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Event report: Capacity Building Seminar in Tallinn – 24 November 2022

On 24 November, project partners CEPI, EBU, FIA, FIAPF, FIM and the Media, Entertainment & Arts sector of UNI Europa hosted the second capacity building seminar connecting producers, creators and other professionals from the European Audiovisual sector (AV) to sustainability experts and public institutions to exchange on what practices have been adopted, what inspirational examples are shaping the way to produce Film and audiovisual works cutting carbon emission and reducing the environmental impact of shootings. The event is the result of partners work under the framework of an EU financed project entitled “Strengthening capacities of social partners to meet the challenges of environmental sustainability in film and TV productions”.[1]

The seminar opened with an introductory speech by Piret Hartman, Estonian ministry of culture who emphasised the importance of this event which contributes to the construction of a sustainable industry ecosystem in line with the objectives of the European Green deal. Efforts and good practices sharing, reminded the minister, is essential. This is especially true in uncertain times like those we are currently living when events like this one show that everybody has a role to play.

[1] Project reference: (VP/2020/001/007920).

Following the same line, Charlotte Hurni, FIAPF Festivals Director explained that the challenge of making the film and audiovisual production sustainable lies with the collaboration of every part of the value chain involved in production. This is particularly true regarding suppliers. Despite the challenges, Charlotte continued, the European Union just as many national entities, are setting conditions to increase sustainable production practices

Daphne Tepper, Policy Director at UNI Europa thanked the organisers of the event as well as guests and particularly the PÖFF - Tallinn Film Festival for their extraordinary support and hosting provided. She underlined the important role of social dialogue in promoting long term and sustainable solutions to the key challenges faced by our industry including, of course, the challenge of greening our practices and processes.

The first expert to take the floor was Birgit Heidsiek, CEO of European Center for Sustainability in the Media World who presented the way Green Film Shootings a single platform and forum promotes and supports good practices in the domain of sustainable production. Birgit explained how since 2015 the industry has adopted sustainable practices in many different areas of production.

The adoption of green practices spans from waste management, transportation, energy consumption, set design to catering. However, a successful reduction of Film and Audiovisual works footprint depends by the planning of the production. The earlier the better, she emphasised. Another issue raised by Birgit Heidsiek related to what footprint needs to be considered, reminding the important impact of water footprint when measuring the impact of a production. New solutions as well as challenges arise with the technological development supporting production. On the one hand, mix reality studios, drones and other technologies help cutting carbon emissions but, on the other hand, online storage footprint for instance, with the necessity to cool servers, raise new questions over the need to define a lifecycle of a film, more concretely, up to when should a film be stored online?

The idea that carbon emissions are not the only thing to consider was further developed by Julia Tordai, founder of Green Eyes production – a consulting company supporting production meeting their sustainable ambitions. Julia emphasised how carbon calculators, like Albert, take into account all greenhouse gasses and convert them to a standard measurement using a CO2 basic unit for calculation. In addition to this, Julia welcomed the creation of the Eureka Calculator tool which also calculate the water footprint, the social impact of material used and food consumed during production.

Julia emphasised how reducing emissions is often seen as a possible additional cost for production. However, this isn’t the case! A sustainability expert supporting the production from an early stage of the production process, can make the difference also on the budget side, providing with her/his expertise adapted solutions depending to the type of production as well as location and supply availabilities. As an example, accompanying set designers in the use of materials – like substituting wood with cardboard – can have an enormous sustainable impact while reducing costs.

During the seminar, guest speakers enriched the participants with new ideas and best practices developed all around Europe. Anne Puolanne, Sustainability manager in Audiovisual Producers Finland (APFI) presented her work as a co-author of the Ekosetti guide, a free resource aimed at audiovisual professionals in Finland and beyond.

Anne said that it can be expected that in the future, sustainability consultants will no longer have a role to play. This is a hope based on the idea that in the future everybody will develop a sense of what is needed to reduce the environmental footprint of productions, and that implementing sustainable practices will be automatically taken into account.

In addition to a presentation of the Ekosetti Guide, Anne explained how the sustainability initiatives, guidance and support coordinated by APFI are backed (also financially) by a large group of organisations of the sector.

The Seminar continued with the intervention of Paulina Zacharek, founder of Momakin Studio, who presented a new initiative aiming at creating the first sustainable production guide for Stop Motion films.

Sustainable practices in animation differ from the ones proper to film production due to the specific technics, tools and work environment for animation. Paulina explained the way stop-motion in particular has its own processes going from the creation of the armature, the puppet, the landscape and the animation. Often stop-motion creation as in any other production needs to take into account from the planning phase a way to cut emissions and select materials with little impact on the environment. Within the StopMoLab and Animarkt, initiatives and good practices have already been explored for instance the reuse of landscapes for different productions or the reuse of puppets parts. Noteworthy is the remark Paulina made on young talent within the StopMoLab highlighting young animators’ ambition to be green and the consideration for the environmental footprint in their work.

The sustainable production guide for Stop Motion films, will be built on experiences and good practices already existing while proposing minimum standards. This guide will be freely available online but it will take some time to be released as it is still at its conception phase.

And closing the morning session, Elina Litvinova, producer at Three Brothers, brought to the participants a clear example of how green production practices have been implemented for the production of the Film “Estonia”, an Estonian, Swedish, Finnish and Belgian coproduction that took on the ambition to produce sustainably.

