2024 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship

The Black List has partnered with NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Rewrite the Future program, The Redford Center, and The CAA Foundation to launch a second iteration of the NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship.

The deadline for this program is November 27, 2023.

In order to submit for this program, you must be logged into the Black List website. If you do not already have a script hosted, you must be ready to upload one during the submission process.
The Black List is thrilled to announce that it has partnered with NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Rewrite the Future program, The Redford Center, and The CAA Foundation to launch the third annual NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship.
The Fellowship will grant $20,000 each to three writers to support revision of a feature screenplay or pilot that engages with climate change in a compelling way through events, actions, character, emotions, plot, and/or setting.
In addition, NRDC will connect each fellowship recipient with the following professionals for feedback and guidance on their scripts:
  • A credited professional screenwriter with an interest in climate storytelling
  • A climate story consultant from NRDC’s Rewrite the Future program to advise on effective approaches to climate storytelling that are entertaining and impactful
  • As applicable, one or more NRDC experts to advise on climate issues highlighted in the script.
  • After receiving these consultations, Fellows have six (6) months to complete a revision of their script.  Revised scripts may be reviewed for development by prominent studios, agencies and/or production companies including Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Hyperobject Industries, NBCUniversal, Participant, United Talent Agency (UTA) and WME among others. *Scripts will not be shared until the conclusion of the ongoing writer’s strike.
  • At the end of the Fellowship, each recipient will provide NRDC with a short reflection of how the fellowship has advanced their work and/or career in addition to a revised version of their script including an overview of the changes they made during the revision process.
Writers who opt-in with a qualified screenplay or pilot will receive one free month of hosting and one free evaluation. To be considered for the fellowship, a script should engage with climate through events, actions, characters, emotions, plot, and/or setting. If you meet these criteria when you opt-in, you will receive a notification. Fee waivers must be requested no later than November 27, 2023.
Writers who are interested in submitting to the 2024 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship may do so below. Please note that submissions will only be accepted if the writer also includes a short description of how their script qualifies as a climate story. Qualified screenplays and pilots will receive a fee waiver for one free month of hosting and one free evaluation once their submissions are accepted. Qualified screenplays will automatically be opted into consideration for the program once they are accepted.
Each fellowship recipient will retain complete ownership of their work.
The script can be in any genre, but climate change and solutions must influence action and/or impact characters.
Climate storytelling highlights the ways that climate change affects characters, influences choices, and/or drives action.  A climate story acknowledges that we already live in a climate-altered world and are grappling with the impacts to our homes, health, communities, and jobs. The Black List would love to see stories that highlight communities most impacted by the climate crisis and/or stories that feature characters and communities working toward solutions.
We worry about climate change. We feel shame and grief about it. We talk about it with our partners and friends. People discuss whether it makes sense to have children, or wonder where the safest place is to live, or what they can possibly do to help.
Climate can be a central factor in motivating characters and driving plot. The story and genre options are limitless because climate can touch every aspect of life, from food, health, and relationships to justice, jobs, and national security.
There have been few climate stories in mainstream entertainment, especially considering the scale of the crisis. Many depict extreme weather disasters, societal breakdown, and apocalypse. That dark and narrow vision is understandable, and it can be entertaining, but if all the climate stories we see show characters stuck in despair, or in dystopian futures, it reinforces the view that there’s no way out. It also overlooks the enormous potential for original content that illuminates the more complex and nuanced human reality of the climate crisis, including stories about people fighting for a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future.
The Black List needs it all–the bleak and the inspirational, the fantasies, dramas, satires, and rom-coms. It is the power and privilege of writers to show us how climate change is transforming our world, and to help us find a path to salvation.  This program aims to support well-told stories with climate themes that entertain viewers and allow them to engage with the range of emotions caused by the climate crisis. The general frame is that if a story works artistically, it’s a great way to approach climate and we hope that submitted scripts continue to reflect a diversity of characters, settings, and tones.
The Black List encourages you to clearly highlight your script’s climate connection in your submission materials, as only qualifying scripts will receive a script waiver.
Note: For TV pilot submissions, applicants who make the shortlist must also provide a long synopsis or treatment describing the primary story arcs and how the climate themes will be developed throughout the show.
Writers who meet the submission requirements will be able to opt into consideration via the Black List website until midnight on November 27, 2023. All qualifying scripts submitted before the deadline will receive one free script evaluation and one free month of hosting for their scripts. Based on the strength of their scripts as determined by the Black List’s script evaluations, a long list will be invited to submit a one-page personal statement and professional resume. From there, a shortlist will be determined. Writers who make the shortlist may be asked to conduct a short interview and three fellowship recipients will be selected no later than April 15, 2024.
  • Scripts that have been previously reviewed on The Black List
  • Scripts by international writers
  • Scripts of any genre (as long as they include climate!)
  • Pilots for episodic series or feature scripts
  • Adapted work, although we recommend securing an option or permission for the original material
  • Content created as part of a commercial campaign
  • Incomplete scripts—please upload a completed draft of an original feature film script or pilot teleplay
  • Stage plays or musical scripts
  • Novels
  • Rewrite the Future: Learn more about Rewrite the Future, NRDC’s initiative to help Hollywood take on the climate crisis. Watch their Sundance panels (presented by NRDC and the Black List) for tips and resources to guide your writing.
  • Sustainability Onscreen Tipsheet: This tipsheet offers a wide array of options for creators and producers interested in representing climate and sustainability onscreen.
  • Green Production Guide Creative Resources: The PGA and Sustainable Production Alliance have a variety of creative tools available on the Green Production Guide site.
  • ALBERT Editorial Toolkit: The team at BAFTA’s albert program has put together a comprehensive creative guide on how to incorporate climate and environmental stories into content.
If you are new to the Black List, register for a FREE account by clicking here. Once you are logged in, you will be able to apply for a Fee Waiver and submit your script. If you have any questions, please check out the Black List FAQ or email them at [email protected].
To stay apprised of upcoming events and opportunities offered by Rewrite the Future, please reach out to [email protected] to join their mailing list.
  • The script can be any genre but climate change and solutions must be a main driver of the action and affect important choices made by characters.

