The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

April 8, 2009

Future Weather – My Interview with an Eco-Conscious Filmmaker

Thanks to Green L.A. Girl Siel for pointing out a Philadelphia filmmaker who wants to change the way movies are made.

Jenny Deller wrote the script for the film, Future Weather, a drama centered around a teenage girl who is not only worried about the future of the planet but also the changes taking place within her own family. In an email to me, Jenny wrote:

Essentially, Future Weather is a story about leaving home and facing change, a rite of passage that I think will be necessary for our society to confront the uncertainty of a changing planet. Part of my desire to tell this story came from my own anxiety about global warming and questions I had about procreation in the 21st century — how do you bring children into such a compromised and potentially dire situation?

What attracted me to this project, even more than the theme of the film itself, was Jenny’s blog and her concern with conducting a movie shoot (scheduled for this summer) as greenly and as plastic-free as possible. In fact, plastic is a category on The Future Weather Report blog. So I decided to ask Jenny some questions about how she thought she’d handle environmental issues while shooting this film. Here are some things she told me.

Beth: What challenges do you see in terms of environmental impact?

Jenny: A film crew is like a band of gypsies, carrying large loads of equipment from place to place and setting up camp. Because we have multiple locations, we will depend on cars (crew members provide their own), vans and a box truck or two, for transportation. My fantasy is to drive a fleet of vehicles fueled by recycled vegetable oil, but even if we could get the bio-diesel cheaply, renting that number of diesel vehicles is definitely cost-prohibitive.

Shooting on location also means we probably won’t be able to control other energy variables. We’ll most likely be borrowing electricity or generating it with portable, gas-fueled generators. Catered meals will need to be transported in (as opposed to cooked on-set or at a studio). And waste will need to be sorted and dropped off in various locales (as opposed to getting picked up on a regular civic route.)

Beth: What specific steps do you plan to take to mitigate the impact? (You mentioned banning bottled water on the set. That’s a good one. How will you manage to have water on the set without plastic bottles?)

Jenny: In terms of transportation, our goal is to get our hands on at least one vehicle that can run on bio-diesel. We will also ask people to carpool to set as much as possible, and we’ll look into a potential sponsorship from the company who makes The Blade, a tail-pipe attachment. Putting one of those on every car we drive could cut our emissions by 12% and improve gas mileage by 34%.

To eliminate plastic water bottles, our tentative plan is to use good old-fashioned insulated water jugs (remember soccer practice?) that we will fill with tap water as needed, on-location. Crew members will be asked to BYOWB – bring their own (reusable) water bottle. The logic is that a water bottle should be considered part of your professional tool kit.

Establishing a comprehensive waste sorting and disposal plan is also really important to me. Our priorities will be to reduce, reuse and recycle (in that order) every material possible, and if the logistics of our catering situation allow, compost as well. It would also be nice to put that compost back into the eco-systems we utilized (for food, locations, etc.) so we close the loop and give back to the people and places that hosted our production.

Beth: What do you think are the 1-3 most important things each of us can do to lower our impact on the planet?

Jenny: I probably can’t offer many tips that you and your readers haven’t already discussed. Instead, why don’t I recommend two films and a short story that made a huge impact on my understanding of current environmental issues…

“The Daughters of the Moon”, by Italo Calvino, is a beautiful allegory about our culture of consumption and disposal. Amazingly, it was written in the ’60s but rings truer than ever today.

Manufactured Landscapes follows photographer Edward Burtynsky as he documents the industrial ground zero that China has become. Stunning and mind-boggling images.

Flow: For Love of Water is an angering but ultimately energizing and inspiring documentary about water and who controls it. You quickly see how we cannot afford to take this resource for granted, especially when so many communities are fighting to access it and industrial pressures are mounting.

Beth: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the film?

Jenny: It’s truly a grassroots endeavor. We’ve gotten this far with the contributions of friends and volunteers, an ever-expanding group we call the Future Weather Love Brigade. We’d love to keep building our network of support, so please join us!

If you think this film sounds like a great idea, there are several ways you can help ensure that it gets made, from volunteering your talents to contributing suggestions and donations.

1) Join the mailing list.

2) Subscribe to The Future Weather Report blog.

3) Make friends with Future Weather on Facebook.

4) Email Jenny at jdeller[at]futureweathermovie[dot]com to arrange for a special viewing of the finished film for your community group, school or non-profit.

5) And last, but definitely not least, you can purchase beautiful organic shirts and shopping bags made from reused T-shirts and patches illustrated by Anthropologie designer e bond.

About the bags, Jenny says, “Producing them was a very small community affair. My friend e illustrated the patches and we had them printed by a small arts collective, Space 1026, in Philly’s Chinatown. Then I cut the bags, and my friend Nancy sewed them on her sewing machine. They turn cool used t-shirts into little works of art.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see this film and am following Jenny’s journey through the blog. It’s rare these days that the message and the method are so compatible.

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14 years ago

That’s a brilliant idea! Upon reading this post, I remembered my nephew who is 7 years old and is so worried of the thinning of the Ozone Layer. He kept on telling us to not use the aircon so much because of the chloro-fluoro-carbon that thins the Ozone Layer. He is so worried and I pity him that at this age, he knows so much that it worries him. He actually mentioned a film which is upcoming it’s about the end of the world. He worries too much because he knows so much. But somehow it helps that he knows a lot that he is aware of what’s good from bad. He knows that plastics are not eco-friendly. He knows where to throw his trash. He cares so much about the future and at this young age, he doesn’t have to be worrying too much.

14 years ago

Interesting idea!! :)

I’ve read that in the past filmmakers were one of the ‘worst’ when it comes to environment, so this is definitely inspiring to read!!

I hope many more filmmakers start doing things this way – an inspiring sight is also what the ‘3Rs’ singer does on his tours, with organic local catering etc.

I hope this really becomes a mainstream trend!!