All departments followed a training on sustainable practices and a green memo was made available on set for all departments. Concretely, the production managed to reduce emission by reducing travel for instance using local crews and by opting for VFX rather that physical aerial filming. Considering that the story takes place on a ship, the production had to find alternatives to in-see location hence the decision was to produce a prop ship that would be deconstructed after shootings and use a reservoir to simulate the see.

The afternoon session opened with the presentation of the NEST “Northern European Sustainable coproduction Team up” presented by Daniel Chilla Film Commissioner for the Stockholm fund and creator of NEST.

NEST is a network involving 15 partners representing film commissions and production companies from Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Åland, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which aims at inspiring discussions, sharing and creating together best practices on sustainable production while mapping all available initiatives already developed in the region.

Presenting the Baltic area as a large production region, allows for an effective collaboration and reinforce each other true exchange. When coproducing, Daniel emphasised, lowering environmental impact of production is not evident. Travels are main CO2 contributors in production. Pulling resources from local production sets is essential to reduce carbon footprint. NEST considers that producing clear and comparable measurement is essential to understand the impact of the implementation of green practices. For this reason, Daniel Chilla suggested to establish a benchmark year, evaluating the total CO2 emissions and assess development from that point forward.

Commissioner for the Slovak Film fund – Zuzana Bielinková, presented the recently published Carbon Calculator tool – EURECA, developed by the Green Screen Interreg project – jointly implemented by Promalaga, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. The tool, presented as the most complete in term of measurements among those already available, was developed in collaboration with the Belgian university of KU Leuven. It takes into account 9 impact indicators going from Water footprint, CO2 emissions, social impact and human health.

Eureca, Zuzana added, is in its beginning and with time and via its users, it will improve measurements. As sustainability’s conditions are being introduced by numerous film funds at all level, this tool also provides the possibility to verify whether the data introduced in the system is compliant with the criteria requested by the film funds adhering to the initiative.

Last but not least, Luca Ferrario - Director of Trentino Film Commission and Vice-President Italian Film Commission presented the GreenFilm certificate, a rating system developed by the Trentino Film Commission and selected by Cineregio, the European network of regional film funds and the Italian Film Commission as a common certification tool for production’s sustainability.

GreenFilm is designed to provide producers with clear instructions devised with the purpose of changing daily work habits during the shooting. There are no measurements attached to it because the GreenFilm certification relies on the logic that adopting sustainability practices during the production will have a positive impact that can always be improved. This guidance is provided via a list of criteria that producers, supported by a sustainability consultant, will have to first plan and then implement during the production. The application to the GreenFilm certification is free of charge but the factual implementation of the practices planned and their effective roll out has to be verified by an independent auditor. Marta Codello – Gruppo Alcuni, is collaborating with the Italian Association of Audiovisual Producers APA and GreenFilm for the development of a green certification for animation as very little is available for the animation industry and where practices call for different assessment. Finally in 2023, an assessment of the results of the Green Film research lab will produce a LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) analysis that will assess the environmental and economic impact of the application of each criterion of the Green Film Rating System.

In his closing remarks, Thomas Dayan Deputy Secretary General of the international Federation of musicians- FIM, thanked the participants and speakers on behalf of all organising partners and reminded the importance of this project organised within the framework of the European social dialogue that has the value to bring together trade unions and workers’ organisation on subjects of prominent relevance such as sustainability. He reminded that the project will be carried out until April 2023 with 2 webinars that will take place in the coming months and a final event but before that, partner associations will publish a guide collecting available sustainable practices in Europe and create an online tool allowing to filter initiatives based on the country in which they are established.

David Donoghue, Chairman of Screen Producers Ireland, CEPI Board member, also thanked the participants and congratulated the great innovative approach taken by the speakers involved in the transformation of the industry toward a more sustainable future.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts sector of UNI Europa (EURO-MEI), European Audiovisual Production Association (CEPI), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Federation of Actors (FIA), the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) and the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), wish to thank all guest speakers as well as the participants for their commitment and all the initiatives taken to reduce the environmental impact of audio-visual production.

A special thanks goes to our guest speakers:

• Piret Hartman, Estonian Ministry of Culture

• Charlotte Hurni, FIAPF Festivals Director

• Daphne Tepper, Policy Director, UNI Europa

• Davide Gianluca Vaccaro, Project Coordinator

• Birgit Heidsiek, CEO of European Center for Sustainability in the Media World

• Julia Tordai, Green Eyes Production

• Anne Puolanne, Sustainability manager in Audiovisual Producers Finland (APFI) co-author of Ekosetti guide

• Paulina Zacharek, Founder of Momakin Studio

• Elina Litvinova, Producer, Three Brothers

• Daniel Chilla, Film Commissioner, Film Stockholm

• Zuzana Bieliková, Film Commissioner, Slovak Film Fund/ Slovak Film Commission

• Luca Ferrario, Director of Trentino Film Commission and Vice-President Italian Film Commission

• Thomas Dayan, Deputy Secretary General, FIM

• David Donoghue, Chairman of Screen Producers Ireland, CEPI Board member

This project has received funding from the European Union. Reference VS/2021/0019


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