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What is Green Film Making?

Green film making simply means leaving as little environmental impact on the planet as possible while producing your film. It’s a myth that sustainability will come with a price tag, often the opposite is true. Aside from clear environmental benefits of making your film production greener, higher sustainable standards lead to: significant cost reduction in many different aspects, increased efficiency and time-saving as well as recognition from peers. Taking the lead in sustainability also means you’ll stay on top of existing regulatory requirements and ahead of future legislation.

Is the environmental impact of a film really that big a deal?

Absolutely. We are living in an age of transition; the amount of fossil fuel resources is rapidly decreasing, this means we need to be very efficient with what we still use. But it also creates new opportunities to look for effective alternatives. These days Green Film Making is strongly rooted in the concept of circulair economy, in which nothing goes to waste. This often leads to creative innovations and opportunities.

Everyone has a part to play and the film industry is no exception since it’s a major contributor to environmental pollution. Like any other industry, there’s room for improvement, for example in terms of transport, catering, power supply, make up and set design. Things can be done more efficiently and by using fewer resources, that means productions will be cheaper too. For producers, the key is to identify priorities and challenges before production begins.

A useful checklist could include:

  • Make a green commitment and engage the filmmakers, financers and everyone involved with the production, at an early stage

  • Set achievable goals for yourself and the team, and lead by example

  • Identify green partners who can supply the products/services you need

  • Hold a pre-production meeting with department heads to announce the sustainability plan

  • Solicit input from department heads regarding ways to make their department greener

  • Hold a kick-off meeting with cast and crew to communicate green goals and strategies for the production

  • Include green updates in weekly production meetings

  • Consider doing a mid-point evaluation: compute progress statistics and share lessons learned to keep crew engaged and to re-energize the team.

Better communication and involving all departments at an early stage will lead to greater efficiency. For example, each department will not have to arrange their own transportation and their own generator. This will take pressure of each department head, save costs and also be a positive influence on team spirit!

A brief history of Green Filmmaking in the Netherlands

Green film making started in the Netherlands with the Green Film Making Project and it’s Green Film Making Competition: a competition that stimulated filmmakers to produce a film as sustainable as possible. The first edition was organized in 2012. From 60 entries a jury selected 6 finalists. The six teams produced a short film, maximum 10 minutes, as sustainably as possible.

The 2013, 2014 ánd 2015 edition, (2015 under supervision of Sustainability Manager Els Rientjes) featured a close cooperation with the Netherlands Film Fund and mayor broadcaster NTR in their short film program KORT! (Short!). This was extended to the first feature program One Night Stand, also with NTR.

Since 2014 Green Film Making has a partnership with renowned documentary festival IDFA, through the Green Screen Day. Each year a specific program is offered during the festival with a selection of relevant films and additional panel discussions and presentation by experts and filmmakers.

Since 2015 Els Rientjes has expanded the scope of Green Film Making with research and workshops for specific departments, deals with suppliers and sustainable innovators as well as pilot tests on set of new sustainable applications. Green Film Making collaborates with a wide range of trailblazing institutions and individuals such as: Metabolic, Locatiewerk, Gemeente Amsterdam, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, GreenBattery, Diks Rental Cars, Join the Pipe, Dutch Film Academy and many more. Els also consults productions in Dutch TV and film on how to make their production more sustainable.