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2022 pitchfest

NBCUniversal Presents: "Writing Climate: Pitchfest for TV and Film" is on a mission to cultivate climate content by amplifying writers who have found innovative ways to expand the idea of what a climate story is. After a thorough judging process, 20 emerging and established writers were chosen from a global pool of applicants to have their climate story ideas heard by development execs, managers, and agents at this year’s Hollywood Climate Summit. Each writer will have 8 ten-minute, one-on-one pitch sessions in an exciting and impactful round robin style event.

winners

Dahn Elle Dior Ballard
Dahn Elle Dior Ballard

CLEO Dahn Ballard is an actor and writer who believes in the transportive power of stories to inspire, thrill and expand the minds of those watching. She is obsessed with the idea of latent powers, corruption, greed, and what you will do for love. She tells stories that center on women of color awakening to their superpowers and setting the world ablaze with this newfound strength.

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Rimi Barnali Chatterjee
Rimi Barnali Chatterjee

ANTISENSE: CLIMATE TOWN Rimi Barnali Chatterjee is a writer and academic based in Kolkata, India, working on the Antisense Universe storyworld, a parallel-future civilisational redesign. She is the author of three novels - Black Light (New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2010), The City of Love (New Delhi: Penguin, 2007), and Signal Red (New Delhi: Penguin, 2005) - and an academic history book, Empires of the Mind: A History of the Oxford University Press in India During the Raj.

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Lauren Ferebee
Lauren Ferebee

LIVING CITY Lauren Ferebee’s climate-focused play GOODS, which premiered virtually with Chicago's Artemisia Theatre in 2021, was dubbed "the best kind of science fiction" (Chicago Onstage), won a 2021 Kennedy Center award, and will have its 2nd production in 2023 with Trustus Theatre. A recent MFA playwriting graduate (University of Arkansas), she is also an alumna of the New Harmony Project, a past fellow with Saltonstall, Kimmel Harding Nelson, HUB-BUB, and a Princess Grace finalist.

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Illimani Ferreira
Illimani Ferreira

TROPICAL ICE Illimani Ferreira is a Brazilian writer living in Oregon. His short prose can be found in the Unidentified Funny Object anthology, Hybrid Fiction, New Myths, and other publications. His humorous science fiction novel Terminal 3 was released during the height of a certain worldwide plague. His screenplay DISTANT STARS is performing quite decently in the screenwriting arena and is available for sale in case you are a movie producer looking for the next DUNE, but sadder and gayer.

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Michael Graf
Michael Graf

PICKET CHARLIE Michael Graf got his first job in Hollywood because of an earthquake. He got his second job in Hollywood because of a klutz move at a salad bar. He’s now a member of the DGA, a produced screenwriter, Super Bowl commercial director, an Emmy winner, and a “Top 25 Screenwriter” by the ISA. He also has two Top 1% scripts on Coverfly's Red List. He is still prone to occasional klutz moves, but is grateful for every opportunity to tell a good story.

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Alex Haney
Alex Haney

THE INVENTION OF REALITY Alex Haney is a writer and director drawn to genre-bending stories about misfits, rebels, and adventurers. His short films have gone to 50+ film festivals and won over two dozen awards including a Wonderland Award from the Lewis Carroll Society of North America and Best Family Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Raised in a multicultural family, he is passionate about stories and characters through which we find commonality in spite of our differences.

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Tracy Held
Tracy Held

SCIENCE FAIR THE MUSICAL Tracy Held (she/they) is an award-winning, multi-racial Chinese/Eastern European American writer for stage and screen with a background in nonprofit fundraising and conservation science. A do-gooder with a heart of puns, she writes like Rachel Bloom on PBS. Winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Screenwriting Award, Tracy has a BS in Conservation and Resource Studies from UC, Berkeley and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon.

