Hollywood -- are experiencing the climate crisis from Hollywood’s point of view. At this point, every human is dealing with climate change -- some more than others -- and despite this, how often do we see our current experiences with climate represented in the stories we watch?
Our answer: not often.
This is supported by a report commissioned in October 2022 by Good Energy and conducted by USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. It found that out of 37,453 US TV and movie scripts from 2016-2020, less than 0.56 percent mention the term “climate change”and only 2.8 percent of scripts mention any of 36 major climate-adjacent words or phrases. AKA according to Hollywood, climate change doesn’t exist.
Four years ago, as both entertainment professionals and climate activists, we came together to discuss the unfortunate reality that while incredible leaders have been growing the climate media movement for decades, we’re still not anywhere near where we need to be. We also acknowledged that within every industry position we’d held, there had been a community that wanted to do something to support the climate movement but didn’t know how. They didn’t know that many of our now-mentors and peers were combining climate and entertainment to innovate sustainable production, create tools for better storytelling, and transform their relationships with the fossil fuel industry. We needed to build momentum.
Our solution was building the Hollywood Climate Summit: to elevate the work already being done while opening the door for interested and newly activated creative professionals to join the climate movement and stay engaged. Each year we amplify and build bridges between creators and climate organizations, leaders, and activists with valuable tools for people interested in climate communication, storytelling, and sustainable production.
If you’re interested in using your unique creative skillset to advance the climate conversation here are a few resources we find extremely valuable from our partners. For even more, join us this year June 21-24 for new resources, networking, and inspiration.
Resources for writing climate narratives:
Earth Justice’s online resource Lit is a climate justice storytelling project that connects the dots between climate change, systemic racism, and extreme inequality.
Grist’s Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors features some inspiring visions.
The Hollywood Climate Summit’s Prompts and Pitfalls Resource
The Climate Storytelling Fellowship hosted by The Black List in partnership with NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Rewrite the Future program, The Redford Center, and The CAA Foundation.
Intersectional Environmentalist’s Podcast "The Joy Report" dedicated to sharing stories about climate solutions and environmental justice grounded in intersectionality, optimism, and joy.
Sustainable filmmaking practices and tools:
The Reel Green’s Climate + Sustainable Production Course
Implement sustainability behind the screen using PGA Green’s Green Production Guide Toolkit.
ALBERT has recommendations for what every department and every role can do to make more sustainable choices.
Subscribe to the Hollywood Climate Summit Newsletter for updates on the next Climate Ambassadors Network event.
We continue to be inspired that over the past four years, we see more initiatives, more resources, and more people raising their voices to use the power of media and storytelling to shift the narrative about our climate future and each of our roles in it. When we started, we had to scrape programming together and the conversation was about what we should be doing. Now, we can hardly make enough space to fit all of the amazing work into our summit programming and the conversation is what we are doing. That’s the power of community.
Community creates cultural shifts and builds momentum.
If these issues are highlighted publicly enough, the pressure builds from audiences/consumers, which pushes creatives, executives, and producers to integrate these subjects into their shows, films, and other content. Once this content is released, the messaging spreads globally, furthering community building, perspective shifts, and ideally more equitable changes to policy, business, and more. In this sense, Hollywood is not unique. Most careers involve messaging, creativity, and the desire to shift cultural norms.
No matter how powerful an individual is in this field, movements can’t grow with just one person. It takes a collective to believe in something enough to take action.
Climate is the most intersectional issue of our time. We know that we can find a way to harness this collective power for the imperative climate revolution.
All are welcome in this movement.
✍️ The Draw-down
Weekly climate art by Nicole Kelner
🍿 The Lean Back
Learn about Evrnu in the latest Pique Action film.
👩💻 Climate Jobs
Production Operator at AMP Robotics (Solon, Ohio)
People and Culture Coordinator at BasiGo (Nairobi, Kenya)
Sustainability Solutions Advisor at Climate Club (Remote)
Full Stack Software Engineer at David Energy (Hybrid/Brooklyn)
Senior Product Manager at Leap (Remote)
Business Operations Associate / Chief of Staff at Odyssey Energy (Remote)
VP of Product at Pachama (Remote)
Junior Mechanical Engineer at Phoenix Tailings (Woburn, MA)
Thermal Systems Engineer at Quilt (Redwood City, CA)
Senior Enterprise Account Executive at Rheaply (Remote)
Full Stack Engineer at Stripe Climate
✨ Community Highlights
🗓 June Events
Click the event title for details & RSVP info. For more climate events, check out the #c-events channel in MCJ Slack.
⚡️ AMA: Jigar Shah - DOE: Jigar Shah is the Director of the Loan Programs Office at the United States Department of Energy. Jigar will be joining our #c-mcj-ama channel for 24 hours and answering your questions. Set your reminders! (6/01)
👋 MCJ Community Welcome Call: Connect, share and learn with the MCJ team and community members. (6/01)
🙌 Climate Career Advancement Meetup: If you are thinking about advancing your career to work in climate, please join us for an hour of learning and networking. (6/07)
🌤️ San Diego Meetup: Informal networking event in Miramar (6/07)
🌱 Climate DC: June Meet Up co-hosted by Raise Green (6/08)
🍻 Minneapolis / St. Paul Climate Meetup: Monthly gathering for the local climate community. (6/15)
💭 If you have feedback or items you’d like to include, feel free to reach out.
🤝 If you’d like to become an MCJ community member, apply today.
💡 Have a climate-related event or content topic that you'd like to see in the MCJ newsletter? Email us at email@example.com