Studio Hamburg Produktion CEO Michael Lehmann talks about setting goals and about the future of sustainable production. The Studio Hamburg Produktions Gruppe has a knack for green production. After producing numerous TV movies, series and shows, the feature films Simpel and Die Pfefferkörner (The Pepper Corns) were awarded the Green Shooting Card by the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH).
Are feature films the most difficult undertaking in terms of green production?
I don‘t think that feature films differ much from TV movies or series. We were able to incorporate the experiences we had gotten over the past few years with these productions. In the case of Simpel, which was shot on various locations in Northern Germany in spring 2016, several team members already had green production experience under their belt. We shot Die Pfefferkörner in the South Tyrol in a nature reserve, some of it at an altitude of 3,000 meters. We had to follow strict environmental regulations governing our operations in this area. That meant we had to transport — down into the valley — all the waste that we created during the shoot on a daily basis. The team was totally behind it. I‘m delighted that we were able to keep shooting green under these difficult conditions.
Is a sustainable production inevitably more expensive?
I can‘t confirm that production costs are inevitably increasing due to green measures. It’s question of awareness because it‘s about getting experience and implementing the acquired know-how.
Is there enough know-how and equipment in Germany?
It‘s the human factor that makes a difference, as well as the will to implement green measures. It‘s about how we deal with the changes, which may be compared to a consumer in a supermarket who has to decide between disposable and returnable bottles. I‘m absolutely convinced that equipment suppliers will offer green choices if there‘s a demand for them. It comes down to the principle of supply and demand.
In order to reach expected climate goals, we have to expect that the political process will adjust the rules here and there for general environmental regulations for all industries. How can the German Film/TV industry prepare itself for this?
This will become an urgent matter that will preoccupy us more tomorrow than it already does today. The beauty of it is this: if we‘re the ones taking the initial steps, then we‘re the ones anticipating the real needs of people. An ongoing discussion of „Under what conditions should film funding be awarded?” is taking place. I‘m sure that we’re going to have to grapple with self-imposed regulations in the future. Studio Hamburg Produktions Gruppe’s advantage is that we‘re prepared for it and we can even help drive its development.
What is your goal?
Our goal is have green production become the new normal, so that we don‘t have to keep talking about it two or three years from now. In the future, the only thing that’s going to matter is innovations that will appear in this sector and how we’re going to implement them in the production process.
Interview: Bernd Jetschin
Photos: ©Universum/Gordon Timpen, Studio Hamburg/Sabine Finger, Wild Bunch/ Martin Rattini