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Ben Hickernell
Ben Hickernell

LOST TIME Ben Hickernell is a writer and director whose films have played SXSW & Seattle International Film Festival, been distributed by WB, MGM, Showtime, and 20th Century Studios, and received good reviews in the NY Times and Variety. Ben works to tell moving, entertaining stories that illuminate human-level perspectives on the issues of our day. He treats his collaborators with integrity, and comes to production with an experienced indie filmmaker's practical ingenuity.

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Joseph Hushek
Joseph Hushek

CYGNUS 1 Joseph Hushek is an emerging screenwriter who grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. As the son of an artist and an engineer, he has always loved using heartfelt, informative, and engaging stories to prompt introspection and inspire action. He now works in Current Programming at CBS, helping tell stories that reach millions.

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Lauren James
Lauren James

GREEN RISING Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including The Quiet at the End of the World and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor, and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide in seven languages.

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Morgan Lariah
Morgan Lariah

WE ARE EACH OTHER'S Morgan Lariah is fueled by a desire to create stories about other worlds while hoping to inspire change in order to preserve the one we have. She has been a semifinalist for the Austin Film Festival, a second rounder for the Sundance/YouTube New Voice Lab, and a quarterfinalist for the PAGE awards among others. Her short film, 2-STAR, and feature film, 5th PASSENGER can be watched on Amazon.

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Dennis Liu
Dennis Liu

ELINA AND THE LIGHT Dennis Liu is a graduate of The Taft School and Tisch School of the Arts with a major in film. He is a screenwriter, film director, editor, and VFX artist who has directed dozens of commercials and music videos, as well as episodic television shows. He is also the creator of RAISING DION, a 1 hour sci-fi drama that aired two seasons on Netflix.

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Roma Murphy
Roma Murphy

IMANI'S GARDEN Roma Murphy is a comedy writer who wants to make the world a better place but will settle for not making it worse. She graduated USC's screenwriting BFA in 2020, and since then has participated in three TV fellowships, written for an assortment of wacky digital media companies, and now works in children's television. She can't wait to get to know you!

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Christine Sanders
Christine Sanders

MAUKALA Christine Sanders is a writer/producer based in Los Angeles, CA. She is currently an Executive Producer at BuzzFeed and has held creative roles at MTV, The Wall Street Journal, and Food Network. She is a Biennale College Cinema finalist (the Venice Film Festival's Film Lab), a San Francisco Film Society Rainin Grant recipient, and Webby Award winner for her previous work.

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Alice Stanley Jr.
Alice Stanley Jr.

MEAT CUTE Alice Stanley Jr. writes dark bubblegum. Her film/TV credits include: MOXIE (onset writer, dir. Amy Poehler), BUSY TONIGHT (writer, EP Tina Fey), BARBIE CAMP SISTER SWITCH (writer, prod. Mattel), THE 2020 GLAAD AWARDS (creative consultant, prod. GLAAD). Her first feature sale, a girly thriller, is in pre-production with Invisible Narratives. Other keywords include: Second City alum, climate activist, bi, proud former Chicago Public Schools teacher, proud current pastry-goblin.

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Liz Stephens
Liz Stephens

JOSHUA TREE Liz Stephens is a mixed native queer member of the Choctaw nation, from a tiny sailing town where Dungeons and Dragons was invented. She writes about these and other outsiders in all of her work, borderlands of drought, sundowner towns, and the economics of people who fall through the cracks. But in a funny way. An award-winning author in memoir and nonfiction, Stephens is both a former professor and Hollywood stripper.

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Paloma Urrutia & Rhoda Wainwright
Paloma Urrutia & Rhoda Wainwright

WIKINGER 7-13 Paloma Urrutia & Rhoda Wainwright are a writing duo who co-created the Dante Movement. They have been working since 2018 on the ecological transition of the audiovisual sector. Paloma is a psychologist, sustainability professional, partnerships specialist, activist, mother, and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in Sustainable Development. Rhoda is a writer, director, and sustainability consultant with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry.

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Diana Wright
Diana Wright

TRASHED Diana Wright is a Los Angeles native and comedy writer born to a Nobel prize winning astrophysicist and a weapons designer for the government so, of course, comedy comes naturally to her. She has sold a show to Amazon Studios, won multiple competitions, and writes in the gaming and podcast space. She loves collaborating with other writers in a room and hates single use plastic.

