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Celebrating Success: Hollywood Climate Summit's Pitchfest Elevating Climate Storytelling for a Sustainable Future

On March 21, the Hollywood Climate Summit presented our second annual pitch program on the Universal Studios Lot. Sponsored by NBCUniversal and in partnership with The Redford Center, the event featured round-robin style meetings between writers and Hollywood stakeholders. 

Our nonprofit’s annual program, Writing Climate: Pitchfest for TV & Film, celebrates the best unproduced climate-themed scripts in film and television by connecting writers of those scripts to Hollywood executives, producers, agents, and managers through curated one-on-one meetings. Our aim is to leverage the power of screen stories to start conversations and inspire action, including by moving climate-related projects into the development pipeline. 

This year’s program included 28 winning writers (including 4 writing teams) representing 24 projects, and 31 executives - for a total of 104 meetings. President of Universal Pictures, Peter Cramer, was there in a show of support and to introduce the invitation-only event, which was recently featured in the LA Times; columnist Sammy Roth attended the event and was able to speak with many of the participants, including Emmy-nominated writer Nicole Conlan. Following the pitch meetings, participants had the opportunity to chat informally with other writers and execs during a catered reception (with plant-based food options, of course). 

In addition to Conlan, applicants to this year’s program include Starhawk, the foremother of solarpunk; Gregory Wright, co-organizer of the 1964 Student Environmental Congress that laid the groundwork for the first Earth Day; and many early-career writers with lived climate experience. Winners from 2022’s inaugural program include the creator of Netflix’s RAISING DION Dennis Liu, and international best-selling YA author Lauren James. Winners come from across the United States and around the world, including Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and India. Executives joined from 28 different companies including NBCUniversal, Netflix, AMC, Paramount, AGBO, Skydance, UTA, Gotham Group, Fabel Entertainment, Media Res, Color Force, Minderoo Foundation, and Climate Spring. 

Work on the program begins months before the pitch event itself, and includes vetting applications from both established screenwriters and new voices, building community with Hollywood stakeholders interested in seeing the climate crisis depicted more expansively on screen, and mentorship opportunities: all winning writers participate in a pitch coaching session led by industry experts Lee Jessup, Pilar Alessandra, or Ali Weinstein. 

While the climate crisis can often seem insurmountable, the Hollywood Climate Summit’s Pitchfest reminds us that hope can be found through creativity and community. Most of the featured scripts are set in the present day or very-near future, and thus show the real challenge of working through climate issues in positive and entertaining ways. No longer confined to dystopian futures or doom and gloom disasters, the screenwriters’ climate pitches cut across genres from adventure, comedy, and children’s animation to drama, dramedy, and more. 

To learn more about how screenwriting can support climate work, and to find out about other climate storytelling programming, follow us on social media @hollywoodclimatesummit.

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