Into the wild

A newborn reindeer takes its first wobbly steps. It is part of a herd that is migrating hundreds of kilometers through the untouched wilderness of the Arctic Circle. Each day is an adventure just as it was for the crew of Ailo’s Journey, French director Guillaume Maidatchevsky’s feature film, which spent months following migrating herds of reindeer across frozen mountains and iced-over seas. Freezing polar nights with temperatures falling below 40 degrees Celsius required cameras specially designed for use in such extreme cold.


While filming in Lapland, the crew respected the environment as requested by the Code of Conduct created by the Finnish Lapland Film Commission. “Sustainable production is an important topic in Lapland, where we not only have unique natural locations but also a unique culture”, says Film Commissioner Anna Niemelä. “Our Code of Conduct is intended as a guideline for best practices for all film, commercial, and television productions working inside Lapland that have a significant impact on a location.”



The Code includes guidelines for filming in natural settings as well as urban environments, for depictions of community and culture; and it contains recommendations for green and sustainable filming. It is the production company’s responsibility to do no harm to the wilderness. Littering is strictly prohibited. Collection sites for metal, as well as for burnable and food waste can be found in almost every village, with multiple sites in towns and cities. But deep in the wilderness, the productions themselves are responsible for properly disposing waste material.


Sustainable filmmaking was also the subject of a Green Film Shooting seminar in Helsinki that was supported by the Finnish Film Foundation. “It was particularly gratifying that representatives from all sectors of the film industry attended, including set designers, production assistants, line producers, etc.”, says Jaana Puskala, Head of the International Department, Finnish Film Foundation. “This promises good things to come as we move forward to produce films in a more ecologically friendly manner in Finland.”


Finland’s first ever green production is slated to be launched by the Helsinki-based production company Bufo, whose credits include the 2014 Oscar entry Concrete Night by Pirjo Honkasalo as well as Aki Kaurismäki’s Berlinale Silver Bear Winner, The Other Side of Hope. Bufo’s upcoming feature film Memory of Water will be used as a case study for sustainable filmmaking. In collaboration with Aalto University, Sustainability Coordinator Kaisa Astikainen will research the implementation of sustainable practices in filmmaking, beginning with the pre-production planning phase.


The project unites the disciplines of filmmaking and environmental engineering. “Our aim is to prepare guidelines for sustainable filmmaking, which will be implemented later when the production of Memory of Water starts”, Astikainen explains. “The local conditions, like energy requirements for the cold climate, should be con- sidered when assessing sustainable practices in Finnish conditions. Our pilot project aims to create tools and guidelines that will be made available to the entire Finnish film industry.”


Photos: © MRP Matilda Rohr Productions, GFS

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