In 2019, the signposts for film and TV production in Germany are all pointing to green. The efforts made by Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH), which began in 2012 with the creation of the Green Shooting Card as the first eco label for green film production in Europe, are coming to fruition. Meanwhile, not only film funds but also some broadcasters are planning green strategies. At WDR, a working group from the Broadcast Development Committee is analyzing the way work is being done as well as production processes in order to enhance eco-friendly aspects, such as the reduction of carbon emissions, environmen- tal protection, and energy-saving measures. After producing its first sustainable series and shows, Sky, as a production partner of the successful Babylon Berlin series, persuaded the other partners to go green in Season 3.
“Green production keeps gradually gaining ground”, says Christiane Dopp, who initiated the eco label at the Hamburg Film Commission in 2012. “We’re working with other institutions on a Green Shooting Card so that it can be awarded throughout Germany in the future.” Among the approximately 140 productions bearing a green label is the Berlinale competition film Systemsprenger by Nora Fingscheidt, for which Kineo Filmproduktion and Weydemann Bros. followed best practices. “On a low-budget picture, it’s also possible to save resources and work cost-effectively”, says the producer Jonas Weydemann.
Another Golden Bear contender from Hamburg is Fatih Akin’s horror movie, The Golden Glove. During the shoot, half of the crew biked to the set. For the production design, set designer Tamo Kunz used only second-hand furniture that was either sold or stored in the company’s own prop department after the production wrapped.
Sustainable production design was also integral to Tamtam Film’s Tagundnachtgleiche, which was shot in Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Hamburg. By creating four sets at one location, Production Designer Christian Strang followed a green approach: locally-sourced lumber, screws instead of nails, avoidance of environment hazardous paints and varnishes, recycling materials after wrapping production as well as making short transportation hauls. This feature film was the debut effort of Director Lena Knauss, an alumna of the Hamburg Media School (HMS). “It’s paying off because we’ve been intro- ducing film students to sustainable production ever since 2013”, says Dopp. “Meanwhile,this educational model has been adapted by other European countries.”
In order to produce films more sustainably, the technical infrastructure has to include
environmentally-friendly equipment, which in turn must be driven by demand. Film funds and broadcasters can set the course for green initiatives with incentives, restrictions, and awards. Apart from the director and producer, it’s crucial for any production to have the actors support green shooting efforts. The Hamburg-based Director Lars Jessen, who is always straight-forward in implementing green measures, wants to bring talent agencies on board, too.
“It’s my goal to convince actors, especially stars, to join us in this effort”, Jessen says. “A great model is the Swedish initiative called ‘Flygskam’. Swedish celebrities are now avoiding taking planes because they pollute the environment”. This new Swedish word means “shame of flying”, and it was chosen as word of the year in 2018.
“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.