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Writers pitch Hollywood studios unexpected new subject for TV shows and blockbusters: 'We did not have a hard time getting interest'

"We turn tragedies into comedies all the time."

"We turn tragedies into comedies all the time."

Photo Credit: iStock

A number of writers are hoping they've moved the needle toward a different type of storytelling — one that effortlessly raises awareness about climate issues in an entertaining way. 

As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Climate Summit hosted a pitchfest for climate-themed content after selecting 51 semifinalists from 125 film scripts and TV pilots. 

The idea of yet another dystopian feature may be unappealing to some, but as the Hollywood Climate Summit noted on its website, the content wasn't limited to "doom and gloom disasters," with adventure, comedy, science fiction, and children's animation among the genres.

One of the writers, Nicole Conlan — a joke writer for "The Daily Show" — explained to the Times how she pulled inspiration from her experiences growing up in Colorado. 

"It really is a show about the characters and their interactions," she said. "Kind of the same way 'Parks and Rec' is a show about local government, but it's not really a show about local government. Or 'Always Sunny' is about running a bar, but it's not really about running a bar."

Writers at the second climate-related pitchfest, the first of which took place in 2022, had the opportunity to sell their stories to development executives. According to summit co-founder Heather Fipps, there was a promising level of engagement. 

"We did not have a hard time getting interest in the development executives coming. So that's a good sign," Fipps told the Times. 

The writers are optimistic that their work will lead to more meaningful conversations that raise awareness and galvanize people to get involved in planet-friendly efforts

Analysis by the USC Norman Lear Center Media Impact Project in 2022 found that only 2.8% of 37,453 TV and film scripts contained climate keywords. 

Meanwhile, only 0.6% of scripts specifically mentioned the term "climate change" in reference to warming global temperatures — a human-caused trend that leads to more extreme weather events and has been a contributing factor to rising food prices

"Entertainment narratives have the power to shape our understanding of the world around us and mobilize us to take action," the report noted, highlighting that there was audience demand for engaging climate stories. 

The Times reported that the writers "didn't have high hopes" somebody would immediately pick up their stories yet saw the event as an important networking and feedback opportunity. 

New headway also appears to have been forged in the space. 

The news outlet noted that the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which has partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council's Rewrite the Future team, has showed a "particular openness" to eco-friendly stories. 

According to the summit's website, three of 20 projects from the 2022 event have entered the development process, while other writers have obtained representation. 

Hollywood Climate Summit co-founder Ali Weinstein hopes that more good things are on the horizon. 

"The reality is, every single person in this room has already made challenging content that is also entertaining. We turn tragedies into comedies all the time. And we're here to show you that climate can be just the same," Weinstein said in an opening statement from the summit as reported by the Times. 

"Screenwriters are visionaries with massive cultural impact. They're the right people to translate climate issues into digestible entertainment that help us navigate this global crisis with resilience, care, and creativity," Pitchfest producer Leigh Medeiros said in a media release by NBC Universal. 

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