Green Productions

Inside thesandbox, a solar-powered, boutique film company based in Venice, Calif.

The Green Production Guide serves three essential needs. First, it features the first set of green best-practices written by leading producers actively greening productions. Second, the guide suggests customized solutions for features, sports productions, events and TV shows, based on a downloadable "carbon calculator." Third, the guide site offers an industrywide resource network of vendors providing green-friendly products and services throughout the world.

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) also offers a more public online information resource called, PGA Green (www.pgagreen.org), which serves to get information out to the general public and the media as to the environmental objectives of the PGA specifically and the film industry in general. "We are grateful for the tremendous studio support behind this vital initiative," says PGA President Marshall Herskovitz. "The Guide has the ability to affect tangible change and advance sustainable solutions."

Posting Green

So much for proving how the production department can save by going green, but what about postproduction? Make room for Todd Sali, owner of thesandbox, a Venice, Calif, postproduction house turned production company. "While post has been the mainstay over the past 15 years," relates Sali, "we are getting more and more into production. All kinds of projects and clients come in here, including Porsche, Intel, Toyota, Nissan, Infiniti, NOVA, ONE, Plastic Pollution Coalition and The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles."

About eight years ago, Sali made two important decisions: to concentrate more on environmental documentaries and to renovate his facility with an eye to conserving energy. The decisions have helped him weather the recent recession by finding a topic niche that didn’t suffer from severe cutbacks and by also saving money by reducing his carbon footprint. During renovation, Sali considered all levels of green modification—from purchasing recycled wood from a 1790 barn for his floors (among many other reused materials), to out-fitting the roof with 33 2×4-foot solar panels and running the company vehicle on biodiesel. "I evaluated the costs, got advice from a solar-energy-efficiency expert, a solar installer, and found out about loan financing and governmental incentives," explains Sali. "I learned that I could power my entire facility for less money than I was currently paying in electric bills. None of my decisions were hard once I did the math."

Todd’s facility includes two HD edit and visual-effects bays, a 24 TB, G-Technology G-Speed FC XL, and 12-bay SAN media storage with fiber-channel connectivity. "It’s a ton of equipment," reports Sali. "During the day, the electric meter runs backward, which means I am supplying my community with clean solar power. That just feels good. But I like to work at night too, and that’s when the meter goes forward, obviously, so in the end, on an annual basis, we pay very little for power."

Sali adds that it took his local power company a long time to get used to having a customer who was generating electricity instead of consuming it. "Several times they thought we had a broken meter because it was running backward."

Aside from saving money and feeling good about going green, Sali also is pleased that many of his clients support his ecological endeavors and have followed him into the green revolution by adopting energy-saving and recycling efforts of their own. "We start with the low-hanging fruit, do what we can, and keep getting better at it while sharing information and encouraging solutions. The power of the consumer is everything."

George Avgerakis is cofounder of Avekta Productions, an e-media production company in New York City. A former Eagle Scout, he recently donated a portion of his suburban residential property near Manhattan as a permanent conservation easement and owns a carbon-negative, certified NY Tree Farm in the Catskill Mountains.

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