– The fund is seeking to raise awareness of the CO₂ impact of individual film projects among creators and mitigate the industry’s carbon footprint

The Netherlands Film Fund furthers efforts to encourage more sustainable productions

The inaugural inspiration session on improving the sustainability of film productions, which took place in Amsterdam on 14 September 2023 (© Netherlands Film Fund)

While achieving sustainability in the audiovisual sector has been an uphill battle across Europe, with emissions in certain carbon-intensive areas of production still being stubbornly high, the Netherlands Film Fund’s efforts seek to raise more awareness of the CO₂ impact of individual film projects among creators and mitigate the industry’s carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint of a feature-film production can be considerable. A report from the European Commission, “Greening the Audiovisual Industry. The Best Strategies and Their Costs”, estimates an average of 192 tonnes of CO₂ for one European feature-film production, which is equivalent to the average emissions of ten households per year. These estimates do not include big international (co-)productions that warrant a greater environmental impact owing to transport and travel across countries, reaching several thousand tonnes of CO₂, the report states. The data compiled in a Screen New Deal report, carried out by BAFTA’s albert, the BFI and Arup, show that one average production of a tentpole film emits around 2,840 tonnes of CO₂. According to another report, prepared by the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA) to provide insights into the “high-impact areas”, such as Los Angeles, New York and London, a tentpole film production incurs a carbon footprint of 3,370 metric tonnes on average, while emissions of large films constitute some 1,081 metric tonnes. 

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Dutch producers committed to making the production of their feature film more sustainable may now apply for the fund’s support in the development phase. This support is offered to feature-film projects through compensation for an eco-consultant (which can happen either as part of a special eco-consultancy process with the participation of GreenScreen eco-consultants who collaborate with the fund, or through independent hiring of an eco-consultant). This collaboration includes the discussion of the project’s production needs and sustainability choices, and should also inform the project’s predicted footprint of production (expected CO₂ emissions are calculated using the albert carbon calculator) and the carbon action plan, both of which have become mandatory from 2024 when submitting an application for further realisation of the project. If the feature is also supported in the realisation phase, the fund offers compensation for the deployment of an eco-manager (which may be included in the production budget) who supervises the sustainability process in the realisation phase, remaining actively involved during filming. The new sustainability rules have taken effect for feature-film projects submitting a development application from November 2023. 

Research manager and communications projects leader at the Netherlands Film Fund Jonathan Mess underlined in an audio report from 2023 that awareness was a vital aspect in enhancing sustainability practices in Dutch film production. In the third quarter of 2023, a series of inspiration sessions, facilitated by the fund, was launched, offering a platform for the sector to present and learn from best practices of sustainably shot film productions and address shared sustainability quandaries, such as energy use. The inaugural inspiration session on improving the sustainability of film productions took place in the north of Amsterdam on 14 September 2023 in view of the fund’s newly introduced sustainability policy. Gathering some 50 film producers and other professionals in the field, the event presented a programme with the overarching theme of “starting early and collaborating more”, put together by sustainability manager Els Rientjes, of Green Filmmaking. A workshop and a case study on the feature Narcosis [+see also:
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by Martijn de Jong were at the heart of the event, with sustainability manager Tirsa van der Laan of Green Plan and producer Trent of Amsterdam-based OAK Motion Pictures unpacking the process of preparing a sustainable production in just seven steps, starting off with shaping a common “sustainability identity” – and getting the production team and main crew involved in the process – to map out focus areas and achievable sustainability goals to work towards as a group, which will hopefully result in an action plan that is geared towards sustainable solutions. Three new inspiration sessions are planned for 2024 and are set to take place at the end of the year. 

The fund’s sustainability measures reflect ardent recommendations by researchers and sustainability managers, who advocate introducing sustainability as early as in the development phase of a project and stimulating the transition by making said sustainability more accessible through knowledge sharing, holding awareness-raising meetings with the team and crew, using carbon-calculating tools, and reimbursing hours put into making productions more sustainable. In line with the present sustainability policy, the fund is also set to organise courses to train more eco-managers this year and lend support to initiatives that develop activities intent on making film productions more sustainable. At the end of 2024, the fund plans to evaluate its sustainability policy and determine how the support can be further expanded.

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