A Climate of Change

Situated in a broad strip of woodland just outside Munich, the Bavaria Film Studios have revolutionized their energy policy. The heating system works sustainably with geothermal energy and electricity which is generated by hydropower. Not only has the studio’s infrastructure become carbon-neutral, but productions being made in the studio complex are adopting the concept as well.


"We are campaigning to make producers aware of the fact that sustainable resource management will ultimately go a long way”, explains Achim Rohnke, Managing Director of Bavaria Film GmbH. One production to benefit here is the long-running daily soap opera Sturm der Liebe (Storm of Love) that has over 20% of the audience share on daytime German public TV. Since some of the exterior sets for the series are situated on the studio lot, the cast and crew don’t have to travel.


This location advantage is reflected in the CO2 balance: The carbon footprint was reduced by 44 percent from 700t to 400t. The remaining emissions result from: vehicle use; commutes by one hundred cast and crew members; travel to outside locations; hotel accommodations; set construction; and catering. These emissions are offset through the purchase of certificates for a reforestation project in Mozambique and for a geothermal project in Indonesia,


These efforts have made Sturm der Liebe an international pioneer — it is the first daily soap opera with a net-zero carbon footprint. "Since we are shooting the twelfth season now, we have a lot of experience under our belt, which makes it easier to optimize the production process with respect to the careful use of energy and resources", reports Production Manager Peter Proske.


The eco-friendly conditions at Bavaria Studios have also appealed to star comedian Michael Bully Herbig, who chose to produce the television sitcom Bully macht Buddy there in order to heighten the TV audience’s interest for the theatrical release of his new comedy Buddy. The six-part mini-series, which Herbig recorded U.S.-style in front of a live audience, is a humorous take on the creation of his latest comedy feature Buddy, which in turn is the first major feature film to be sustainably produced in Germany.


The European action-adventure feature Big Game was also filmed in and around the Bavaria Studio complex. Jalmari Helander, best known for his Christmas shocker Rare Exports, directed the film which stars Hollywood legend Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States. During a terrorist plot to abduct him, the U.S. President crash-lands in the middle of the woods in an ejection capsule as Air Force One goes down. A teenager who was sent into the forest in a survivalist rite of passage comes to his aid.


"Bavaria is the only studio in Europe that has its own forest”, German co-producer Jens Meurer points out. The crash-landing of the ejection capsule as well as the scenes inside Air Force One and the Pentagon were filmed under carbon-neutral production conditions at Bavaria Studios. It was easy for the team to commute between sets, which proved to be an advantage both economically as well as ecologically. Achim Rohnke thinks Big Game is proof of his concept: "This is a rewarding outcome for the efforts we have invested over the past few months in consistently modernizing our studios and optimizing our services with respect to the needs of international co-productions."