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On the way to the top: Taking stock after 4.5 years of Green Film Making

On the way to the top: Taking stock after 4.5 years of Green Film Making

photo: Summer With Rana by Sanne Vogel

By Sustainability Manager Els Rientjes

In January 2015 I took over from Strawberry Earth and founded the Green Film Making Foundation. Now, 4.5 years later, I look back on a time of hard work, a lot of pushing and pulling, but also a time of meeting many professionals from the industry who really want to work together towards a different approach. Together we made beautiful films and shows produced in a more sustainable way.

In the meantime, ambassadors have emerged in all areas of film making who lead the way in offering their craftsmanship to producers more sustainably. Each year I visited a few departments and made an inventory with them of how things are going; Catering, Art Department, Costumes and Make-up, Light, Location management and Postproduction. With their expertise and help, supplemented by research from other fields such as events and architecture, I came across new methods and materials that are also applicable in our profession of producing sound and image.

But the film world is a rigid world, where changes are not so easy to achieve. People are often afraid of being the weakest link in the production chain and no Head of Department wants to cause delays. Or having to say “no”. So we are often on set with too many people and it is difficult to let go of our routines for new, cleaner methods. This will only work if we are convinced that it really works and if we dare to trust each other. It really helps if the producer can say that it is more efficient and that it saves money.

We still need more people who dare to take chances and are not afraid to run pilots on their sets. People who take the time to urge their crew to think of new approaches together. And try out the effects of, for example, LED lamps, electric generators and other materials together with service businesses. Things always depend on good logistics, so our caterers, location managers and producers are our anchors. For example, the caterers from Appeltje Eitje, Spek & Bonen, Sandra Hoffman and Mas van de Putten and location managers Thijs Bolle, Maarten Buurlage, Willem Doorman and Rob IJpelaar often shared their knowledge and made certain steps possible. With their help, the colleagues of camera, light, grip, decor and clothing can also offer their materials more sustainably. Collaborate, make connections between departments and, above all, start on time!

Still from graduation film Shalky by Lance Hossein Tangestani, who tested KAREL on set.

And time works to our advantage. Young filmmakers think it’s normal to consider a more sustainable world. Technical knowledge from the construction business, and the transitions in the field of energy and transport means that we can produce in a smarter way. And luckily knowledge is increasing in all departments and it is normal for schools to focus on sustainability. We started with advising small productions (Kort! And the One Nights Stands), but the producers of bigger productions are also increasingly contributing.

Catering

In the past years we have run various pilots with the help of producers and companies that wanted to make a change. In this way we have been able to take really big steps in catering. At least with those producers who really look for a caterer with sustainability integrated in their working method. With the help of Join the Pipe, we ran an intensive pilot for drinking tap water. We now use much less plastic water bottles on the set, we eat healthier and we produce less waste. And during the “Sustainable Catering” workshop in Rotterdam, innovators showed us their new products such as the biodegradable disposables of Biofutura, the burgers made from crickets of Burgs Foods and the Setsink of location manager Harm Bredero to show what the possibilities are. Thanks to all those companies and people who wanted to invest time and money in this!

Trailer of Summer With Rana by Sanne Vogel, who took many sustainable measures on set.

Waste

The problems around waste collections still remain a mission for the coming years. Many tests have already been run around sorting different waste streams. But in practice it turned out it’s still almost impossible to have it collected separately … But it already helps to make clear that the person who brings something to set is also responsible for the disposal of those materials. And that we no longer talk about waste, but about recourses or building materials that must be given a second life. Remko Zuidema and Jan-Henk Welink (TU Delft) stood by our side at the first workshop on waste (pardon raw materials!) And Cor Gerritsen and Jurriën de Pijper (Renewi) are still involved in new tests that will continue this summer and autumn. Taking responsibility for what we discard is not automatic yet. But there is also plenty of work being done on this through pilots with producers, such as the upcoming broadcast of the Prinsengracht concert.

Art Department

During the workshop “Art Department, Costumes and Make-up” we got nice examples to work together. Michel de Graaf, Hubert Pouille, Rosie Stapel, Head Affairs and Rob’s Propshop shared their knowledge in the preparation and we were inspired in the Melkweg by the working methods of production designers Dirk Debou, Florian Legters and Kurt Loyens, set dresser Leo Zandvliet and costume designer Linda Boogers. Our Dutch edition of this workshop was followed by VAF in Belgium and very recently also by albert in England. Knowledge is regularly exchanged internationally! We are still trying to develop a joint depot where clothing and props can be stored and reused, as it already exists in England. Florian Legters has promised not to give up!

