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Focus Features Keeps It Green With "Complicated"

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Incaseyadidntknow, the incredibly reputable production house and distributor Focus Features is actually the art house film division of NBC Universal.  Among the myriad award-winning films they have produced is uber-green film Away We Go. In conjunction with NBCU’s Green is Universal Week, FilmInFocus caught up with Meredith Bergmann of Green Media Solutions, the company that works with Universal to get green. Most recently she worked on Nancy Meyers’ holiday comedy, It’s Complicated (starring Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep & Steve Martin) and she talked in good detail about the green efforts on-set.

“The goal with It’s Complicated was to try to apply sustainable filmmaking practices to a major motion picture and to figure out what the obstacles are,” says Bergmann. She noted that the difference in scale between Away We Go and It’s Complicated brought to light new issues that the filmmakers, Universal and Green Media Solutions attempted to address.

“We started to realize how important the role of set dressing was when the production used one ton of produce in order to recreate a farmers market. Normally a portion of the produce would be given away, but, however, most would be discarded and would end up as landfill. So, instead, over one ton of fruits and vegetables used during the Santa Barbara farmer’s market scene was…donated to Casa Esperanza, a local soup kitchen in Santa Barbara. That ton of food fed 500 people for a week.”

She also notes that NBCU has teamed up with Rock and Wrap it Up, who will find beneficiaries for all edible leftover food from their productions. “This initiative will: fight poverty by helping to reduce hunger; improve our environment by diverting waste from landfills; and reduce the production’s bottom line by reducing waste disposal costs.”

They also piloted an alternative fuels program during the It’s Complicated production in which they used biodiesel for principle production but also for lighting the stage. Bergmann says, “From May through the end of June we used biodiesel, B20, for both generators for the main stage. There was no flickering. Nobody noticed, nobody knew.” The next step, I’d say, is to tell them and slake any ridiculous fears that biodiesel is any less effective than petro. Just my two cents…

Bergmann also talks about the green efforts over at Jimmy Fallon and SNL as well as the release of the Green is Universal Sustainable Film and Television Production Guide which you can download. Check out the whole article at FilmInFocus.com.

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