Aim of Competition
The Green Stories project supported by BAFTA Albert have launched a new competition to create a short video (up to 5 minutes) that raises awareness of the role of fictional role models in promoting sustainable lifestyles, and shines a light on how fictional characters may be implicitly promoting high carbon consumption as an aspiration.
This short video competition is open to all adults (18+) of any nationality, as long as the video is in English. Prizes of £700 will be awarded in £/$/€ equivalents.
Deadline 23rd November 2022. The deadline was previously 31st May but we received fewer entries than we had hoped with many not meeting the brief.
Entry Fee: Free
Length: We ask for a short video of between 15 seconds and 5 minutes in MP4 format (aim for file size <1GB). We encourage you to stay below 5 minutes, but will allow you to go up 6 minutes if you really need to.
Eligibility: Open to all adults (18+) of any nationality, as long as the video is in English.
Copyright: You own the copyright of your video but by entering it into the competition you are giving permission for it to be shared widely by anyone. We also need to know that you are not breaking copyright within the video so check that the images, music and text you have used are not subject to copyright.
Before you submit, check your video meets the video brief, falling into at least one of the six prize categories. As a free competition we rely on volunteer judges. Please don’t waste their time by sending very general ‘green’ videos, however wonderful they might be.
The video should be of a journalistic piece about the issue of the kinds of role models portrayed on our screens. Think of the brief as capturing the key points in this article in a short video of up to 5 minutes.
We want to encourage the industry to move away from fictional characters who are implicitly promoting high carbon consumption. In ten years, when mounting waste and climate change is impossible to ignore, we might squirm at the glorification of excessive consumption in the same way we now squirm at the casual racism and sexism in seventies sitcoms. But we don’t have ten years to waste, so let’s start the conversation now.
Your task: to create a short video – up to 5 minutes that addresses this issue. We aim to start a conversation with the video – one that asks if it is okay, in a time of climate and biodiversity crisis that many of the top series and films have characters whose lifestyles threaten our beautiful planet?
You can take a number of approaches:
You can do a fun, provocative video designed to get a conversation going. For example, you could place popular characters on a continuum of those who walk lightly on the earth and those that don’t.
Or you could do more of a ’how to’ piece with advice. For example, ‘writers, do you really need your lead character to drive a gas-guzzling car? If you want to indicate wealth and status, are there other ways to do this without implicitly promoting a lifestyle that has such a negative impact on the environment?’ Or you could show the consumption of a key character and suggest what environmental impacts result if everyone behaves that way.
Make sure you include a reference to the Green Stories Competitions. You can do this in the main video or on a final slide if you wish. You could include other similar projects such as Albert. Similarly, the ‘Flickers of the Future’ could be a useful source of inspiration for writers wanting to develop more eco-friendly characters. The Rubber Republic also create punchy videos often with an underlying message.
These different approaches are covered in our six prize categories worth £100 each (or $ equivalent) plus £100 for best overall winner. Like the Oscars, it is possible for your video to win in more than one category.
We have £700 to give away across the several categories (or dollar/euro equivalent). If you enter as a team, please decide in advance how you’d want the prize to be paid. In addition, we will list you as a Green Stories winner on our website and across our social media. Do add credits to your video for extra visibility.
Check out the video from Denise Baden, Professor of Sustainability and author of Habitat Man speaking at the Responsible Media Forum which may provide useful ideas, extracts and soundbites that you can utilise for your video.
1. Constructive (how to) video with positive examples
A constructive video with tips for writers on how to create more positive role models without compromising on the engagingness of the story or character.
For example, you could take an existing well-known TV character and suggest how he/she could be rewritten to showcase greener behaviours. For example, ‘Emily in Paris’ could use her innovative marketing skills to promote fashion apps that allow people to borrow, share, rent, swap or buy pre-loved clothes instead of implicitly promoting fast fashion.
And/or celebrate characters who act as positive role models yet are still engaging. For example, ‘Jack Reacher’ may kill people but he travels by public transport and buys second-hand clothes. ‘The Good Life’ celebrates growing your own food (1970s BBC sitcom). The BBC series, Detectorists have characters who walk lightly on the planet and appreciate the lyricism of nature while searching for treasure. Neither are overtly ‘green’, but Lance lives simply, dining on vegetable curries and Andy refuses to apply pesticides to the grass verges humming with life. Sadly, there are few examples, so you can suggest characters in books that could be taken up as TV series. A great example is the rom-com Habitat Man which is suitable for a series, or Ministry for the Future which could be a film or series.
2. Raise awareness of the negative environmental consequences of a character’s behaviour
You can refer to studies on how characters’ behaviours and attitudes can subconsciously affect viewers’ attitudes and behaviours and aspirations. Or another approach could be to describe a typical scene (e.g. hero driving gas-guzzling sports car and/or flying in a private jet) and equate that to carbon emissions and negative environmental consequences and show what would happen if just 1% of viewers aspired to such cars as a result of watching such scenes. Or show a picture of Carrie’s walk-in wardrobe (from ‘Sex in the City’, ‘And Just Like That…’) and tie in to terrifying statistics on the environmental effects of fast fashion.
