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Impact Entertainment:
Reflecting Climate Issues in the World We Live in

Good Energy helps writers and other entertainment professionals address the climate crisis with confidence and make climate storytelling a mainstream narrative for all audiences.

Nonprofit storytelling consultancy Good Energy — which believes that Hollywood is uniquely positioned to shift the conversation on climate change — serves as a hub for entertainment professionals and climate experts looking to meaningfully represent the climate crisis on-screen across all genres and mediums.

A glaring question

“Why is the climate crisis largely absent from our screen?” Good Energy founder and CEO Anna Jane Joyner pondered as she noticed the pattern within the entertainment industry, in which mentions of climate change have been largely nonexistent in scripted entertainment. The industry itself has been responsible for pivotal societal changes — from popularizing the now common term “designated driver” to significantly increasing diversity, equity and inclusion practices both on and off-screen.

Joyner explained to Sustainable Brands® that while storytelling centered around our environment had been done before, it was mostly in the form of documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth (2006); or apocalyptic narratives, such as The Day After Tomorrow (2004) or Snowpiercer (2013). This led to a long, deep-listening tour throughout Hollywood, during which Joyner heard that many creatives — including producers, directors and executives — were eager to discuss and convey the reality of the climate crisis, but understandably feared polarization or backlash if the subject was not presented with complete scientific accuracy.

Joyner founded Good Energy in 2019 to help writers and other entertainment professionals address the climate crisis with confidence and make climate storytelling a mainstream narrative for all audiences. The agency believes climate change is a generative lens (it coined the term, “Climate Lens”) through which to imagine any aspect of a story.

Bringing Good Energy for good storytelling

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In 2022, Good Energy and the USC Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project released Glaring Absence: The Climate Crisis Is Virtually Nonexistent in Scripted Entertainment — a first-of-its-kind analysis of 37,453 TV and movie scripts from 2016-2020 — which found that less than 3 percent of scripted TV and film acknowledges climate change. In the survey of 2,000 US adults, more than three in four (77 percent) reported learning about social issues from fictional TV or film, at least occasionally; however, only 25 percent say they hear about the climate crisis from fictional TV or films.

Joyner says the study helped Good Energy develop resources to facilitate the integration of ethical and accurate climate representation in media narratives. It now offers workshops, consulting and its principal resource, The Playbook for Storytelling in the Age of Climate Change — a comprehensive, open-source, digital tool launched in April 2022 that helps creative teams develop climate narratives — which is now being used by industry partners, screenwriters and students.

Good Energy has worked with clients including Apple TV+, CBC, CBS, Showtime and Spotify; and been featured on nearly 50 media outlets within the last two years.

Climate narratives in society

To quote Dorothy Fortenberry, the acclaimed writer and producer behind the dystopian Apple TV series, “Extrapolations”: “If climate isn’t in your story, it’s science fiction.” The effects of climate change are occurring more frequently and severely every day — from record-breaking heat waves to catastrophic wildfires and storms, to dwindling glaciers and ice caps, the relevancy of climate change grows every day. Good Energy identifies that everyone on Earth has a climate story now — and seeing characters that reflect our reality on screen can help viewers may feel less alone and even inspired; rather than anxious or hopeless.

Stories have been used to change society in the past; and when it comes to climate, society is in desperate need of a unifying guide for addressing the problem. Every living being and every corner of the earth will be impacted by climate change; so, climate isn’t just “another” issue — it’s a universal backdrop to our lives. This backdrop provides fodder for countless stories that reflect society as it is today — stories with the power to change the world for the better.

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