Drivers of sustainability explored at Cannes
- CANNES 2023: Industry experts from a range of countries offered a valuable insight into modern approaches to green production
The European Green Deal is gradually taking shape in the film and media landscape. Mandatory production standards, awards, tools and training are giving green film production a boost in various key European territories. At the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film, international industry experts offered an insight into different approaches at a panel discussion called “Drivers of Sustainability in Europe”, which was hosted by the Sardegna Film Commission and Green Film Shooting, in collaboration with Cinecittà and Italian Film Commissions. Various strategies and solutions are being developed in order to reduce the carbon footprint of film production and its impact on the environment.
In Germany, eco-friendly production standards are becoming mandatory for film productions from 1 July onwards. “All of the funding systems will start with the same ecological production standards. It is a huge success that these are becoming the environmental standards for the whole industry,” says Peter Dinges, chairman of the German Federal Film Board (FFA). “The broadcasters and streamers have made a commitment and signed the papers. They will apply the environmental standards not only for funded productions, but also for their commissioned ones.” The ecological production standards have been tested by productions in a practical lab, and they include 39 requirements, among them 21 mandatory ones. “When a producer applies these requirements, he has five ‘jokers’,” Peter Dinges points out. “This is only at the beginning, though. In a year’s time, it will become stricter.”
In France, the CNC has launched a national plan for green action. The French film fund requests producers to do a carbon calculation and deliver this report to them. “The CNC wants to measure the impact of the film industry on the environment and collect data,” says Joanna Gallardo, head of Production Forum at Film Paris Region and adviser at Ecoprod. Since 2009, Ecoprod has been promoting green film measures, and it has been working to encourage the film and TV industry to pay more heed to environmental issues. The association provides training for film professionals and recently launched a label for green film production.
In Italy, green film production was pioneered by the Sardegna Film Commission, which introduced a programme on this as well as on green storytelling in 2014. Besides encouraging eco-friendly practices within the industry and developing a green protocol for live-action films, the Sardegna Film Commission is also a driving force for green animation. “We started a public lab for training and production in a former tobacco factory, where we are testing the entire scope of productions,” says Nevina Satta, CEO of Sardegna Film Commission and general secretary of the European Film Commission Network (EUFCN). “We have to deal with international productions and different protocols,” emphasises Satta, who is also the co-chair of governors at the UN initiative ENZA, which is working on a common sustainability strategy for the entertainment industry. “We have to share our data and information so that we can track progress on a global level.”
In Spain, the Mallorca Film Commission started to introduce green film production practices to producers in 2017. “It was a slow process because they were always discussing the costs of green measures,” says Pedro Barbadillo, CEO of the Mallorca Film Commission. “Therefore, we decided to go the opposite way. Instead of pushing them to become greener, we support the industry in a structural way.” The regional film fund set up a Green Film Shooting plan, which was approved with a budget of €2.1 million. “This allows us to launch calls for all the lines of action that are necessary to go green.”
In order to reduce the environmental impact of co-production projects, Eurimages, the cultural support fund of the Council of Europe, introduced an additional selection criterion for its Co-production Support programme in January 2023. “The aim is to raise awareness amongst applicants, and to create a leverage effect,” stresses Thierry Hugot, analyst at Eurimages. The industry experts take this new criterion into consideration as part of their overall evaluation of a project hoping to receive co-production funding. “It is not an eligibility criterion. At this stage, it is only a declaration by the producers that can be checked at the end of the project.” The aim was to put this subject matter on the table for the producers as well as the experts at the commissions. “All projects can apply,” emphasises Hugot. “It only makes a difference if projects are assessed equally.”
The European Film Academy is also implementing a sustainability strategy. “We are adapting to the changing world both inside and outside of the academy,” says Graziella Bildesheim, board member of the European Film Academy. One of the first steps was to plant trees in Iceland, where the 2022 European Film Awards ceremony took place. Measures such as reducing the carbon footprint by working on sustainable mobility concepts, serving vegetarian meals and using locally sourced materials are already on the agenda. “We are also working on a new green award that we want to give out.”
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