The Nova TV group starts applying green filming principles and plans to introduce them into all countries where the CME group operates, describes Hana de Goeij.

The CME media group (the owner of TV Nova) has become the first company from Central and Eastern Europe that joined the albert platform, which focuses on sustainability principles for film and TV. CME has joined companies such as Fremantle, ITV and Sky. TV Nova started introducing principles of the platform into its daily activities. It contributed to the publishing of the first Green Filming Manual in the Czech Republic and is working on integrating sustainable behaviour into filming and storytelling. “The goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and come as close as possible to carbon neutrality,” said Hana de Goeij, Head of Sustainable Filming and Content of TV Nova.

How do you reflect the so called green filming principles in your daily activities?

In principle, we apply two approaches. The first is our effort to reduce the carbon footprint in making programmes. The second principle is that we want our content to inspire our viewers - wherever it is possible and appropriate - to be environment-friendly.

Do you mean writing scripts that urge people to behave eco-friendly?

I will give you an illustrative example. If there is a scene in a script where actors should drink water, they should not drink it from plastic bottles but from glasses. One episode of MasterChef was dedicated to the zero waste trend, showing that all can be used when cooking. This is followed by a new online show Do posledního sousta where former participants of MasterChef were given a task to make a recipe for food made of leftovers.

The first show where Nova applied the green filming principles is the miniseries Případ Roubal that will premiere on Voyo in November. How exactly did you proceed?

For the filming of Případ Roubal we trained a ‘green runner’, a person participating in filmmaking. The person is responsible for meeting the principles of sustainability and records information that we want to monitor, e.g. consumption of material or energy. We will include this information in a carbon calculator to know the carbon footprint of any show. The calculator also calculates the amount of investment in an offset scheme (Editor’s Note: a procedure to offset emissions) if we want to become carbon neutral. Albert offers such schemes.

How much time do you need before you start filming to apply elements of emission reduction?

The sooner we start with it when preparing the filming the better. However, it depends on preparations of each project and then on the production process itself. Another factor is whether we are making our original show or an adaptation. If I am to make a gross estimate, at least two months before the shooting starts it should be addressed.

Can the requirement for a certain behaviour be a limit for production companies with which Nova cooperates? Some might not be willing to accept it.

I do not think so. I do not know of any instance and our recent experience is mostly positive. Some production companies have already started applying green filming principles without us discussing it as they believe that this is the right thing to do. Of course, at the beginning increased efforts are required from production, for example in searching for new suppliers, monitoring more indicators or in general as a result of the need to introduce changes on set. I think that, as always, the most difficult part is changing legacy thinking and operation routines.

Is the idea of optimal principles to be followed in filming based on some experience from abroad?

Yes, it is. We are using much of that experience. Together with Audiovision Producers’ Association, we published the Green Filming Manual describing in detail specific examples of making the shooting more environment-friendly. For example, this includes office processes for which we recommend printing just the final versions of scripts, sending daily instructions via email only, printing on recycled paper, etc. The above mentioned albert platform provides such recommendations and we are planning series of training sessions for producers.

What causes the largest carbon footprint in filming?

Transport, which may be reduced by car-sharing, using public transport or bikes or vehicles with alternative drives. What makes a difference is the distance of filming locations and the option to move them to a more accessible place. But this is what many producers do automatically as it reduces time and fuel requirements, which saves money. Costumes, props and energy are what impacts the carbon footprint much. In this respect, you can consider what types of bulbs are used, what types of batteries or if you are using power from the network or a power generator. 

And do you know the carbon footprint in the current filmmaking without applying the green filming principles?

We can build on the study published by albert annually. It indicates that on average, an hour of TV production made a carbon footprint of 4.4 tonnes of CO₂ in 2020. We can assume that this figure already reflects sustainable measures to some extent as albert uses production data that was input in its calculator.

What will be the next steps? You have just started applying the principles, so how many shows will be affected this and the next year?

I wish to implement them immediately and everywhere, which is not possible as it will take some time to do it. After the miniseries Případ Roubal, we want to apply them in the filming of two other shows this year. I would like to monitor the carbon footprint for any production starting from the next year and to train people who will be in charge of it. We want to have a green runner in each filming.

How many people can focus on this in Nova?

Green runners are not likely to operate as an internal team in Nova. They will be people hired by individual productions.

How much does CME have to invest to enforce the concept?

We are calculating it because we want to have an idea of extra costs incurred by sustainable filming in addition to the existing amount. But we expect that producers applying green filming rules will become a standard and the costs will be part of regular production budgets. For example, producers will order catering using compostable dishes and will no longer order a firm that would not be able to provide this service. Be it as it may, green filming is a trend resonating across our industry. I am happy that Nova and CME are one of the pioneers seeking to promote it.