Environmental quality is a value that Film Commissions are called upon to protect by vocation and due to their across- the-board nature that touches on culture, tourism and economic development: these are the words of the president of the Italian Film Commissions, Stefania Ippoliti, who confirms the association’s commitment to identifying tools that can direct audiovisual entrepreneurs towards adopting environmentally sustainable practices.
It is a journey that has found a “traveling companion” in Edison (currently the only company, in Italy, to have defined a green protocol): the first but not the only one, hopes Ippoliti, demonstrating the association’s openness to contributions from all subjects involved, with a view to creating new professional figures (eco-managers?).
Ippoliti’s demarcation line is the underlying question: should we reward those who respect the environment, or punish those who do not?
The guest Film Commissions discussed the topic: to incentivize or disincentivize?
In Trentino, a region where a lot has been done in terms of promoting sustainability, this attention is also being applied to audiovisuals thanks to the Ecomovie project, a startup that offers environmental sustainability consultancy services to theatrical productions, with particular regard to the application of the sustainability certification protocols already developed and utilized in a European context.
“The objective of our work is to promote environmental sustainability on theatrical sets, with a type of consultancy that aims to establish a rewarding mechanism that incentivizes theatrical productions that intend to take a green approach”, says Corrado Menegatti, one of the founding members, “My colleagues and I (Stefano Boscherini and Giorgia D’Annibale) are experts in sustainability, we have taken different routes: they trained in environmental certification, on building sites and in bio-building, whereas I was trained in regional qualitative research and sustainability communication. We will be following our first production in April, and it is our intention to transfer our expertise to sets, making use of existing networks (using 0 Km and eco-friendly food and catering services, for example)”.
For Luca Ferrario, co-director of the Trentino Film Commission, Ecomovie is the “missing element of our panorama which is necessary in order to realize an aspect that appears banal but requires a considerable amount of work in Italy, and that is an audiovisual fund which indicates a clear pathway for marrying sustainability and production, establishing a rewarding mechanism. In this phase I believe that direct incentives are crucial and that it is not enough to indicate the right path, because very few producers and directors are willing to follow it”.
Enrico De Lotto of the Torino Piemonte Film Commission is of the same opinion: “it is necessary, above all, to use economic levers to help productions understand that eco-sustainable behaviors lead to savings. The theatrical industry, by nature, is not very attentive to the environment and tends to be rather ‘wasteful’: only an incentivizing action can make up for this lack of vocation”.
Gianluca della Campa of Edison also highlights the economic dimension of sustainability: “Sustainability is, first and foremost, an entrepreneurial opportunity. Just think of the savings derived from substituting the classic generator (that generally has a fixed cost for the hire, driver and fuel, that fluctuates between 3 and 6 thousand Euros a week) with a temporary connection to the power grid which costs 750 Euros a month to supply the same amount of energy.
The productions of “Human Capital” by Paolo Virzì, “Greenery will bloom again” by Ermanno Olmi and “Il ricco, il povero e il maggiordomo” by Aldo Giovanni e Giacomo, saved something between 70 and 80 thousand Euros per film on these costs alone, also getting a better service because, with the power grid, there are no sudden changes in voltage and background noise is minimized.
In Marche the cinema, sustainability, region and promotion solution has been consolidated by the creation of a fund for the promotion of the landscape through audiovisual products, “a tool that has allowed us to bring the beauty, history and uniqueness of the Marche to the world”, says Anna Olivucci, manager of the Marche Film Commission, “with the involvement of local young professionals that we have trained with great determination albeit with limited funds”.
“More common sense, fewer protocols”: this basically sums up the opinion of Alessandro Bonifazi, whose Blue Film produced the documentary feature “Sul Vulcano” by Gianfranco Pannone, filmed in the national park of Vesuvius, adopting green practices, subsequently renamed by the production itself “the Vesuvius protocol”.
“For the location hunting we arrived by train from Naples, then we hired Euro 5 cars on site. For the filming we just used quite a large van, into which we squeezed all the technical equipment, plus a people carrier for the 10 strong crew, all of which reduced our CO2 consumption.
On set we ate 0 Km sandwiches, bought from the little towns dotted around Vesuvius, and we brought our own bags for recycling. We made a lot of sacrifices in order to avoid being invasive, and also for this reason the Osservatorio Vesuviano and the park gave us their full collaboration”.
Collaborations between organizations, parks, public administration and productions that the Film Commission can strengthen and make less episodic throughout Italy, through the networking of the resources available and the best practices.
In fact, the Italian experiences presented in Cagliari show that a regular “green cluster” is taking shape, i.e. a collection of practices generated by the individual regions increasingly looking for integration, that become a ‘Made in Italy green system’.