– CANNES 2021: Green filmmaking is clearly on the rise but not all new technologies are as eco-friendly as they seems
Climate change is a topic that filmmakers do not tackle only on the big screen. Film productions sometimes leave a huge carbon footprint due to the massive amounts of energy usage, mobility as well as waste, which is left behind when a production wraps. On the occasion of the 74th Cannes Film Festival, Ecoprod and Green Film Shooting hosted the discussion “New innovations for green production,” where experts offered insight into technological topics as well as best practices and requirements for productions.
“We need to understand that ecology and economy have to go hand in hand”, said Arnaud Borges, partner of Provence Studios, which installed a 3.6 Megawatt plant on the studio roof. As a producer, Arnaud Borges worked with Cyril Dion a couple of years ago. “He made me understand that it is possible to act more eco-friendly,” Borges said. Provence Studios also offers a huge LED screen for virtual production, which allows the creation of any kind of set in the studio. Due to this state-of-the- art technology, film crews don’t need to travel to any distant location. But on the other hand, virtual production consumes huge amounts of energy due to the data that needs to be processed and stored. “Besides a 400 square meter huge LED screen wall, virtual production requires all kinds of equipment,” pointed out Benoît Ruiz, environmental and innovation analyst for the CNC and co-founder of the tech company Workflowers. “That includes a tracking system, lights, server, cameras, a lot of wires, a cloud architecture, a sound system, electricity distribution as well as a cooling system.”
One of the best practices often recommended to film productions is the use of LEDs. But LED lights are not always more energy efficient; it all depends on whether they are used in the right way. “We need to see it in combination with the application. LED is the best tool if we want to create a soft light source while HMI is the best tool to create a hard light source”, explained Niels Maier, gaffer and CEO of German rental house Maier Bros. For comparison, e-bikes are eco-friendly if they are used instead of a car, while they are more harmful to the environment if replacing conventional bicycles. The carbon footprint of the travels of cast and crew can be reduced by careful planning. “It is very important to think about the shooting process already at script level,” stressed the producer Giovanni Pompeli who has green production experience with his company Kino produzioni.
“Cinema can have an impact – not only by reducing the footprint of our activities but also because the story we tell is extremely important and extremely powerful to change the way people see the world,” emphasised French filmmaker Cyril Dion (Tomorrow [+see also:
film profile]), who presented his new documentary Animal [+see also:
film profile] in the Cinema for the Climate program in Cannes. “Storytelling about the climate emergency must be done,” underlined Nevina Satta, CEO of the Sardegna Film Commission. “Green filmmaking is a game changer. It is also changing the way public money is spent and what kind of strategies are developed.” In Germany, ecological requirements for film productions will be implemented in the Federal Film Law starting in January 2022, as Katharina Retzlaff, Advisor to CEO of the German Federal Film Board pointed out: “This amendment has realigned the focus on sustainability drastically. From next year on, all productions will have to calculate their carbon emissions and to measure their environmental impact.”
In France, Ecoprod has been offering green tools and training to the audio-visual industry since 2009. In the first few years, there was not much interest in it. “Since the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the Youth Climate marches, green production has become an issue. We are at a turning point. Green production is no longer a voluntary approach of individual producers and broadcasters acting out of their personal conviction,” stated Ecoprod Coordinator Alissa Aubenque. “Now, the topic is becoming broader and the institutions are taking it seriously. In France, the CNC announced a three-year plan for a transition to a more sustainable film industry. We are moving from an individualistic approach to a more systemic change.”
The discussion “New innovations for green production” is also available online on Facebook. “We want to reach the people who are not convinced yet,” concluded Joanna Gallardo, co-host and Institutional Relations Manager, Film Paris Region. “The motto is ‘No planet, no film’!”