The IMAX 3D documentary A Beautiful Planet shows the earth as a very fragile, beautiful place that is more or less a spaceship that is travelling around the galaxy. The film was shot by astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) who received filming instructions from American DoP James L. Neihouse who is an expert for underwater shots and filmining in space since forty years.
While the very fragile, beautiful earth is travelling around the galax, the space station is a spaceship traveling around the earth. "So we draw that analogy", points out James L. Neihouse. "It has taken years and years and billions of dollars to build a spaceship that will handle six people, to keep them in orbit alive and we always have to sent stuff up to them. Here we are on a planet that is basically the same type of spaceship except we got six, seven billion people and we don’t get resupply missions, we are on our own." The film also shows the impact of humans: "The air pollution above China and other parts of the world, deforestation in South America, we talk about the water crisis in the Western U.S., the glacier melt in Greenland. We look at this and say there are ways that we can fix this but we all have to work together. We have to be crew members of this space ship rather than passengers. We all gotta work together."
For a sequence in A Beautiful Planet that shows Mars, the production used one of the very first IMAX aerial shots that were ever made. "It is a fine shot over a lake and over an island and as we are flying over the island, we convert planet earth to look like Mars. It is what happened if we lost our water on earth. Here is when we turn into Mars and then we look at Mars. In the last part, we are looking out there what else is in this galaxy what might be suitable for habitation. And one of the planets we are looking at is Kepler 168 F which is an earth-size planet around a star called Kepler 168. It is in the right place in its orbit to have liquid water. That is one of the big signs they use for possible life elsewhere. We kind of do a flight out to Kepler 168 and pose the question: ‘Could that be another earth?’ But it is 500 light years away, so we could never get there."
For A Beautifiul Planet, the astronauts shot over a quarter million of still images. "It was about 11,5 terabytes of data we shot for the film. The original plan was that the 4k data would fly down on Space X which is the only cargo vehicle that returns. We got a couple of flights back with those drives on it but in the summer of 2015 SpaceX had a launch failure and blew up about a minute in the flight. So they quit launching it about nine months. We had to figure out how to get the data out of this into a computer and down."
"We worked with codecs in a system that they had never intended the system to be used, we basically plugged the codecs recorder into a computer via an ethernet cable and frame at a time got the files off the hard drive. It took about a second a frame to bring them down to make that transfer. Eventually, we brought 1.5 terabyte of 4K data down that way. It took six weeks to do it." If the crew hadn’t done that, the production wouldn’t have got the 4K data back to do the editing on time since SpaceX didn’t fly anymore. This was one of this moments where the astronauts were saying: "Houston, we do have a problem here.”
“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.