Production and set design doesn’t necessarily require to use material which is harming the environment. „There are other options“, underlines the director/ producer and sustainability expert Philip Gassmann who continued his series of green workshops in cooperation with Filmförderung Hamburg-Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) with the subject Production and Set Design at the Hanseatische Materialverwaltung in Hamburg that is reusing and recycling props for Flim/TV and theatre productions. Besides the use of material it is also an issue where a film is shot, how the set is put together and which requirements are resulting out of it in terms of transport, construction and disposal.
According to a study by the BBC from 2014 that compared the carbon emissions of fictional formats at the production in a studio, on location as well as big studio und on location productions, the on location productions are as twice environmental unfriendly as sheer studio productions because transports and travelling are affecting the carbon foot print. The team has to get there and the material has to be brought as well. "Setting up the stage consumes much more energy than in a controlled studio environment“, explains Philip Gasmann. „These coherences must become part of our conciousness in order to act greener."
But a life cycle assement is also an economic balance. „A carbon emission intensive production is more expensive. Green production costs often less because there are savings when it comes to transports, travelling, material and fuel", underlines the filmmaker. „This should be an incentive for producers to deal more with this subject.“ Instead of investing the production budget in long-distance trips and exotic locations, he suggests, to foster stronger the creativity of the various departments as well as set design in order to create own universes with environmental friendly material.
Among the eco-friendly material which can be used for set design is a substitute for synthetic material and styrofoam which consists out of plant waste which are sprinkled with a fungus.. „In the US, this mycomaterial is already manufactured and used for components such as the padding of vehicles by the car industry or for the production of surfboards. „The material has a big potential for set design because it is water-resistant and weather-proof, not inflammable and bio-degradable."
But also bamboo is perfect for production design because it is lightweight, solid and flexible. „Weight is also a factor“, emphasizes Gassmann. In addition, bamboo is regrowing and compostable.“ As an a alternative to particle board which had been treated with formaldehyde there were work disks made out of old Tetra Paks. "The production was stopped due to only little demand for it", reports the producer. Therefore it is important to break the vicious circle of too expensive piece prices and little demand. Instead, manufacturers of green products need a feedback that there is a market for their products if they are afffordable.
„Artists want to be creative without sparing any essentiell elements.“ But meanwhile there are green alternatives for many products. For example, the company Tesa offers fabric tape that is based on regrowing material and can be used instead of the classic gaffer tape.
„The American major studios already have regulations with clear environment-friendly targets that are passed on to the productions", sums up Philip Gassmann. „The German producers can learn a lot from them."
At Green Film Shooting, the sustainability expert is going to give more handy tips and tricks for green filmmaking soon.
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.