Green Screens: Making films in a greener way

There is a movement afoot to make films in a greener, more sustainable way. It is great to make films about environmental/sustainability topics, but are we making them in a less harmful manner? And what about films that are not about environmental subjects: can’t they nonetheless aim to be made in a more sustainable way? Sure they can!

Read what we did at Living Lightly Productions to make the film Powerful: Energy for Everyone in a “greener” way. Then tell us what you are doing, or share some anecdotes about greening your production.

A commitment to “living lightly” is the core philosophy and a standard practice of Living Lightly Productions and all my creative and business activity. I take this approach to every type of decision or choice, including the production of Powerful: Energy for Everyone.

The Greening of Powerful

Our goal was to produce the film in as green a manner as possible, at every stage of the film, from production through post-production, marketing and sales. A very important sub-goal was to use renewable energy wherever possible.

The most demonstrable accomplishment was in making an “international” film with only seven legs of air travel, and with very limited use of a standard gas-burning private car.

Steps Toward Greener Travel

–      Selecting my film subjects and locations so as to minimize the need for long-distance travel and so as to keep airplane travel to a minimum. Two long-distance trips were required.

o      Within Europe, wherever feasible, train travel was selected over plane travel. Most of my location shooting travel was done by train, streetcar, bicycle and on foot.

o      On my California- B.C. road trip, I joined up with bio-diesel advocate Adam Kreek for a “bio-diesel road trip” in his bio-diesel car named Helmut. We used recycled vegetable oil biodiesel for every fill-up but one. This journey makes for a humorous and educationsl segment of the film.

–      Choosing accommodation that included green hotels, B&Bs or “couch surfing” for environmental and financial reasons;

–      Making maximum use of buses, bicycles and walking in pre-production and post-production in Ottawa;

–      Showing my travel choices in the film (train, bio-diesel car, bicycle shots, etc.), whether through maps, graphics or on-camera scenes of me boarding trains/trams, using a bicycle, etc.

–      Choosing not to travel to festivals or screenings where air travel is required. I frequently use Skype to “attend” film screenings virtually, allowing me to introduce the film and participate in post-screening discussions. (I recently did this for screenings in Victoria and Prince George, BC).

Greener Food choices

I choose sustainable foods (local, fair trade  and/or organic) wherever possible, both for myself and for my crew. This often proves difficult for out of town shoots, but was possible for most of the European locations, California, BC and Ontario shoots such as in Kingston, ON.

Greener Production Office

–      I use energy conscious practices in my main production home office, as well as using renewable energy (solar panels) to power that office.

o      Examples: choice of efficient computers and printer, adjusting settings for sleep functions, turning off all equipment when not in use (including shutting off the power bar to avoid “phantom” energy losses).

–      Paperless practices where possible, plus re-use of the second side of transcript printouts for subsequent drafts.

–      Use of LED lights (rechargeable) for filming

–      Recycling of all batteries through municipal hazardous waste depots

–      Choice of packaging for DVD cover (FSC certified recycled cardboard, and recycled plastic tray).

–      The decision to include a recycled plastic tray in the jacket design was made to avoid the need for padded envelopes. It allowed for an overall reduction in material required.

–      Mailing envelopes are made  of recycled paper and on the lightest stock.

–      When submitting to festivals or mailing screeners, I re-use some of the stacks of jewel cases that find their way into my office.

–      A donation was made to the Guatemala Stove Project to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions that were unavoidable (from travel and electricity consumption)