Hollywood’s climate adviser

Years later, she worked on a documentary series that followed her while she tried to convince her father, a prominent evangelical pastor who has called on Christians to arm themselves for an inevitable war against liberals, that climate change is a reality. She failed, but the experience provided an opportunity for her to ask producers what the climate movement was doing wrong when it came to storytelling. It was the beginning of her journey into activism in the cinematic world.

Activists for other causes were already working in the industry, she later learned. There were several organizations advocating for specific story lines. Color of Change for Black people, Illuminative for Indigenous people, Define American for immigrants.

There weren’t any for climate change, though. So in 2019, Joyner created Good Energy.

The problem wasn’t that TV and film writers didn’t care. Joyner found that some would tear up when talking about their climate anxiety. But there were obstacles.

There was the lack of repertoire beyond science fiction movies and apocalyptic stories like “Interstellar,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “The Road.” Though many of those don’t mention climate change. The science also intimidated some writers. To top it off, the challenging politics of climate change made some in the industry concerned about alienating audiences.

After examining the problems, Good Energy wrote a playbook for screenplay writers. The idea is to help them accurately reflect the way climate would affect characters if their stories were taking place in the real world. Good Energy also consults on TV, film and podcast projects, but Joyner said nondisclosure agreements stop them from specifying which ones.

Joyner told me about some narratives that she would like to see more on the big and small screens. They would be stories that help us envision a future that isn’t apocalyptic, stories that deal with the uncertainty of the future, and those that portray courage by showing how communities, not heroic individuals, can change things.

“That is, you know, truly how we move things forward in the real world,” she said.

Then, there are the stories that deal with the mental health toll of climate change. They help viewers who are feeling isolated understand that they are not alone and engage, Joyner said.

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