Master Classes are in-depth, interactive learning experiences focused on craft and career building and led by renowned industry experts. Topics include fiction and documentary filmmaking, TV writing and production, and navigating and succeeding in the entertainment industry.

“Hope is taking action.” – Greta Thunberg, climate activist

Forest fires, drought, record-breaking heat, sea-level rise, hurricanes… The effects of climate change impact us on a daily basis, and more than two-thirds of American audiences want to see these stories on screen. However, a recent study found that less than 0.56% of scripted TV and film mention the term ‘climate change.’ In this Master Class, you will learn to activate your storytelling to address this existential crisis.

Led by writer, consultant, activist, and educator Jessie Keyt, Changing the Narrative: Climate Representation in Film and TV will introduce you to the multiple sub-genres of climate storytelling (e.g., cli-fi, indigenous knowledge, ecodramas), discuss the differences between writing for film and television, and expose you to a variety of formats, from shorts to features. You’ll learn to tell stories that can engage wider audiences by thinking about the spectrum of climate representation, incorporating humor into your storytelling, and examining how structural forms impact your climate message. Storytelling is one of our most powerful tools; this course will help all screenwriters understand how to wield this tool effectively as it relates to our environment.

Topics covered include:

  • 00:00 - 01:20: Welcome and introduction from Sundance Collab
  • 01:20 - 04:50: Introduction from Jessie
  • 04:50 - 06:30: Exercise: Identify an example of climate impact in your immediate surroundings and briefly write about it
  • 06:30 - 12:30: The Disaster Genre
  • 12:30 - 20:43: The Apocalyptic / Dystopian Story
  • 20:43 - 29:06: The Ecoanxiety Story
  • 29:06 - 37:20: Sci-Fi (Cli-Fi)
  • 37:20 - 39:37: The Fantasy Genre
  • 39:37 - 48:29: Indigenous Knowledge
  • 48:29 - 59:15: Climate Activism
  • 59:15 - 1:00:55: Summation
  • 1:00:55 - 1:07:30: Q&A 1
  • 1:07:30 - 1:08:32: Exercise: Using one of the subgenres we discussed, brainstorm a few angles you could take into the topic you identified in exercise 1
  • 1:08:32 - 1:33:20: Principles of Climate Representation Irrespective of Genre
  • 1:33:20 - 1:39:57: Finding Form: Film vs Episodic
  • 1:39:57 - 1:48:52: Finding Form: Short vs Feature
  • 1:48:52 - 1:50:52: Climate Justice
  • 1:50:52 - 1:52:04: Exercise: Brainstorm the future you want to see: What does it look like, smell like, sound like, what are its value systems, what is the system of labor, how do we get around, what is our food source? What are our cultural institutions? When does it take place? Look at the climate story you mapped out. Now, adjust it so that it includes some of these ideas of the future you want to see
  • 1:52:04 - 1:53:25: Community
  • 1:53:25 - 1:57:48: Final Q&A
  • 1:57:48 - 1:58:45: Next steps
  • 1:58:45 - 2:02:43: Wrap up and final announcements from Sundance Collab

Download Recommended Resources

Jessie Keyt is a writer and consultant for writers, filmmakers, and production companies in the US, UK, Europe, and India. Clients have included Working Title, Nickelodeon, 9 Story Media, Alicia Keys, Cine Qua Non Film Lab, and Amplifier Fellowship (Film Independent/Netflix). more...

Join the Discussion