Good preparation is half the battle! In 2019 Green Film Making joined the production team of the big annual live broadcast of the classical Prinsengracht concert in Amsterdam. Broadcaster AVROTROS raised the bar and, in addition to the many studio and news shows that had already been consulted, wanted to shoot this major event as sustainably as possible. Ronald Kok, the producer of the show, knows how the cookie crumbles and how to collaborate with partner Pulitzer Hotel.
This year there was an extra challenge, since the Municipality of Amsterdam had raised the requirements for events in terms of sustainability considerably. The production of the Prinsengracht concert has been done by AVROTROS together with the Production Factory since many years and the technical suppliers don’t want to miss an edition of this annual landmark event. Such a close knit team has many advantages, but when you’re suddenly required to do everything sustainably, the pressure goes up. Sustainability Manager Els evaluated all departments together with producer Ronald and as a first measure the AVROTROS decided to work completely digital. A website was created where both the crew members and the festival audience on boats could go to arrange everything; registrations, callsheets, technical information, construction schedules and the content of the concert.
The additional requirements of the Municipality of Amsterdam includes an environmental coordinator who must account for catering, waste, energy, safety, communication and transport before, during and after the concert. No permit without full approval. Not a problem for Ronald though, who submitted everything on time and was planning to run the show on clean energy this year. But the Municipality held off on the permit, because of a problem with sagging of the quay on the Prinsengracht. Heavy transport, NEP’s cars and the stands were no longer allowed on the quay, as was customary.
It was tense, but the preparations just went ahead! The vans were moved further down to the Westermarkt. But that meant that all the required cables had to be much longer and the number of pontoons had to be increased by 20. The generators were also moved. Would everything work at such a distance? Many meetings and endless blueprints were needed to convince the municipality to eventually issue the permit. But such a setback also offers many benefits for the future; a break from routine and a start to think in terms of solutions.
This year the pontoons were moved into place with a tugboat and instead of attached to the quay they were secured in the canal with beams. In order to know for sure what the exact power consumption was, the AVROTROS decided to take many measurements at the advice of Green Film Making. Jim van Oosten (from WattNow) installed meters between the cables and at the catering generator on the Keizersgracht. Maybe the catering could have been powered by the nearby Pulitzer Hotel?
Green Film Making was on the set the entire week and could follow all logistics of transport, waste and equipment. All departments and also the relevant hotel officials were open and willing to think about taking even more sustainable steps in the coming season. The show itself was again a great success with the song “Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten” (At the Amsterdam Canals) as a renewed highlight. It was a real team effort; on the day of the broadcast Els saw many producers of other AVROTROS shows chipping in.
Afterwards the AVROTROS received a detailed report with opportunities and tips for next year, which Ronald will also share with the Municipality of Amsterdam. Although the production had already implemented a number of sustainable measures, still a lot has been learned and also improved in terms of transport, waste logistics, catering and energy. It is fantastic that they are willing to share their experiences in such a transparent way.
During our Workshop on Sustainable Energy last November 5th, Ronald and Jim van Oosten from Watt-now presented a case study of the tests they did. It was the first time that a detailed analysis was made of exactly what voltage was used during the production week, where the peaks were and whether the chosen arrangement was the best solution. The result was very surprising! During the peak consumption of the concert itself, only 80 kVA was used in total, while 2 × 200 kVA and 1 × 80 kVA were on site! One of the 3 generators was even never used at all. Producer Ronald, in particular, was very honest and admitted how surprised he was. He was really stunned about the fact that he had rented 2 generators for nothing. Han from Greenbattery guaranteed that he can do the next Prinsengracht edition completely sustainable for the same price. And De Groene Aggregaat and Greener can certainly also handle this, they have even done much larger shows. So on to the next!