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Quentin Yung
Quentin Yung

ONE DEGREE CELSIUS Quentin Yung is an emerging screenwriter. He worked in the writers’ room of an Australian-Chinese television co-production currently in development. Quentin wrote and created the children's comic book THE WIZARD OF O2, and is currently working on a young adult graphic novel titled DREAMSTORMER. Formerly an environmental engineer, Quentin has literary representation in Australia.

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Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

WABANAKI BLUES Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel is an award-winning playwright, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter who also serves as the official Medicine Woman of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut. She has published many books including the historical biography, Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon, and the futuristic novel Oracles. Her work brings to life the oft-forgotten joys, challenges, humor and traditions of indigenous people of America's Northeast Woodlands.

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semifinalists

Gabriele Almon

Adam Chad Brody & Clayton Long

Rachael Burke

Anna Casadei & Mark Casadei

Emily Louise Carr

Max Castillo & Kat Barnette

Shaan Dasani

Patrick Dorsey

Robin Fusco

Christopher Gibbon

Nikki Groton

Rebecca Halfon

Church Lieu

Dan Linehan

Sarafina Ludlow

Kyle Naftel

Eric Salinas Nebel

Joshua Ravenwood

Kate Sheffield

Lynn Vincentnathan

Pamela Winfrey

Georgia Wright

judges

Layel Camargo
Layel Camargo

Co-Founder at Shelterwood Collective Layel Camargo is a descendent of the Yaqui and Yoreme/Mayo tribes of the Sonoran Desert. They are a cultural strategist, land steward, filmmaker, and artist. Layel, a transgender and non-binary person, have spent the last decade advancing climate justice through storytelling. Layel was the Impact Producer for “The North Pole Show” with Rosario Dawson. They currently produce and host “Did We Go Too Far,” a podcast with Movement Generation.

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Maya Rose Dittloff
Maya Rose Dittloff

Screenwriter, Indigenous Rights Activist Maya Rose Dittloff (Many Pipes Woman) is a Mandan, Hidatsa, and Blackfeet writer, director, and producer across film and television. She was trained at UCLA in the School of Theater, Film and Television, and in 2019 served as a Fellow with the LA Skins Fest Feature Writing Lab. Most recently, she worked as a staff writer for AMC/AMC+. Beyond filmmaking pursuits, she has long been involved both locally and nationally in Indigenous Rights activism.

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Julian Etienne
Julian Etienne

Climate Story Fund Officer at Doc Society Julian is a cultural campaigner from northeastern Mexico committed to diversity in documentary cinema and to fostering transformative encounters between media and the public. At Doc Society he works as Climate Story Fund Officer. He has undertaken film programming projects since 2009. He joined Ambulante in 2018 where he was involved in programming, outreach, impact, and fund-raising activities.

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Daniel Hinerfeld
Daniel Hinerfeld

NRDC's Rewrite the Future Daniel Hinerfeld, an Emmy-winning filmmaker and award-winning journalist, He founded NRDC's documentary film unit. Daniel previously worked at NPR, KCRW and KQED. He co-created the nationally syndicated political analysis show, Left, Right, and Center, was the Senior Editor of the Tavis Smiley Show, and reported regularly for the NPR news shows All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

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Princess Daazhraii Johnson
Princess Daazhraii Johnson

Creative Producer & Screenwriter of MOLLY OF DENALI Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neet'saii Gwich'in) is a writer/director/actor/producer and is committed to helping to build capacity for other Alaska Native filmmakers and telling climate justice stories through an Indigenous lens. She is on the board of Native Movement, NDN Collective and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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Anna Jane Joyner
Anna Jane Joyner

Founder and Director at Good Energy Anna Jane Joyner is a climate story consultant. With over fifteen years of experience in climate communications, she is driven by a passion for storytelling - and helping people find courage in the face of climate change. Anna Jane has worked relentlessly to establish bridges between artists, musicians, faith communities, Southerners, young audiences, and the climate movement.

