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This is the way to make films eco-friendly – interview with Gábor Harmat

This is the way to make films eco-friendly – interview with Gábor Harmat

One of the biggest topics of the 21st century is environmental pollution. Studios, productions, and filming, in general, tend to be one of the biggest CO2 emissions in the world. Fortunately, some of them started a new wave with revolutionary solutions.

In the Budapest based Origo Studios the heat from burning the garbage is converted into steam, from which electricity is produced. Not to mention, the heat is also used to produce hot water through an exchanger. In winter, they warm up the studio with it, and in the summer the energy generated in the incinerator is used to power the air conditioner.

To know more about this topic, Budapest Reporter had an interview with Gábor Harmat, who is a member of the movement, FILM IN GREEN.

Budapest ReporterSo, how did this whole movement started?

Gábor Harmat – There are 4 of us in FILM IN GREEN. Szabina Győri, who is from the filming world, and Barbara Nemes-Jeles who studied Environment in school, and who deals with environmental protection. Péter Stern is an eco-lawyer and I’m a screenwriter. We all share the same thought on this topic and we want to raise awareness about environmental problems. We took part in a half-year long workshop through Climate-KIC, where we could share our ideas and thoughts with lots of startups, and figured out a way to proceed on. Our goal is to make people think about and try to reduce the CO2 emissions in filming.

The steam turbine

The generator which produce electricity from steam in Origo Studios.

BPRHow do movies and productions affect the environment?

G.H. – It depends on the movie. Obviously, the lights, cameras, data carriers use a lot of energy. Meanwhile, the bigger productions have their crews and stars fly around in airplanes, private jets to foreign destinations, islands, etc. These leave a huge ecological footprint.

BPRBut, what can productions do to make a notable difference?

G.H. – Actually, production companies are starting to take this into account. It is a common thing now to have a sustainable manager on every production. His or her job is to ask around about how many plastic bottles have the set used today or ask what car they used to come to set, things like this help them calculate how much did they pollute the environment. And, if they can calculate the amount of waste, maybe next time they can reduce it. There are organizations, who plant trees equal to the produced CO2. The production tells them how much CO2 they’ve generated, and these organizations calculate how many trees they have to plant to balance out the numbers. It’s pretty amazing, right? Also, I know that in some shootings, the actors and the crew plant trees as therapy. They don’t always just party or go to a pub as a recreational activity, but help the environment and it calms them as well. Unfortunately, in filming, there are a lot of pointless decisions, and with these, they can limit them. For example, going to a different country just for one scene, when you could have done it in a studio nearby. They do it for the authenticity and the quality of the movie, but sometimes it’s just pointless.

Heat excsanger system, Origo Studios

The heat exchanger system in Origo Studios.

BPRWhat do you think, how long does it take for everyone to adjust to these methods? There are probably a lot of production companies still, who don’t really care about these solutions.

G.H. – The bigger companies are already started to adjust. If you look at Warner Bros., Universal, Disney, all of them have „green” departments. They started to think about this already and do everything they can. Oil companies and lobbies like these are the ones who don’t really care about the environment. But filming is a prestigious profession. If they start doing it like this, people will be like: „Wow, this is so cool, if they can do it, maybe I could do it too.” Just imagine if everyone on set would bring themselves their plates and not use plastic ones, that could make a huge change in the bigger picture. Obviously, if filming goes totally green, that still won’t change the global problem, but it would be a good start.

BPRCan films help in raising awareness about environmental issues?

G.H. – I think so, at least right now something is happening. I want to add, this is only the beginning. You could see David Attenborough with Greta Thunberg on BBC. Leonardo DiCaprio did his own thing as well, but this is not enough. Even though we think that everything is good, the situation is not. As long as we keep on ignoring the fact, that we are destroying our own world, no change will be done. Do not fear, it won’t be as quick as it was in the movies like “The Day After Tomorrow” or “2012”. The eco-system is a little bit more complicated than that, but they can definitely help raise awareness. If someone’s favorite actor does something for the environment, maybe they will have a change of mind, and act as such.

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