EM SC 240N
Energy and Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Final Project Description


Throughout the semester, you have critically analyzed a number of artifacts. Now it is your turn to propose an original artifact, namely, a movie. You are a screenwriter and you are planning to propose an original movie to the studio head (me!). As budding sustainability experts well-versed in the art of rhetoric, you are perfectly suited to write a movie that appeals to a wide audience and has sustainability as a core theme. Fortunately for you, the studio head also understands sustainability and rhetoric, so can provide feedback on both counts! The movie can have any story, but must meet the following criteria:

  • This must be intended for a general audience. It does not have to be a blockbuster but must not require specialized knowledge in order to be understood.
  • It cannot be a documentary. 
  • The ability (or inability) of the earth to sustainably support life must be a central theme. It does not have to be the only theme or even the main theme, but it must play a prominent role in the movie.
  • It must be an original movie. It can be a sequel, but not one that has already been made.

You can complete this individually, or in a group. 

If you work in a group, you will all receive the same grade, and will submit one submission per group for each of the assignments. The only difference between an individual and a group assignment is that you are allowed more words for certain portions of the assignment if you work in a group.

If you work in a group, I will check in periodically to make sure that everyone is contributing sufficiently. If you do not contribute a fair share of the assignment, you may lose up to 10% of your Final Project grade. This will be done on a case-by-case basis.

Final Project Required Elements

The Final Project must have the following components for full credit. This must be single-spaced, 12 pt font, and submitted on a Word document. If your submission is longer than the prescribed length, that element's score will be reduced by 50%: You must perform your own word count and indicate the number of words in each section. Please number your proposal elements, following the system below (1-6).

  1. One paragraph (no more than 150 words for an individual, 250 for a group) overview: This MUST be a single paragraph. It should summarize the movie plot and should be written in a way that “sells” the movie, both to the studio and to the general audience. Do NOT give away the ending of the movie. Give the audience just enough information to want to watch the whole movie.
  2. No more than 1 (one) sentence each: Briefly describe each major character in the movie, e.g., important character traits and the role they play. Do not give away the plot yet.
    1. It can be fun to suggest actors/actresses for these roles! Feel free to do this, though it is not necessary. If you do, try to make it a diverse group.
  3. A few paragraphs (no more than 300 words for an individual, 500 words for a group): Summarize the movie. Describe the plot.  
    • Include at least one instance of each rhetorical strategy (ethos, pathos, logos). You will describe them below, so don't point them out - just make sure they are in there!
    • Feel free to provide some dialogue, but you do not need to.
    • Like any good movie, make sure you tell a good story! The movie should have a beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  4. One paragraph (no more than 75 words for an individual, 150 words for a group) Include an analysis of why a general audience would want to see the movie. Keep in mind that a strong sustainability theme is not enough to have a wide appeal. That will only appeal to a certain segment of the population. 
  5. One paragraph (no more than 75 words for an individual, 150 words for a group) summary of the specific sustainability message of the movie. This must meet the following criteria for full credit:
    • It must address as a MAJOR theme the ability (or inability) of the planet to sustainably provide the resources necessary to support life on earth. The movie could be set in the future, present, and/or past. Describe exactly what message the movie will present in this regard.
    • Be specific!  E.g., do not just indicate that “it is about the negative effects of climate change.”  Be specific about the cause(s) and effect(s) of the sustainability issue, e.g., what social/political/economic situations lead to climate change not being addressed, and the specific impacts that will be portrayed, etc.
  6. Two sentences each (6 sentences total): Indicate one example of each rhetorical strategy (ethos, pathos, logos) in the movie description.
    • Briefly describe why it qualifies as that strategy, making it clear that you understand what that strategy means.
    • Use bullet points for this! Each strategy is a bullet point. (E.g. first bullet could be "Pathos: It is pathos when XYZ character says "blah, blah, blah." It is pathos because it meant to elicit a feeling of sadness in the viewer.")
    • Important note: You must establish ethos with the audience. Since these are fictional movies, doing something like including a scientist in the movie will not accomplish this, because they know that the scientist is just someone playing a character. Using scientifically accurate (or seemingly accurate) language may accomplish this, though, as can a number of other things.

Note that you will also be graded on overall clarity and organization. The descriptions of each component must have a good flow and quality description. See rubrics for full grading description.

You must submit this via a Microsoft Word document.