Industry Report: Green Film Shooting
The subway is four times faster
by Bernd Jetschin
- Fewer flights, no paper cups, green power, car pools and LED lights. Director Lars Jessen intends to make every one of his productions as eco-friendly as possible. While he was shooting ZDF’s family comedy Bloß kein Stress for Ziegler Film Köln, an eco-aware location manager helped him meet the criteria in order to obtain the Green Shooting Card issued by Film Förderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein.
"First of all, we had to raise the awareness of the cast and crew, which required tact and good communication skills", says Jessen. The set for this comedy about two suburban families who live next door to each other is a semi-detached house in Glinde, a Schleswig-Holstein town on the easternmost fringes of Hamburg. Car pools were set up and team members were encouraged to use public transportation in order to efficiently organize transportation to the location and back. Rather than using public transportation or car pools, however, many team members preferred to use their own automobiles since they associate them with notions of personal freedom. But there was one striking argument in favor of the eco-friendly alternative: During rush hour, the train is up to four times faster than driving, and there is a station right next to the set. “Of course I understand the actors’ point of view and I am aware of how hard they work on the set”, the director concedes, “so I am not going to make them take an overcrowded train.”
Another item on the green agenda was banning the use of paper cups. Waste separation was strictly observed on the set. The producers had a separate power line installed on the set in order to use green energy. Smaller spaces were lit with energy-efficient LED lights. “However, a small production cannot afford to rent large LED lights or electric vehicles”, Jessen explains. The higher costs incurred wouldn’t come close to being offset by the energy saved because the rental companies’ investments are incorporated into their rates at full scale. An increase in the volume of orders, however, might result in lower prices. “If [television] stations in Germany, through negotiations with production companies, provided an incentive for equipment and car rental services to invest in newer technologies, then the cost of these technologies could soon be amortized.”
Jessen, to discourage excessive flying on part of the actors, recommends a switch to weekly rates. The daily rates commonly used in Germany encourage actors to commute between locations in order to get as many shooting days as possible. Together with his eco-aware location manager Kathrin Schultz, Jessen convinced lighting crews to stop setting up lights two hours before the actual shoot. Not all green goals, however, have been achieved: "I couldn't convince catering to introduce a meat-free day."