This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Green Filmmaking And Studio Worm Farms

Visiting a country like New Zealand both reconnected me with nature and reminded me of all the beauty there is in the world. I’m a nature girl and not afraid to admit that I’m a passionate tree-hugger. In fact, I joked to the Kiwis that I would need a separate photo album for all the TREES of New Zealand I’d photographed. It seems I took more photos of trees than anything else.

For me, there’s no greater pleasure than traipsing through nature’s playground. When I was about twelve, I read and re-read a book called “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The World.”

I followed every tip and every guideline. I planted lettuce in my backyard, I recycled everything, and to my parent’s chagrin, I even made my own recycled paper (utilizing the family blender.) From then on, smoothies made in that blender always had an extra boost of “pulp”—and we’re not talking pulp of the fruit variety. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the world, but I didn’t fail either. I did my part, and I continue to investigate ways that I can increase my participation in saving the world.

Of course, An Inconvenient Truth showed all the naysayers that environmentalism isn’t dead and tree huggers can, in fact, be cool. One beautiful thing about travel is learning and experiencing the other ways that people approach the world we all share. When I visited South Pacific Pictures, a film production company based in Auckland, New Zealand, I was amazed to hear the Studio Manager, Karen Shaw, mention that they had a “worm farm” right there on the studio lot.

“A worm farm?”, I thought in amazement.

Imagine pitching that idea to Paramount or Universal or any of the major studio lots here in Los Angeles. They’d be more likely to greenlight Waterworld 2: Investigating Mars or something like that. Not only did South Pacific Pictures boast a worm farm, but they were ecologically-conscious every step of the way in their approach toward filmmaking, and they are looking toward becoming a “zero carbon emissions” studio.

I get annoyed on American film sets when I see the amount of waste: aluminum cans thrown in with the craft service garbage, half-full bottles of water left abandoned by crew, protein bar wrappers gone with the wind… Sometimes I collect the recyclable bottles and cans myself, but I can’t save them all and I can’t save the world all by myself.

The point is that if all of us did something, perhaps all of us together could save the world. That means corporations… that means filmmakers…and that means individuals like you and me and the rest of the world.

Like the media, the entertainment industry and filmmaking professionals have the power and the influence to help create change and, in essence, help save the world. Organizations like the Environmental Media Association (EMA),, seeks “to educate people about environmental issues and inspire them into action.” Since 1989, EMA has even pitched environmental storylines to producers and writers of television and film programs to encourage them to touch on environmentalism within entertainment.

New Mexico was recently profiled in The Los Angeles Times as a state on the brink of a filmmaking boom-- boasting various financial incentives and resources for filmmakers in addition to their offers of "homespun New Mexican film friendliness." Apart from all of this, New Mexico has come to my attention for another reason, their Green Filmmaking Initiative – a voluntary program to encourage film and television productions to “Go Green.”

New Mexico will help productions with things such as establishing recycling programs, utilizing organic products and environmentally-friendly building materials, and donating unwanted items to local schools and other charity organizations. Currently, there’s no mention of worms crawling around in compost at the New Mexico Film Office, BUT through education and encouragement, and with the offer of even more incentives for green productions, New Mexico is leading the way toward more eco-friendly filmmaking. That’s something I’d like to see from more film commissions, production companies, studios, and filmmakers!

*The content of this post was recently published on the Los Angeles Edition of BrooWaha at:
*ABOVE PHOTO taken by Kendra Liedle -- "Trees of Pauanui" ( New Zealand )

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