Managing resources, protecting the environment, and responding to climate change are increasingly vital issues for motion picture theaters. Over the past years, film exhibitors have seen digitization lead to tremendous increases in energy costs. Using power, heat, and air condi- tioning more efficiently together with the use of renewables can radically reduce energy costs.
Published by the German Federal Film Board (FFA), The Green Cinema Handbook provides an overview of proven methods for reducing the consumption of resources as well as cutting costs. “The broad range of possibilities encom- passes not only small cost-neutral improvements but also significant investments in upgrades that can be offset by funding from a number of programs”, says Peter Dinges, Chairman of the FFA. “For the FFA, it‘s a natural step to present future-oriented measures to reduce energy as well as to promote economic sustainability for motion picture theaters.”
The Handbook focuses on energy efficiency, renewables, concessions, and waste management. “The Green Cinema Handbook advises exhibitors of legal requirements that must be met, environ- mentally friendly measures that can be taken, and successful practices that exhibitors have already undertaken”, says Birgit Heidsiek, FFA Green Cinema Consultant. Investments – that pay off in the medium term – in building insulation, the replacement of a central-heating boiler, or the upgrade of a ventilation system can all contribute to tremendous savings in energy costs.
The best way to achieve one-hundred percent renewables is self-generated energy. Investment in a photovoltaic system is not supported by the FFA but it ends up paying off twice for exhibi- tors: it reduces energy costs and exhibitors are compensated for solar power that they feed back into the grid. The compensation is regulated by law and was established to return investment in photovoltaic systems.
Even micro-investments can make a terrific impact. For instance, the refrigeration system for soft drinks available at the concession stand doesn’t have to run non-stop 24/7; a time switch can instead turn the fridge off during off-business hours. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s saving on energy consumption with renewables, or relying on the use of alternative products — the premise remains the same: ecology works in tandem with economics.
At the concession stand, minimizing plastic waste is of the utmost importance. Paper products are perceived as more environmentally friendly, but they often cannot be recycled. Coated cups, for example, wind up in the incinerator. And there is no system for composting bioplastics in Germany. Meanwhile, The Hamburg-based start-up company Bio-Lutions International is bringing biodegradable tableware to the market which is made of plant waste and is completely compostable.
Waste management is a legal obligation for cinema exhibitors. The amended commercial waste regulations require higher recycling quotas. There are various regulations in the European Union that have yet to be adopted nationally, as in the case of energy-efficient buildings, lighting, eco-design of electric appliances and ventilation systems, the use of renewables, drinking water quality, and the prohibition of the use of plastics as well as the recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
“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.