On October 4th 2016 the ‘Focus on Green 2016’ congres took place, initiated from the Mediapark in Hilversum where most Dutch broadcasters are based. One of the central questions was, how we can make sure that the media goes along with the need to become more ecologically sustainable. The host of the day, Jan Douwe Kroeske, took the lead: ‘ Amongst other things by sharing stories and inspiring each other. And also by letting yourself be inspired. These are fundamentals of our profession. 

Both Dutch (for example Gijs Kerbosch, Paul Römer, Bernice Notenboom and Peter Smit) and international guests (like Andy Ridley and Aaron Matthews) took the stage. Andy Ridley, initiator of the successful Earth Hour went first. He currently works for the Amsterdam based non-profit Circle Economy. Ridley: “No other country is as far removed from the concept of circulair economy as The Netherlands. Television and film can play a crucial part in making the concept known. Share the stories, as much as you can. ”

Someone who was very keen to share his story at the congres was film and TV producer Gijs Kerbosch of 100% HALAL. A 100% ecological success-story? Not so much, but especially for that reason an important story to be heard. When Kerbosch produced his first short for broadcaster NTR, it needed to be done as ecologically friendly as possible. And so it was. An extra employee was hired to ensure the sustainability on set. With Kerbosch’s next film it was the same story. After the second film 100% HALAL grew exponentially (from 4 to 22 employees). This growth had the effect of making the ‘green film making’ disappear to the background. “As soon as filming and producing becomes a race against the clock, there is very little room for Green Film Making“, Kerbosch shared very honostly. “This shocked me. It is clearly not engrained in our system. But I learned my lesson. I am looking back at how it happened and want to try to formulate an answer for the future. To try to implement it better into the production process.” Kerbosch continues: “You start to doubt yourself, but this doubt also brings something new: you wonder how innovative you are as a company. Is there resistance from the crew? Do the employees want to join or are you static?”

Our own Els Rientjes got the opportunity for a substantial pitch about the initiatives of some of her faithful Green Ambassadors. She introduced some alternatives to the polluting diesel generators that are used on set: de trusted Green Battery by Han Huiskamp, the FireFly represented by Bart Wouda and a brand spanking new hybrid generator proposed by Daaf van der Veen of Het Licht. Els also talked about the successful waterpilot, realized in collaboration with Geraldo Vallen of Join the Pipe. She was clear about the importance of these ambassadors: “We need companies who are not afraid to stick their neck out. They possess the necessary amount of courage and dare to think in an innovative way. These people are invaluable. They will be the ones making it possible for the film industry to keep up with the business sector, that they are part of.” The philosophy of Green Film  Making was prominent in this pitch: We have to do it together. Rientjes: “We have to share the knowledge, not sit on it. That’s outdated.

A similar ambassador, but from a UK initiative, is Aaron Matthews who came to introduce the ALBERT-calculator. This application, that gives a clear insight into the CO2-emission of a film or television-production, was introduced in The Netherlands at the initiative of Paul Römer and is proving to be very successful. BBC and BAFTA have already been working with the program for a while. The team behind the ALBERT has several goals: They want to highlight the problems, facilitate solutions through education and the accompanying technology plus enlarge the understanding of ecological issues. This is possible by showing solutions and innovations within productions themselves: to visualize them literally, like how you demand from actors to wear seat belts at the wheel, make them reduce or stop smoking, let them eat healthy, etc. In England this is even a law. Matthew: “We urgently need to determine a strategy and policy that can be supported by the sector as a whole.

NTR-director Paul Römer can only support this. The task is to get all broadcaster on board and keep them there. “It goes slowly,” he admits, “but we have to persevere. I want to do this by motivating in a positive way. For me this is also the best approach. I want to see how I can utilize my position as broadcasting director and how I can make other leaders join. But also the ‘makers’. When they become aware of the issues, they can transmit this realization to the public. Bringing ALBERT to The Netherlands was a good step. But it is a start, more will follow.”

Others who pitched: Frank Visser of iMMavator about sustainable setbuilder Unbranded. Jan Chris Duijnvendak of Chain explained the advantages and disadvantages of LED-lighting. Lex Strijkers presented his ‘Anti-messweapon’: a reusable plastic plate to reduce garbage at festivals. And introduction to cloud-direction was shown by NEP. Documentary maker Bernice Notenboom talked about her latest production Sea Blind and artist Peter Smit presented the massive sculpture made out of waste that he is building at the Mediapark.

The mission of Focus on Green 2016 was successful: it was really an inspired day. Green Film Making hopes Focus op Groen 2017 will see attendance quadruple. Experience has taught ‘If you get 20% of the sector on board, the ball will really start rolling’.  Broadcasters and funds should demand sustainable production methods, like the BBC has done. Paul Römer has already taken the first leap.

Focus on Green 2016 was a joint initiative of NPO Groen and iMMovator.