GPFO: going green on the silver screen

By Christina Michaluk
September 25, 2008

The Greater Philadelphia Film Office (GPFO) hosted “The Green Screen” event at the Prince Theatre on Sept. 8, 2008.

A buzz filled the room as people filed in, not sure what the event would bring to an already hot topic of going green. What does it really mean to go green in the film industry?

The GPFO brought together various members of the film community as well as environmentalists alike to shed light on ways to make the film business more environmentally friendly.

A diverse panel of environmentalists, businessmen and filmmakers took the stage to talk about the industry and ways to improve it. The event helped to strategize on how to make the film process less wasteful.

Green vendors, such as the Pita Pit came to show their support and sponsor the event.

Ben Kalina, a panelist for the night, spoke of how it is possible to create an all green film. He spoke of a project that he worked on that was filmed with completely green products and still had the same results as the other equipment that he is used to.

“The film industry is one of the most wasteful industries today,” Kalina said. “There are plenty of ways to go green, but people don’t realize some of the options that they have when they are filming. Some of those options can also be costly, but you just have to look for the deals.”

Major concerns are arising that going green is a growing problem for independent filmmakers today. The costs for production are soaring in an already expensive industry.

Panelist Hal Shaffer, president of Solarworks, a solar energy company, shared how his company is part of a team which is developing a Studio Centre in Norristown, Pa. where renewable energy is available as well as other film products that are more environmentally friendly.

“If I can help educate the film industry on how we can save CO2 gases and save on electricity expenses at the same time, that is a good thing,” Shaffer said.

Tips such as using available lighting and florescent bulbs instead of using tungsten bulbs were some of the ideas that panelists offered. Another idea was to cut back on driving to the sets. People are looking into renting hybrid cars or even possibly renting smart cars.

“Our main goal tonight is not to completely change the way the film industry thinks about the environment, but it is our goal to get them to think about the choices that they make everyday on their sets,” GPFO Director of Marketing Nicole Ross said.

Audience members also brought up their concerns for all of the waste that accumulates from simple things such as water bottles. According to the filmmakers in the audience, the most waste that they find on set are large amount of water bottles.

“You can’t separate the two things. If you are going to be serious about the environment you have to be serious about film. I bring together both of my passions to produce something that is worth it,” Kalina said.

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Christina Michaluk

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