  • The climate crisis intersects with a wide variety of topics so a successful climate script could incorporate impacts and/or solutions in many areas:

    • Stories that personalize climate issues like environmental racism and climate injustice, climate disruption of food, water, public health, war/national security, natural disasters, corporate malfeasance, immigration, political scandal, conspicuous consumption, deforestation, wildlife and wilderness, pollution, sea-level rise, and other regional effects.

    • Stories that show the impacts of the climate crisis on people and communities, disproportionate effects on BIPOC frontline communities; personal impacts on relationships, emotions/psychology, romance, family planning, jobs, and career choices; facing the ethical dilemmas of a fossil fuel economy; becoming part of the solution through personal/community/political action, education, politics and journalism, activism, etc.

    • Stories that feature people discovering and engaging in climate solutions, including, “green” innovations in farming and food, public health, law and policy, energy, transportation, science and high-tech, business and finance, building and product design, waste management, circular economy, community-based innovation like greening neighborhoods, food justice, urban farms, etc.

    • Stories about thought and action leaders meeting the immense challenge of solving the crisis and transitioning to a just, equitable, decarbonized economy.

    • Stories that show alternative futures, beyond the cliches of climate disaster/dystopia. 

    • Scripts that highlight a new perspective on the human relationship with the planet that:

      • Engenders hope and illustrates solutions

      • Addresses human agency

      • Revises the relationship of “taking from” or carelessly destroying ecosystems to “caretaking,” or sustaining ecosystems

  •  You must submit an original feature film script or pilot teleplay relating to climate change on www.blcklst.com for at least one week during the Program Submission Period and affirmatively opt-in to the Program Submission Call.

  • You must agree to (1) these Submission Requirements, (2) all terms relating to the Program posted on the Site, which you should review and read in full, and (3) the Submission Agreement, which governs the submission of your script to Company and Black List. The Submission Agreement includes important, legally binding terms and conditions, including arbitration of any disputes, which you must read in full before accepting.

  • If requested, you must submit by a date determined by Company the following materials, which are also governed by the Submission Agreement:

    • A resume and biography;

    • Contact and other personal information;

    • Executed originals of the Submission Agreement; and

    • For TV pilot submissions, a long synopsis or treatment describing the primary story arcs and how the climate themes will be developed throughout the show.

  • If selected by Company, you will agree to enter into an agreement with Company (or a WGA-signatory entity affiliated with Company) to provide support in connection with your script.

  • You must be at least 18 years of age and not a minor in the state or country of your residence at time of submission.

  • If the script is written by a team consisting of one or more writers, (i) each member of that writing team must comply with these Submission Requirements, including agreeing to the Submission Agreement described below, and (ii) all members of the writing team must opt-out of the Program if any other member becomes ineligible (including as a result of failing to timely agree to the Submission Agreement or failing to timely provide the materials listed above).

  • The script must be wholly original to you and you must be the sole owner of all rights. The script must not in any way infringe upon the copyright of any person or entity or, to the best of your knowledge in the exercise of reasonable prudence, constitute libel, defamation or invasion of privacy or any other rights of any third party. You understand and agree that Company will share any information that you provide in connection with the Program with Black List.