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Lynn Renee Maxcy
Lynn Renee Maxcy

Writer/Producer Lynn Renee Maxcy focuses on new forms of storytelling in grounded sci-fi and speculative fiction - particularly in future worlds where no matter how dark it seems, there is always hope. She is most known for her writing on Seasons 1-3 of Hulu's Emmy-winning series The Handmaid's Tale (for which she won two Writers Guild Awards), the upcoming Imagine/IMAX feature MARS 2080 and the branching narrative featureTHE COMPLEX.

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Alex Schwartz
Alex Schwartz

Studio Executive at Sony Pictures Animation Alex Schwartz has been a studio executive and film producer for over 25 years. Her movies have crossed all genres with a particular focus on high concept family films in live action, hybrid and CGI animation. She just completed production on BLAZING SAMURAI which is set be released By Paramount in 2022 and is producing an unannounced feature for Sony Pictures Animation.

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Cheryl Slean
Cheryl Slean

Manager of Sustainability and Storytelling at Netflix Cheryl Slean is a climate communicator, playwright and filmmaker with a diverse academic background in physics, literature and sustainability. She’s taught creative writing at several universities and started a production company specializing in narrative strategies for educational media. She co-founded Rewrite the Future, a climate storytelling in entertainment initiative at NRDC.

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Christopher Sparling
Christopher Sparling

Screenwriter of GREENLAND Chris Sparling wrote the 2010 film BURIED starring Ryan Reynolds, for which he won "Best Original Screenplay" from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and Spain's Goya Award. THE SEA OF TREES, which he wrote and produced - was nominated for the Palm d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24. He most recently wrote and produced the 2021 Netflix film INTRUSION, and the Phillip Noyce directed film THE DESPERATE HOUR starring Naomi Watts.

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Kim-Marie Walker
Kim-Marie Walker

Writer, Geoscientist Kim-Marie Walker writes non-fiction and fiction, and formerly worked as a remote sensing geoscientist analyzing satellite and airborne earth imagery for energy and environmental applications. In 2016, she went on a solo pilgrimage to 20 of America’s 50 historic transatlantic slave ports.

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Jaimie Woo
Jaimie Woo

Senior Director of Development at Culture House Media Culture House Media is a Black, Brown, and Women-owned premium production company for film & television and a robust cultural consultancy. In her role, she leads the company's premium documentary and unscripted slate. She also serves as lead consultant within Culture House's consultancy. She serves on the board of Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society (JHRTS) and is a founding board member of Young Entertainment Activists (YEA).

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mentors

Pilar Alessandra
Pilar Alessandra

Director of Screenwriting and TV Writing Program On the Page® Pilar Alessandra is the host of the On the Page Podcast and a highly sought-after speaker and script consultant who’s trained writers at Disney, DreamWorks, ABC, the AFM and around the world. She is also the author of The Coffee Break Screenwriter and The Coffee Break Screenwriter Breaks the Rules. Pilar’s greatest accomplishment is the success of her students.

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Lee Jessup
Lee Jessup

Career Coach for Professional & Emerging Screenwriters Lee Jessup specializes in guiding emerging and professional scribes toward long-standing and prolific screenwriting careers in both TV and feature writing. She has also provided consulting services to NBC International, and the Universal Writers Program. Her coaching clients include everyone from showrunners and studio writers to contest winners and TV writing fellows to writers just starting out.

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Ali Weinstein
Ali Weinstein

TV Writer, Co-Founder + EP of the Hollywood Climate Summit Ali Weinstein is a queer TV writer and climate activist, currently working as the Showrunner’s Assistant on “Orphan Black: Echoes.” She was previously the Writer’s Assistant on NBC’s “Law & Order: For the Defense” and Netflix’s “Glamorous.” She co-founded the Hollywood Climate Summit in 2020--this year, she is the Co-Director of Pitchfest and a Founding Member of Climate Ambassadors Network.

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