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Going Green 1 Running Head: GOING GREEN

Going Green On The Big Screen: The Film Industry’s Response to the Green Movement

Nate Acosta, Jen Montrose, and Erin Silva Dr. Costello | COM 495 B: Great Ideas/Capstone


Going Green 2 Abstract In recent years, the green movement has swiftly snowballed into a gigantic force in our lives. This paper examines the movement’s filtration into the film industry. Industry organizations, production studios, actors, and cinemas are all working to achieve a greener profile, but the industry as a whole remains very toxic.


Going Green 3 Going Green On The Big Screen: The Film Industry’s Response to the Green Movement

After decades of roaming like tumbleweed in the dust, the green movement is undergoing a vibrant blossoming as its cost-saving and fewer carbon emissions principles spread faster than kudzu across the economic landscape into virtually all organizations. The film industry is not unaffected, already embracing many green practices, evident through awards for environmentally-friendly productions, green messaging, strong actor endorsement, and the introduction of sustainable movie theatres. While these actions indicate the industry is serious about going green, the path to sustainability is a long one and the film industry has a lot of potential to lower its environmental impact. Industry Organizations The film industry knows award shows garner superior media attention and organizers have used the opportunity to promote the green agenda with green carpets at many events and even used recycled products to create statues at the 59th Annual Emmy Awards. While film fanatics and award-show-junkies may have noticed the recent green additions, perhaps few are aware of the Environmental Media Association (EMA) Awards, which last year held its 18th annual ceremony. The EMA honors films, television shows, documentaries, and animations with Green Seals to honor low-impact and sustainable production practices (Greer, 2009). Some immediate steps the EMA encourages productions to implement include recycling, reusing, and donating set materials, using biodiesel generators, appointing an environmental assistant responsible for lessening overall power consumption on sets, and reducing unnecessary travel. Films and television shows such as An Inconvenient Truth, Into The Wild, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Incredible Hulk, Mad Men, HGTV Green Home 2008, 24, My Name Is Earl, Bones, American Idol Finale, and even Super Bowl XLII and the 2008 Teen Choice Awards have all


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received Green Seals. While EMA awards productions with green practices, some organizations are working to promote the green agenda after the cameras stop rolling. Production Studios And Green Messaging Using its capabilities as a mass media, some studios are implementing green messaging into their productions. In a partnership with The Conservation Fund, Universal Studios launched the “Get On Board,” campaign during the release of Evan Almighty, a 2007 comedy starring Steve Carell as a modern-day Noah in a plot to rebuild the arc and save Earth’s creatures. At an online “Almighty Forest”, viewers donated money and planted virtual trees; for every five trees planted online, The Conservation Fund planted one, eventually planting more than 2,200 trees. According to The Conservation Fund director Jena Thompson, “this was the first time we’ve seen a major motion picture invite fans and everyday Americans to give back to the environment . . . It’s through relationships such as this that the organization has the ability to engage a whole new audience that wasn’t there before,” (Schmelzer, 2007). Other studios are incorporating subtle green messages into productions’ storylines: Animated penguins warned viewers of the impacts of industrial overfishing in Warner Bros. Entertainment’s Oscar-Winning Happy Feet, Pixar Animation Studios’ Wall-e follows the adventures of two robots designed to clean up a deserted, trash-laden Earth and roam the planet for plant life, and in Showtime’s Golden-Globe winning Weeds, Mary Louise Parker’s character Nancy Botwin trades in her gasguzzling Land Rover for a Toyota Prius. With the green agenda filtrating through several production companies on a variety of projects, it’s no wonder EMA President Debbie Levin said “green is transcending from a trend to becoming a way of life within the entertainment industry” (Schmelzer, 2007).


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Actors Going Green Industry organizations and production studios are not the only ones promoting the green agenda. Actors such as Lenoardo DiCaprio and Ed Begley Jr. are also taking a stand on the issue. From participating in Live Earth, an annual worldwide music event designed to combat climate change, to creating an eco-friendly and energy efficient apartment in New York City, DiCaprio has one of the leading roles in the sustainability effort (Song, 2007). In addition, DiCaprio inspired millions to join the green movement in his film The 11th Hour, which stresses the need for small changes by everyone. If everyone would just help out a little bit, the world’s current emissions could be reduced by 90 percent, according to the film. Begley Jr. is another actor turned-activist and a proponent of taking action against environmental issues. Starring in HGTV’s reality series Living with Ed, a show revolving around Begley Jr.’s green obsession and his green home, complete with nine solar panels an electricity-generating stationary fitness bike, a recycled white picket fence, and an electric truck in the garage, Begley Jr. inspires viewers with his lifelong passion for sustainability. Green Theatres In addition to industry organizations, production studios, and actors, movie theatres are also pushing the green agenda. The Sundance Group has two eco-friendly theaters and hopes to expand more across the nation within the following years. The organization’s Kabuki Theater in San Francisco features auditorium seating made from recycled plastic, a lobby designed from recycled timber and bamboo, compostable corn-based beverage containers and “spudware,” – disposable materials made from potatoes (Everett, 2007). Another example of green big screens is Cineplex Entertainment’s Brantford, Ontario theatre, which features a reflective white roof


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that reduces heat levels and lowers air conditioning needs, waterless urinals, and a bicycle rack to encourage employees and patrons to bike to the theatre (Marketwire, 2008).” The green agenda is flourishing at many levels – from production sets to distribution, and with organizations and actors supporting sustainable practices. However, the industry has a long ways to go. A study from the Institute of the Environment at the University of California at Los Angeles examined the carbon footprint of that state’s economy and discovered that the film and television industry’s 8.4 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions placed Hollywood as the second-most polluting industry in California (Thompson, 2007). The reasons for the pollution are numerous: a movie requires moving large numbers of people and equipment to a remote location, burning diesel fuel to run generators which power lights and other equipment, and special effects explosions are just some of the reasons why the industry is so toxic. With time, perhaps the industry will be able to eliminate itself from the top-ten list of polluting CA industries.


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Works Cited Everett, I. (2007, December 25). Eco-friendly Sundance Cinema Opens in San Fran. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from AboutMyPlanet.com: http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/environment/eco-friendly-sundance/ Greer, D. (2009). Awarding Awareness. Millimeter , 28. Schmelzer, R. (2007, October 1). Hollywood Turns A Deeper Shade of Green. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from PrWeekUs.com: http://www.prweekus.com/Hollywood-turns-a-deepershade-of-green/article/57820/ Song, V. (2007, May 24). Eco-Friendly and Famous; Actor and Activist Ed begley Jr. Says Being Environmentally Friendly Starts With 'Picking The Low-Hanging Fruit'. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from London Free Press: http://www.lfpress.ca/newsstand/ News/International/2008/04/20/5336316-sun.html Sourtzis, G. (2008, October 23). Galaxy Cinemas Brantford Opens Friday November 7th. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from MarketWire.com: http://www.marketwire.com/pressrelease/Cineplex-Entertainment-TSX-CGX.UN-912855.html Thompson, A. (2007). Studios Go Green, Scene By Scene. Daily Variety , 6.


Going Green On The Big Screen  

In recent years, the green movement has swiftly snowballed into a gigantic force in our lives. This paper examines the movement’s filtratio...

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