How VIFF is going green

The festival's first-ever Sustainable Production Forum will discuss best practices for environmentally responsible productions, like Vancouver-shot The X-Files.

When The X-Files returned to Vancouver last year to shoot the highly anticipated tenth season, the series not only committed to discovering if the truth is really out there, it committed to doing so in an environmentally responsible manner.

On Oct. 7, the Vancouver International Film Festival will host its first-ever Sustainable Production Forum, with X-Files creator Chris Carter delivering a keynote on the benefits of sustainable production. Carter will also be presented with VIFF’s Industry Builder Award, which recognizes key contributors to B.C.’s creative industries, for his work on The X-Files.

The Forum, which is presented by Creative BC, will also include panels and discussions on sustainability featuring executives from Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal, as well as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the World Bank’s Connect4Climate group and the Vancouver Economic Commission.

“The event is designed to educate, inspire, give practical tips and share examples of local and international productions that foster sustainable production practices and methodologies … which have resulted in both cost savings and better environmental footprints and impacts,” explained Creative BC CEO Prem Gill in an interview with Playback Daily.

In a case study on the environmental initiatives of the X-Files reboot, “Little Green Men: Sustainable Production on ‘The X-Files,’” the report found that the production not only diverted more than 81% of its total waste from the landfill, it also generated nearly $41,000 in cost savings.

Forum attendees will learn about many sustainable production best practices, said Gill, such as implementing a no-idling policy for all set vehicles, sourcing recycled materials for set design, and reducing the use of water bottles on set.

“People are on sets a long time, so have big jugs of water around,” Gill offered as an example. This simple measure saved the X-Files production nearly $35,000, the report estimates.

While implementing green policies on production is not currently mandatory, Sustainable Production Forum creative director Zena Harris (who also served as the sustainable production consultant on the X-Files reboot) adds that many of the Hollywood studios mandate that their productions hit certain targets – which has a trickle-down effect on productions in Vancouver. 

“The larger studios out of L.A. are major clients in Vancouver and they have internal mandates to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and waste and water [usage],” she said. “Every major show here is tracking emissions and waste.”

She added, “In Vancouver, we have the tools that shows can take advantage of and we have products and services that can certainly help with reduction and environmental impact.” She pointed to Reel Green, an initiative supported by Creative BC, which launched more than 10 years ago and provides support and information on how productions can be more environmentally responsible.

Ultimately, the goal of the forum, said Harris, is to continue the global conversation around green initiatives so the entire industry can work to improve.

“Maybe there is a Reel Green ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal of approval that the industry and everybody will come up with together. You want to strive to get that,” added Gill.