The Dutch Daniel Aiss, of ALP productions, is proudly ‘homegrown’ for us in more ways than one. Daniel got his start in sustainable filmmaking as a competitor during the 2013 professional edition of our Green Filmmaking Competition. And since then, he hasn’t looked back in becoming one of the greenest, sharpest, and most cutting edge filmmakers that the Netherlands has to offer. This year, he joins our 2014 competition as well. But this time, as an official jury member on our international sustainable filmmaking experts panel. What’s his story? Find out here.

For the 2013 Green Filmmaking Competition, Daniel produced the film Stand by Me in conjunction with the NTR and The Netherland’s Film Festival‘s KORT! film program.

But, Daniel was no stranger to the principles of sustainable production even before the competition. His commercial film company Company Films had already been endorsing more resource efficient ways of managing production, for years. In the world of commercials, sustainable production makes more obvious sense: it looks better for business, and it saves money on short but high budgeted projects. But, to apply the principals of sustainable production to his film company ALP, required revelation that came about during his engagement with The Green Filmmaking Project.

Bringing Green Consciousness to the Film Business, for the Film Business

“Oddly enough, I was already working towards sustainability at home and in my day to day life. Awareness about the potential in bringing sustainability in the workplace however, came a little bit later with my involvement in Green Filmmaking Project. At one point, I realized that sustainability can be an integrated part of your business model. It can be just as important as the other aspects of the work that you do. If, as a filmmaker you want to make content that you can really stand behind and believe in, you should also be able to stand behind and believe in the way it is made as well. At the end of the day, it’s the process that supports, holds up, and leads to your finished content.”

Going Green: A New Generation of Dutch Filmmakers and Shedding Stale Industry Values

Daniel has seen the support behind sustainable production in the Dutch film industry evolve and change over time, and acknowledges that sustainability is very much alive in the Dutch industry context at present. People in The Netherlands are interested in the idea, and they support green filmmaking’s principle values.

But, as Daniel explains, green filmmakers are still faced with social challenges as well as resistance: “Green filmmaking inspires a different way of working. It has many sceptics because of the new methods it proposes within an old industry. There are alot of misunderstandings, and inaccurate assumptions that come out of this; that green filmmaking costs big money, for example. And that sets going green will lose a lot of time. From experience, I can tell you, this does not have to be the case. Filmmakers must experience the benefits of a sustainable-set themselves, in order to truly understand”.

Aiss notes that making green waves in the film world is particularly challenging because of its industry’s historically conservative nature: “We learn from each other right? And, we’ve learned the film trade from those before us in a certain way, and we tend to hold on to that. Because it’s easy. So, I think that it is a really great thing that the Green Filmmaking Project’s European Student Competition is focusing on the potential of industry innovation to come from the new generation. These are the people who will determine what the film industry’s face of the future is going to look like.”

The Green Filmmaking Standard with Daniel’s: Company Films

In addition to his creative film production company ALP, Daniel also works as Company Films. Under this company name, Aiss makes films for commercial purposes. He and business partner Jelle Leeksma worked sustainably on Company Film projects, long before they entered the Green Filmmaking Competition through ALP. Aiss explains that, “Our sustainable approach in producing commercials had to do with maximizing efficiency and utilizing budget control. Commercial filming is expensive. So, we looked at reducing the number of crew members on the set, and then looked critically at the amount of energy and resources that we could save. These things translate into dollars that matter, within an expensive trade.”

Integrating the Green Filmmaking Standard with Daniel’s: ALP Films

When asked why this working sustainable approach was not applied to the more creative business of ALP, Aiss replied bluntly: “Laziness. Perhaps laziness. When you get a film budget, you can make a movie and that’s it. That’s kind of just the way it happens. The culture around the production is different. The economic drive for sustainability is less apparent. You have to make an effort to see the value and savings in it, ahead of time. So, it’s up to the producer to step on the brakes, and say we are not going to run for three days, but seven, with a third of the people. Sure, it’s a different philosophy and methodology, but it provides an incredible array of new opportunities. You will walk a different path, but you will still arrive at a finished high quality film”.

‘Green’ Pre-Production Drinks = a Green Crew and Great Greening Ideas for Your Set

Before production for the film Stand by Me began, ALP organized a ‘green drink’ in which all Heads of Department were invited. This invitation was extended to all departments, in order to ensure early opportunity for the whole film crew to exchange ideas, and gather input regarding a sustainable approach. Most importantly, it helped to create a common ground from which all crew members could impart the project’s work.

Daniel recalls of this initial meeting, “The central question for everyone was, How can we produce this film as green as possible? From here, came all kinds of green ideas from: vegetarian catering, to the use of mirrors instead of lamps with the lightning crew. We came to do things like using power from a local home, instead of needing to transport an isolated generator. The best part of this whole green approach? Though it required a shift in thinking, it was not at all difficult to do in practise. There were no major related obstacles during the entire filming process. It was actually, surprisingly easy.” From this initial green drink with the production crew, came the beginnings of green fruit that would continue to blossom and mature throughout the film’s sustainable production process.

Where Does the Future of Green Filmmaking Lie?

Daniel believes that it’s in the government and broadcasters; they can greatly assist in a transition. He has clear thoughts: “If there is an eco-manager present on more sets, sustainable production in the Netherlands will really take off in a larger way. Also I think that the media fund distributors, alongside the broadcasters, can play a leading role by requiring their filmmakers to produce in greener ways. From here, green filmmaking can really get into the DNA of the film industry. In the Netherlands, we are lucky to have a government that encourages environmentally positive developments- and they are proactive about it too. For example, when we had the terrible flood experience of 1953, it was not a group of citizens who stood up to say, “we are going to build a dam”, in order to fix this for the future. It was the government who took action. Sustainability is just as important- if not more important- to our government, than the levees that currently protect us from the sea. In my opinion, the broadcasters are also crucial as they generate so many programs and productions. A strong sustainability agenda would have big implications for the way in which the work they show gets produced. Green production has not yet penetrated the tv broadcasters, and to me, this lack of responsibility is drawn out into the social applicablity of the end product. The TV industry is very different from the movie industry, and there are big steps to be made there as well. Governments, broadcasters, and professionals alike just have to be open to change, for the sake of upgrading and improving our industries in 2014″.

See Daniel Aiss talking the benefits of sustainable filmmaking, and follow him on a green-set in a short video here, from our general Vimeo page. But you may need a translator as, it’s in Dutch!

If you enjoyed this article, you will also like the following from our blog: PROGRESS UPDATE: 2014 GREEN FILMMAKING COMPETITION FOR EUROPEAN STUDENTSand GREEN FILMMAKING HAS ‘LANDED’ ACROSS EUROPE