Q Hollywood celebrities are talking a lot about going green, but aren't movies hugely wasteful?
A I have to admit it's kind of funny watching big-name celebs trip over each other trying to be greener than the next A-lister. But, hey, if Paris is serious about trading in her Range Rover for a hybrid Escape, as was recently announced, we can rest assured that any future drunk driving will be low-emission. Warms your cockles, doesn't it?
I kid. Kind of. In all honesty, I commend anyone who decides to reduce the impact of any area of their lives, and if that means riding to the Oscars in a biodiesel limo, so be it.
When big names talk green, it undoubtedly makes the environment cooler with the kids. Yes, Ted Danson has been spreading the word about saving the oceans for decades, but when high-rankin' hotties like Cameron Diaz and Leo DiCaprio raise the green flag, a whole new generation of young 'uns tunes in.
That's what Natural Resources Defense Council was banking on when it paired with the 79th Annual Academy Awards to "significantly reduce the impact of the telecast and related events, setting a high-profile example for an estimated 40 million viewers." Mostly that meant buying a whack of carbon offsets, printing the Oscar ballots on recycled paper, doing an energy audit of the Kodak Theater and serving organic grub at the glitzy Governor's Ball.
TIFF has a couple green bashes of its own like the Ecollywood soirée in Yorkville. And the National Film Centre is starting to look into biodegradable plates for its big Sunday barbeque.
Hollywood's even got a group called the Environmental Media Association (EMA) that tries to boost sustainable living by hooking up celebs with green products and working with screenwriters to weave eco themes into storylines.
But I digress (where's a focus puller when you need one?): you asked about the impact of the films themselves. And your suspicion's right on the money, honey - most productions are atrociously wasteful and ecologically oblivious. My partner works on TV and movie sets and always comes home kvetching about the mass use of styrofoam plates and piles of plastic water bottles (largely unrecycled). He exacts his revenge by hiding the disposable stir sticks.
Feeding the cast and crew is one of the biggest sources of waste on set (elaborate sets used once then tossed are another). But the good news is that some caterers and craft trucks are shifting gears, thanks in part to Toronto's own Greenshift, which has worked with a few to use biodegradable crockery and move away from water bottles to fountains and coolers. (Check out greenshift.ca for news on which film-bent businesses are reducing their footprints.)
The org has also worked with a few productions (like the Incredible Hulk) on greening their whole flick, making sure there's recycling on set, reducing the amount of materials used in post-production and chemicals needed to process the film, as well as offsetting the emissions involved in trucking everyone to and from set every day.
This isn't totally new (George Clooney's 2005 film Syriana was Hollywood's first "climate-neutral" production), but consciousness is on the rise. I've even spotted whole L.A.-based conferences on how to ecofy your production.
Still, change is slow in coming, and there are some areas where there's bound to be extra foot-dragging. All those oversized lights used to fake sunshine are huge energy hogs, but you try getting a temperamental director of photography to switch to LEDs.
If you work on a film or TV set, talk to your production manager about jumping on the eco bandwagon and capitalizing on the cachet going green could buy you. Viewers wouldn't want to know their favourite movie/sitcom is actually an ecological horror show, would they?
Now if Hollywood (and Hollywood North) would just stop wasting its cash/time/resources on crappy films, we could really do the planet (and our eyeballs) some good.