3. A funny video with a light touch
Great examples for ideas on how you can get a message across in a fun way can be found on the Rubber Republic website.
4. Most provocative video
Charlie Brooker’s wipes provide examples of videos that are often both provocative and funny.
5. Be on the right side of history
How will history judge writers’ contributions to cultural values? Writers shape the discourse through the characters that viewers identify with and the story-lines they create. Might there be a backlash? Writers who create characters and TV series/films that promote excessive consumption might be the new bad guys once the dangers of climate change and waste become impossible to ignore. The video could equate high-consuming characters with characters who implicitly promote racist/sexist attitudes – and draw attention to the possibility that writers may find themselves targets as attitudes change. For example, just as actors, writers and series/films that were sexist/racist now come under attack as a result of movements such as ‘Me Too’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’, a similar anti-consumption movement may put other writers/producers under the spotlight. Perhaps you could do a spoof interview with a writer/producer or actor who now is cancelled for this reason and they can explain that they didn’t realise what they were doing was wrong but they are now very sorry and just want to be allowed to work again.
6. Best video under 2 minutes 30 seconds
Shorter videos do well on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. It’s possible to win this category as well as one or more of the others.
Focus on popular shows. For example, ‘Emily in Paris’ – she’s American, quirky and fun, works in luxury marketing and comes up with innovative ways to get people to buy the latest fad. She wears a different outfit every day – although who knows how she stores the hundreds of clothes she must have in her tiny Paris apartment. But this is a fictional world where fast fashion miraculously has no environmental impacts, doesn’t poison water supplies, and doesn’t have a carbon footprint greater than air and sea travel combined. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Emily used her amazing marketing skills to highlight all the new apps and opportunities to rent, borrow, share or buy second hand without the burden of ownership? But no, the writers are choosing to show us the same old trope of girls shopping, staggering home, swinging plastic-coated single-use bags carrying numerous items of clothing that will be worn once or twice.
Point out some positive role models too. They don’t have to be ‘greenies’ just normal people who don’t need to drive a gas guzzler or wear new outfit every day. Books too – for example there’s a whole genre of sex and shopping novels promoting excessive consumption as an aspiration, but there are also books such as Habitat Man, which is contemporary fiction, or Green Rising a fantasy aimed at young adults which have positive role models.
Include initiatives that are trying to address this e.g. the Green Stories Writing competitions encourage writers to adopt positive role models and embed green solutions in stories aimed at a mainstream audience. The ALBERT project run by BAFTA works with creative industries to produce more sustainable content both in the writing and production.
Feel free to reference research or use soundbites from experts or celebrities (make sure to check permissions). To assist with this, you are free to use extracts from the session that took place during COP 26 called Project Everyone: Code Red for Climate Storytelling which talks about the role of culture in the climate crisis. The section between 7 and 13 minutes in shows Richard Curtis CBE, known for films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually talking on the importance of culture in the climate crisis.
Also check out the video below from Denise Baden, Professor of Sustainability and author of Habitat Man which may provide useful ideas, extracts and soundbites that you can utilise for your video.
Governments can regulate and businesses can design greener products, but the over-consumption at the heart of our climate and biodiversity crisis is predominantly a cultural issue. Research suggests that role models can affect behaviour, often on an unconscious level, for better or worse. We want your video to call for heroes and fictional role models who walk more lightly on our planet.
It is up to you if you want to include credits as part of the video itself. If you do and you are one of the finalists, then this is a great opportunity to raise your profile and get your name(s) out there. But the video is designed to start a conversation, so be aware that you might find yourself part of that, and not everyone will agree! If you choose not to add your credits to the video itself, we will acknowledge those involved on our Green Stories website and send out finalist/winners’ certificates, so there will be a record of your success to add to your show reel and CV. If you are a finalist, we will double check your preferences with respect to credits before we share the videos.
We will promote the best videos across all our contacts and organisations that support the Green Stories project across the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They in turn will share the videos they like best across their networks. For example, we will share our favourite videos with BAFTA, ALBERT, the BBC, Climate Spring, Futerra, NAWE, the Transition Group, Forum for the Future, The Rubber Republic etc. all of whom have large networks. You are also encouraged to share across your networks. For some categories, we will seek feedback from relevant audiences. For example, we will seek feedback from writers/producers for the categories ‘Backlash against writers’ and ‘constructive video’ on which video is most effective in shifting their approach.
The judging panel includes judges from the Green Stories Project, BAFTA, ALBERT and Rubber Republic (who specialise in viral videos.) The panel will meet after approximately three months and consider which videos in each category have had the most positive impact (e.g. in terms of number of views, positive engagements, feedback from target audiences). N.B. If we notice any cheating (Autobots etc.) entrants will be disqualified.