Location Management

During the workshop ‘Sustainability on Location‘, we met Chandar van der Zande and Ward Hupperets (then working for Metabolic) with the ‘Solar Transformer’, a battery that is charged with solar panels, the electric generator ‘Green Battery’ from Han Huiskamp and the electric gators through Willem Doorman, for the silent moving shots at the film location. And don’t forget the clean vacuum toilets of Tijn Heerkens (Locatie Werk). These applications are now increasingly being used as standard.

Energy

In the field of energy, we still have a way to go, but there are now more good examples thanks to, among others, Han Huiskamp (Green Battery), Daaf van der Veen (True Hybrid), Dieter Castelein (Greener), Johan de Leeuw (De Groene Aggregate), Bart Wouda (Firefly) and Bart Hendriks (Wattsun). Jim van Oosten, who took measurements on set with Watt Now, provided us with much better insight into energy consumption. Thanks also to producers like Ron Groenewoud, who were willing to do tests. But we are still afraid to use these applications on a larger scale. Hopefully this aspect will take flight before the end of 2019, when we will have launched the Filmoogstkaart “Energy” (in collaboration with Superuse Studio). This is being realised with the indispensable help from all sustainable energy suppliers and the film commissioners of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Friesland, Limburg and Zeeland, who are currently sharing their knowledge of their region.

Light

We go on the road with less heavy lamps that use less energy wherever possible. Lighting companies such as Het Licht and Unicam are always willing to do preliminary tests and have advised the One Night Stands for us, among others. In collaboration with the NBF and post-production company Filmmore, a special “Dutch LED Seminar” was organised that taught us that LED lamps are very reliable, and a lot of new information has been added since.

Transport

Many producers have been combining transport schedules for some time now to reduce CO2 and encourage their crew to travel by bike and public transport. In 2015 we conducted extensive research into transport and visited all the standard rental companies. Alexander Zwaan (Diks) is happy to think along with producers about cleaner transport (if that wish is clearly expressed) and in the meantime Taxi Electric has also been well-liked by crews.

Postproduction

The post-production workshop at FC Walvisch (which was created in collaboration with Ben Willens, Philip Vlé (Camelot), Maarten de Graaf and Neeltje van der Heijden (post-production supervisors), editor Job er Burg and VFX supervisor Kasper Oerlemans) taught us that considering post-production early in the process has a positive effect on VFX / SFX choices and how good advice in advance can save us money. It’s very sustainable to allow production designers, cameramen and editors to puzzle together in advance on the best logistical choices and to know whether all those set pieces really need to be built on the set itself. Moving storyboards are no longer exceptions when preparing a major film.

And fortunately the national broadcasters are increasingly taking their responsibility and dare to make sustainable demands on their productions. And we all have to, because otherwise we will soon limit our own options to shoot on location, as the big cities will set increasingly higher requirements. And that will not just be limited to cleaner cars, sustainable generators and waste separation (sorry, raw materials!)

I am confident that we can improve even more and with Green Film Making we will continue to be a point of inspiration and a place where cleaner, smarter methods can be tried out in the coming years. A special call to producers and production assistants: you determine how fast we can go. Come to us with your production if you want more tips than you can find on the website or want to participate in a pilot. Because your input remains essential! Get in touch!

I would like to express my gratitude to many different people who still make Green Film Making possible. First a number of people from other branches who inspired us, prepared the workshops with us or made workshop locations available. Thanks to Jo Voet, Geanne van Arkel (Interface), Geraldo Vallen (Join the Pipe), Mara van de Kleij (Municipality of Amsterdam), Thomas Rau, Ineke Vlot, Sander Berkhout (Alleander), Maurits Groen, René de Klerk, Harold Krijger, Judith Rodenijs, Milan Meijborg, Tijl Couzie, Sebastiaan Bagchus, Marc Redmeijer, Marion Evenhuis, Nico Groen, Ronald Grosveld (Rofianda), Harm Bredero, Erno Das, Anne Gras (Money Green Wash), Jan Jongert and Jos de Krieger (Superuse Studios), Arie van Ziel (Worm Hotel), Lies Jansen (Marineterrein Amsterdam), Fleurie Kloostra (Melkweg), Nienke Fange (NBF) and the Dutch Film Fund.

Thanks also to Mette te Velde, Evelien Raaymans, Bart Römer, Wiendelt Hooijer, Chai Locher, Roos de Jager and Filmpeople for the support from the veru beginning and my buddies from past years An, Annemiek, Dagmar and of course Maartje. And of course also our ambassador Thekla Reuten!

Videos and photos by Jurriaan Vriezen, Gabriel Bauer, Kasper Hoex, Robert Kersbergen, Dorien Grötzinger and many others who recorded everything for the website.

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