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How the Film Industry is Turning Green
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Two words: “green” and “‘sustainability” are sweeping through our communities, industries and private sectors with such enthusiasm that most of us are onboard. I picked up the magazine Green Film Shooting #7 at this year’s Filmfest Hamburg, which emphasizes how the media is taking action toward sustainability in Europe and the US.

So what is “sustainability” and why is it important? Using energy-efficient, eco-friendly strategies and reducing carbon emissions with measures and environmental protections. Green film production companies include Canada’s James Cameron, director/producer of Avatar, Terminator, and the Titanic. A forerunner in 2010, he was already concerned about the carbon emissions his films generated, thus drastically changing his production by using solar-powered systems and having a film crew go vegetarian while on the set.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Green Film Shooting had an exciting start this year with their award of the Ökoprofit Certificate by Hamburg’s Jens Kerstan, Minister of Environment and Energy. In 2012 the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) in conjunction with other institutions created The Green Shooting Card award to production companies using the best practices starting in 2019. At the 2019 Berlinale Systemsprenger received the Alfred Bauer Award for opening new perspectives on cinematic art; it is Germany’s Oscar nominee this year. Before his retirement, Dieter Kosslick presented the “Berlinale red carpet walk of the stars” made of 100% recycled fishnets! I must say that it looks just as wonderful as its predecessor.

Also notable is that many cinemas in Germany are using the FFA-produced Green Cinema Handbook to improve their sustainability practices. The follow-up is to bring talent agencies onboard by having actors avoid using airplanes where possible by using other transportation means. The Swedes have taken this quite seriously and created the word “Flagskam,” which means ‘shame of flying.’

In France, set decorations are being recycled to minimize costs as well as to recycle leftover materials in an efficient, ecological way. Even Finland’s Lapland film production company is using green ideas on disposing of waste so as to not affect their sensitive ecosystem. The movement is even extending to venues like Sardinia, Italy, where the Sardegna Film Commission is reinforcing the Green Protocol ideas with a new animation program, extending collaborative ideas and creating compensation programs. Hotels are promoting e-bikes and recycling the pool water, as well as creating tasty menus with local produce.

This has also hit the cosmetic, hairstyling and the clothing industry. I truly love the idea of wearing clothes made from innovative biomaterials – imagine a dress made from beer, or shoes made from coconuts. Countries onboard with innovative processes for clothing production include Italy, Australia, and Germany. At a recent conference for fashion-sustainability, 40 garment companies signed a UN charter declaring a 2030 goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. I’m keen to check out those vegan sneakers made from coffee beans and produced under fair labor conditions!

These two power-words “green” and “‘sustainably,” are growing fast in an industry once wildly extravagant and wasteful. These strategies are having a positive effect on our environment. We, as individuals, can integrate these into our daily lives: promoting these good practices, doing something for our environment, and working towards a better future.