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Greening audiovisual productions

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Europe’s audio-visual industry makes an important contribution to Europe’s economy, with substantial job creation in film, television, and commercial sectors. However, the industry has a heavy carbon footprint, with significant emissions generated through transportation, construction, catering, and lighting, amongst other uses of energy.

The Green Screen project (2017-2021) explored good practices related to greening the film industry and developed eight local action plans for its partner regions. In 2020, we checked in with the project’s coordinator, Film London, and their Interreg Europe Pilot Action, the Grid Project, which has looked at providing sustainable energy to eight of the most used unit bases in London. Since then, much more has been achieved.

Eureca – European Environmental Calculator

Green Screen’s second pilot action is now also up and running – the European Environmental Calculator (Eureca) for Audio-Visual Productions, involving three partners: Promálaga, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), and the Slovak Film Commission.

Eureca is also developed in close collaboration with industry representatives and with scientific inputs from the Catholic University of Leuven and Workflowers (France). The pilot is developing an online instrument to measure the carbon footprint of AV productions and aims to increase awareness of the industry’s impact on the environment.

Green Screen demonstrated the crucial importance of an effective carbon assessment tool in the journey towards sustainable filming,” explained Luz Molina, of Promálaga. “We detected issues in existing calculators which we wanted to solve with Eureca, principally that they focused on assessing overall emissions, rather than supporting sustainable choices, and were not standardised or up-to-date.”

The eco-calculator contains a database of actions, allowing productions to map impacts as carbon impact units across different fields such as transport, electricity production and use, accommodation, materials, waste, and catering. It not only calculates CO2 impact but also looks at other impacts, such as water usage and toxicity.

This will allow the production to identify areas having the greatest impact, ready for intervention. Unlike other calculators which can measure impact after production is finished, Eureca will enable productions to make calculations from pre- to post-production.

Our tool helps productions to understand impact and the relative importance of different departments and allows for easy comparison of the environmental impact of logistic choices,” explained Molina. “Eureca has been tested and fine-tuned and is available for use. The main user groups are producers and their teams, independent eco-consultants, broadcasters, and audiovisual funds.”

Eureca has drawn the attention of the European Commission, which is looking to develop a common measuring protocol for the AV industry. Promálaga and VAF were invited to participate in a group of experts led by the EC, and from the various meetings, a common statement was signed by various organisations in the European audiovisual sector to join forces in the path to a greener European sector.

The Eureca partners are working closely with the Creative Europe programme, which supports the cultural and audiovisual sectors. Film industry stakeholders like EFARN, EFAD, The European Audiovisual Observatory, and the Green Regio network are also informed on a regular basis.

Regional policy improvements in production sustainability

As well as making progress in its second pilot, Green Screen partners have been implementing their action plans to improve policy frameworks.

  • In Belgium, the VAF has been invited to participate in a national strategic meeting on sustainability by the Ministry of Media, discussing the creation of a knowledge base with guidelines for the gaming industry. VAF will also embed the use of Eureca as a vital tool for sustainable film production, by informing their supported projects about green production, who will use Eureca as a monitoring tool. VAF will also share its approach with other Belgian and European stakeholders.
  • In Slovakia, the Film faculty of Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VSMU) has integrated sustainable filmmaking into its syllabus for the academic year 2021-2022. Project achievements have also been presented to the Slovak Ministry of Culture to inform its ‘Strategy for Culture and the Creative Industries 2030’, with the aim of integrating green filming. Under the Audiovisual Fund, producers that have received funding and started the production of their funded project, can apply for financial aid to support their environmental activities on the film set. Once support is given and the project completed, the producer needs to use and report through Eureca.
  • In Spain, Eureca has garnered the interest of other Spanish regions, which has resulted in the tool being translated into Catalan and Spanish to make it more inclusive. The main Spanish broadcaster, RTVE, has also shown its desire to support and use the Eureca calculation tool, as the only tool with institutional support that also crosses borders and can be used in European co-productions.

In recognition of the project’s achievements, Green Screen was nominated for a ‘Makers and Shakers Award’ at the end of 2022, which celebrates excellence in global production, highlighting innovative and impactful contributions made by production professionals. The project was nominated under the Sustainability Award category.

The project also held an online event, ‘The Future is Green’, to discuss main project findings and discuss with other professionals in the film industry – recordings are available here. For more information on Green Screen, visit the project website.