Dutch production company BlazHoffski wants to produce as sustainably as possible and asked Green Film Making to consult their productions. And so on June 4th, sustainability manager Els Rientjes met with executive producer Nicolle Weenink and production manager Yara Graber, who were scheduled to shoot their third series of The Big Escape, a big reality game show with Dutch celebrities, in September.
In a detailed conversation it became clear how they had produced the show in previous seasons and all details related to logistics were carefully evaluated. Based on this, Els made an initial report and detailed advice, with which Yara went to work. There was regular phone contact during the preproduction process, so that Els could always jump in or add something extra when needed.
Of course, preparations are easier if you have run the production twice before, but then the trick is to make choices that are slightly different. And not just go on autopilot. From the outset it was clearly communicated with the crew that BlazHoffski really wants to produce sustainably, through the digital call sheets and in conversation with the crew and cast.
In September, on the last construction day, we were invited to visit their set to speak to all the Heads of Department. We wanted to know how they had been involved in the preparations and what their vision was of the possibilities of a more sustainable season. Here a report of the measures that they took together.
The crew slowly arrived one by one during the day, according to schedule. Production manager Yara had arranged personal drinking bottles with people’s names on it. Everyone was responsible for refilling during production.
The shooting location is massive, it’s a huge former industrial complex. In order to move easily between the different sets and production HQ, some electric carts have been rented for the crew, in addition to several bicycles, to avoid unnecessary CO2 emissions.
Nicolle (Executive Producer) explains that this year they consciously chose a set where everything can be done at the same location. This leaves more time for extra shooting hours in a day, in contrast to previous years where they had several relocations per day. Efficiency and sustainability go well together in this way. Finding this location in Germany was not easy. But among other things, it resulted in being more logical to have everyone accommodated in the same place. So everyone sleeps in a “holiday park” and goes to the set together in vans. Unnecessary driving back and forth is thus avoided.
The Art Department in particular performed wonders on this production. Their vans are full of used set pieces and props. Everything has been collected at thrift stores and the locations themselves also offer many options for dressing them up in a creative way. We also spot set pieces from the previous seasons that have been in storage at BlazHoffski.
Beforehand Yara spoke extensively with their caterer, Joost, from the Catering Factory. Dishwashing is done on set and two people take care of the daily catering. Separating waste, for which its easiest to use the possibilities of the location, turned out to be impossible. Surprisingly, no waste is separated here, which is very unfortunate. Separating waste on the set, to be collected separately to bring to the Netherlands, was a bridge too far.
But there is still something to be gained in the catering department. Everything is pre-packaged and packed again and is brought from the Netherlands. With good preparation this could have been different. The Dores box, to collect paper cups, turned out to still be at the BlazHoffski office on arrival, says Yara, embarrassed. At least that would have been a small feasible attempt. (Hopefully these will be used for another production!)
The DOP, Harm Griekspoor, explains how he prepared the lighting plan. He uses 50/50 LED and normal light bulbs, because LED alone is still not always strong enough. But he uses the more economical light bulbs. In addition, the new trend now is to shoot with so-called super 35 cameras, with a larger chip, which are much more light-sensitive. As a result, he now uses only 1.8 kWh instead of 4 kWh, because these cameras can last longer due to that sensitivity. He prefers to work with natural light anyway, inspired by Robby Müller, because this is the most beautiful light. And the idea behind it is also beautiful, with fewer resources you become more creative.
Creative Producer and co-owner Erik van der Hoff, explains how conscious BlazHoffski works in their own office. “We work together with Dahl TV, who make shows such as De Keuringsdienst van Waarde (Food Unwrapped), and the moment we started working together, the dining table began to change. They brought this tasty meat from the organic butcher in paper packaging. At first we sort of laughed about it, but it quickly became clear how important it is.”
Green Film Making also spoke with the producer of the ‘Keuringsdienst’ and had to conclude that for such a show, which provides viewers with so much content about making sustainable choices, it should be possible to sometimes travel by plane (it would be extra nice though if those trips were compensated by, for example, planting trees). But for Erik it is obvious to choose consciously. It’s like at home when he was young. Memories of the food waste collector of yore follow and waving his water bottle he then turns to his editors / reporters who will guide the candidates the next day.
Editor-in-chief Dannis Kramers talks about the location, where industry and nature have completely merged. This is a place with plenty of biodiversity which is actively protected by park management. A certain game location was first carefully examined to see if there were any special plants or animals before a shooting permit was granted!
Director Willem Jansen, is a big supporter of the personalized drinking bottles. It’s not only a nice gift, but also very much needed.
Gaffer Ernst-Jan Thieme explains that during preproduction he had a conversation with Daaf of Het Licht about additional power on the set. People thought it would be possible to get everything from the power supply on site. But when that turned out to be impossible, there was consultation with Daaf about the most efficient choice and also the most sustainable solution. Daaf will talk about this on November 5, during the launch of our Sustainable Energy harvest map at the workshop at Mediamatic in Amsterdam
In the end, a solution was found for almost everything. Only a more sustainable option to get the candidates to the location, without seeing each other in advance, was not manageable yet. But for a team that is so creative in coming up with the different games, it should be possible next year. Hopefully Erik and Dannis will accept that challenge.
So in conclusion, high praise for the dedication and enthusiasm that we saw on this set. When you read this, the shooting has been finished and we are looking forward to seeing the finished series shot at this unique location. It will be broadcast in spring 2020 at BNNVARA on NPO3.