It has been busy the last months in and around Amsterdam with plenty of shooting days for two different American feature films. NL Film is co-producer of Lyrebird, about the Dutch master forger Han van Meegeren, directed by Dan Friedkin. Kaap Holland Film, previously responsible for the shooting of Nolan’s Dunkirk, now co-produces The Goldfinch by director John Crowley, based on the book by Donna Tartt and starring Nicole Kidman. At the specific request of the American producers, both productions were run as sustainable as possible!
Sustainability manager on set of The Goldfinch
Since the producer made sustainability in all areas an absolute requirement, Barbara Dorrestein was appointed as sustainability coordinator on the Goldfinch set. She was responsible to ensure that all the work was done sustainably every day. Room was made in the budget for her to take frequent measurements as to be able to make a detailed report of the complete cost reduction at the end of production.
Even though Barbara did not have a lot of time to prepare, she still found the process of working with Americans very insightful. She was in contact with Earth Angel beforehand, who helped her on her way to keep track of the measurements to be taken at the various departments. In terms of decor and props, for example, it was recorded which items were bought second-hand and which could be re-used. Not only the consumption on the set itself was recorded, but also of additional facilities, from hotel rooms used to the number of laundry cycles. Barbara’s favourite sustainability action though, was to bring the leftover food to different shelters where it could still be eaten the same day. It became a sport, which she played gladly together with caterer Marcel of Suus & Binkie. Some days they could feed up to 200 people in one night.
The system for separating waste is different in the US than in the Netherlands. In the US there is only a deposit-refund system for cans and the rules for separating plastic are also different. Barbara explains that she had to place lots of signs for the crew to make clear what should be thrown away where. There were three stickers on each waste bin to indicate this. Unfortunately she found out too late that upon collection the waste containers were counted as full even if they were only filled for three quarters. Something to take into account for a next production to make transport carbon emissions even more efficient.
Location manager for The Goldfinch Thijs Bolle had gotten in touch with waste processor Renewi through the Green Film Making workshop ‘Sustainable Catering’. Renewi has committed itself to support the film industry towards ‘zero waste’. They facilitate us, among other things, with streamlining set logistics to separate and dispose of waste more easily. Thijs Bolle contacted Renewi’s Jurrien de Pijper who made sure special waste containers were present at all shooting locations in Amsterdam to collect the waste separately. And this time Renewi also succeeded in adapting to last minute changes in the shooting schedule and getting the bins in the right place every day. Afterwards Thijs received a report from Renewi of what exactly had been collected along with the news that the total carbon reduction was 390 kg!
On the set of Lyrebird, location manager Maarten Buurlage also worked with separate waste containers, via CT Events Services. But unfortunately waste separation was less successful here, which underlines the fact that a special sustainability coordinator on set is really indispensable. Especially at peak moments such as during a hot lunch, the crew has many questions about how to separate their waste. It is really important for waste separation to go well to designate one person as sustainability coordinator and clearly communicate with the crew. Her or she can supervise the various processes and act as a point of contact. The coordinator must be appointed early to be able to make a good strategy and prepare everything in advance. This task can often be combined with transport management.
For both The Goldfinch and Lyrebird light was provided by company Lux & Co where owner Erno Das has been working sustainably for years. He compensates his own carbon emissions in collaboration with Urban Street Forest and even has a small wind turbine on the roof of his company in Amsterdam. He has also developed generators that are super silent and run on GTL (gas to liquid), which puts much less particulate matter in the atmosphere. These generators can also fully service larger sets with energy.
In conversation with Erno it became clear that both productions had been prepared early and carefully. This made it possible for all departments to coordinate well with each other. It not only improved their cooperation in terms of efficiency, but also the atmosphere. Everyone came to the set well prepared and knew exactly what to expect. Erno particularly mentioned the cooperation between the light and the Art Department as an example of a smooth cooperation. Together they replaced the lights on the Amsterdam bridges that were part of the set design. The existing lighting was replaced by LED lights and was in this way integrated in the decor. An important element in the overall look, but sustainable as well.
Water and toilet
Both productions rented the sustainable vacuum toilet cars from Locatie Werk. They use much less water because they work with a vacuum pump. Moreover, they also used the so-called “Waterbowser”. This unit provides clean drinking water and discharges wastewater from the catering in a neat way. With a pump, the wastewater is pumped into tanks and discharged into the sewer instead of thrown away in the grass, the canal or on the street. For the production of The Goldfinch, this amounted to 7500 liters of fresh water supplied and 3000 liters of wastewater that was not just dumped at the sites, but ended up in the sewers where it belongs.
Executive producer of Lyrebird Elwin Looije indicated that they also used the Skyliner on set, a mobile production office with two floors, equipped with a toilet with a vacuum pump. This means less transport by combining different functions in one unit.
Big congrats to both production companies and the location managers, who showed that we are very capable of applying sustainability on our film sets in the Netherlands. The American producers were very satisfied and are happy to come back.