Green Light On
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Before Gary Pearl, executive producer of the 2004 NBC miniseries 10.5, set out to cinematically destroy the environment with a massive earthquake, he wanted to make sure the set didn't contribute to, um, destroying the environment. To that end, his production company, Pearl Pictures, used only sustainably harvested wood, ditched Styrofoam for reusable dishes, and required workers to refill their water bottles, among other major changes.
By the looks of it, filming on environmentally friendly sets seems to be a growing Hollywood trend. Once known for its apathetic attitude, the industry is now doing everything from printing scripts on recycled paper to leasing hybrid cars. Last fall, the Environmental Media Association (EMA) awarded its first-ever Green Seal Awards, honoring productions that take initiatives such as using nontoxic building materials, clean diesel fuel, and low-emissions transportation. In addition to 10.5, winners included the feature films A Cinderella Story and Garden State and the sitcom According to Jim, which goes so far as to use tablet PCs instead of paper scripts. "In the third season of According to Jim," says Jeffrey Hodes, an executive producer, "we used nearly 300,000 sheets of paper. We've easily cut that in half."
Still, making a film set green can come with a price. For his 2004 adventure thriller The Day After Tomorrow, director Roland Emmerich shelled out $200,000 of his own money to ensure that the set would live up to his environmental standards. Pearl, who is sticking to his eco-friendly ways with the sequel to 10.5, currently in production, believes the practice will continue. "It's not hard to do this at all," he says. "Nobody is going to say, 'I want to pollute more.' "
"We're on a mission to make all of Hollywood green," says Debbie Levin, president of the EMA, which teams producers with groups like Future Forests that help companies reduce or "neutralize" CO2 emissions and take other environmental steps. Next year, Baldwin Entertainment Group is expected to release a film based on tree squatter Julia Butterfly Hill's best-selling book The Legacy of Luna, which co-producer Paul Bassis predicts will be shot on "the greenest set ever." One thing he's planning on: complete carbon neutrality. Stay tuned.