Happy Earth Day 2009

In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to point you to a couple of our previous articles about green film.  If you know of other resources for decreasing your environmental impact as a filmmaker, let us know in the comments.

Green Film

Image from Cayusa

Image from Cayusa

Slow Food, Slow Film?
Media-making requires a lot of resources.  What can you can do to reduce your impact?
ABC’s Earth 2100: You, too, can be Al Gore!
ABC News asks you to submit videos about what our planet could look like over the next hundred years if we don’t act now to save it.
Chris Carter’s Green Set for X Files Sequel
A concrete example of how a major film production reduced its impact on the environment.

More Earth Day Resources

For a great collection of Earth Day related videos, head over to the Earth Day collection at the brand new PBS Video Portal.

Chris Carter’s Green Set for X Files Sequel

First of all, I’m posting this from a BUS! Yes, indeed, I have finally tried out Bolt Bus, and the wireless internet is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Image from Eleven Eights Photostream

Image from Eleven Eight's Photostream

In honor of Jewish tradition this week, I rented a bunch of movies that I missed in theaters, including the long-awaited X Files follow-up, I Want To Believe. The movie itself is much like a big long X Files episode, except that Mulder has a beard and Scully has really long hair.

However, I really like the extras on the DVD.  The blooper reel is outstanding (as, by the way, are all of the blooper reels from the original show).  In addition, X Files creator Chris Carter gives some insight into how he made his set more ecologically friendly.

Ford donated hybrid cars to transport cast and crew to and from airports, the crew limited the number of scripts and sides photocopied each day, and biodiesel generators powered equipment.  The crew had a no-idling policy for all vehicles, and used sand instead of salt on their snowy location shoots.  All food was produced less than 100 miles from the set.  It’s actually not that different from the suggestions I made in a previous post about green production and the potential for “slow film.”

Carter says that he had “lost some interest in what I do, because of the waste. . . and the mentality was spend a lot of money, make a lot of money, and don’t think about the product of your process.”

The X Files often dealt thematically with how humans encroach on the natural world, and I think it’s great to hear that Carter takes his own message so seriously.

Slow Food, Slow Film?

Lately, media-makers of all stripes have been doing their part to let us know that the world is going to come to an end if we don’t start taking our environmental impact more seriously. It’s a great message to put out there, but one that is especially tough for media-makers to follow in their own companies. Media-making requires a lot of resources.

Image from 416style

Image from 416style

I’ve been coming up with ways that media production could take a cue from the folks in the Slow Food and Slow Travel movements. The idea behind Slow Food and Slow Travel is that, in order to conserve resources, respect other cultures and foster a healthy planet, we need to do things like buy environmentally sound products, avoid wasting fuel, and support local economies. When I googled “slow film,” all I got were a bunch of negative reviews of movies. In film and new media, “slow” is a dirty word.

What if it wasn’t? What would “Slow Film” entail?

Slow Film

  • Cutting down on travel costs by maximizing fuel economy of rental cars and skipping extra scouting trips.
  • Minimizing equipment: Taking only the lightest and most power-efficient equipment.
  • Shooting using mostly natural light.
  • Hiring a local crew instead of bringing your own. Hiring local on-camera talent, or in a documentary, allowing local voices to tell the story themselves.
  • Choosing to make a film with a local setting or subject matter: This connects a film company to its community, and can be a boon to local businesses.
  • Patronizing local camera stores, restaurants, and other businesses while shooting.
  • Distributing over the web rather than burning DVDs.
  • Turning off power when not using post-production equipment.

What else would make good environmental sense, without compromising the quality of your project? Are there film companies out there that are dedicated to producing media in “slow” ways?