EXCLUSIVE: As headlines around the COP28 climate change conference focus on the protracted negotiations over the final agreement, Deadline can reveal how BAFTA and albert are building on the ground for the first time, putting film and TV in spotlight and ensures that the industry is part of the conversation about the journey to net zero.
BAFTA and sustainability-focused sister org Albert’s attendance in Dubai was led by Carys Taylor. He was recently instated as the first-ever Director of Climate Content and Sustainability, with a remit in both organizations to increase the industry’s capacity for climate reporting. In his first interview in the new role, he told Deadline that the film and TV community needs to be part of the climate conversation and not watch from the sidelines.
“Our goal is to represent the industry at COP, to show that there is momentum and to explore where there are gaps,” Taylor said. “There are emerging discussions about the need for public support and information and there is a meeting with the ministers of culture. There is a growing need for the industry to weigh in on these conversations.”
At the COP, politicians and industries of various stripes are represented in force, but for most of the land, TV and film are considered entertainment and not part of the climate story. “We share a lot of things, and people are amazed — they didn’t think our industry was made like this,” Taylor said.
Located in the Blue Zone of COP28 – the space reserved for sessions, meetings, press conferences and official negotiations – BAFTA collaborated with the international sustainability agency Futerra, impact producers and consultants ThinkFilm, and the Oslo-based not-for -profit Bellona Foundation to create the Storytelling for Action pavilion.
A series of events and masterclasses span how and why to tell climate stories, highlight indigenous storytellers, and even feature Dr. Matt Winning, perhaps the world’s first climate scientist and stand-up comic. Delhi-based Pluc.tv talks to creatives about creating content with and for cellphones, which is especially important in parts of the Global South.
Creatives are increasingly interested in film and TV projects with climate themes. The Last We Started, stars Jodie Comer as a woman fleeing a natural disaster, and Deadline revealed recently that Adam McKay’s next directorial project will be climate-related. Climate storytelling has, meanwhile, permeated all areas of TV, from documentaries to entertainment. In the UK, ITV is shaping the continuity messages of the real hit Island of Lovewhile Channel 4 has primetime factual entertainment shows centered on climate and sustainability.
UK broadcasters have signed a Climate Content Pledge at COP 26 in 2021 and are increasingly willing to put industry beefs to one side and adapt their activities. Deadline understands that the top brass of the British channels are meeting to discuss climate issues.
BAFTA and albert are also working with partners around the world and have an ongoing dialogue with the US-based Climate Storytelling Stakeholders in Entertainment and others.
A growing body of research, on the other hand, dispels the idea that climate storytelling isn’t box office, or doesn’t deliver ratings. A new study commissioned for Albert and seen ahead of the publication of Deadline highlights the appetite of the audience.
The University of York study found that there is audience demand for climate content that spans genres and heightened interest when projects intersect with overlapping social issues. Focused on the UK audience, it has been noted that the interest is for local stories and content that shows solutions. The impact on real-world behavior is complex, with positive changes achievable, but often short-lived, it added.
“It’s not just about preserving news and natural history,” Taylor said. “And it’s not about dictating how the audience lives. It’s about allowing the public to participate in conversations about how to achieve net zero. It’s about mainstreaming what people need .”
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