Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

Sustainable film production is still in its infancy in Germany. Green Film Shooting has interviewed Michael Geidel of the Green Film Initiative from Potsdam on how film and television productions can be realized sustainably and how money can be saved by going green.

What are the goals of the Green Film Initiative?
The Green Film Initiative is a joint project between the Climate Media Factory, an interdisciplinary media lab run by the Academy of Film and Television Konrad Wolf, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Our goal is to cooperate with the industry to create guidelines for sustainable film production. We have, for example, collaborated on the Best Practice Guide issued by the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein for the Green Shooting Card.

What are the guidelines for green film production?
That depends on the individual production. The basic principle is simple: reduce, re-use, recycle. Many of the recommendations offered in the Green Shooting Pass have already become a part of peoples’ daily lives, such as choosing a green energy provider, travelling by train rather than by airplane, sourcing products from local suppliers and recycling in order to reduce waste.

Where are the biggest potential savings in film production?
Travel and transportation carry a lot of weight. These services are usually supplied by third-party providers. Since a fleet of vehicle will be rented for a production anyway, there is no extra cost involved with the use of fuel-efficient or hybrid cars. Such measures can bring about two-digit savings in CO2 emissions.

Is there such a thing as green equipment as well?
Digital cameras can be used as well as energy-efficient lamps. TV movies are shot almost exclusively with digital equipment today, which cuts costs and reduces CO2 emissions as well. Just as in their private lives, the team is called on to act greener – for instance, by not using plastic cups. Such an act has only a minimal impact on the carbon footprint of the film but it stimulates ecological awareness.

Has sustainable production become a reality in Germany?
In contrast to England, France, or the USA, green production is not yet an issue with many film producers and television networks. The BBC has developed a clear and overt strategy that includes Albert, a CO2 calculator that computes the reduction in CO2 emissions. In France, the CO2 calculator developed by Ecoprod in 2011 has already been used in 250 productions. In the U.S., the Hollywood studios are also applying green production standards. A major studio production such as X-Men Origins generates 670 tons of waste, which can be reduced by 92 percent through recycling and re-use which, in turn, significantly reduces costs.

Photo: ©mgeidel