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Korina Gutsche: "I knocked on many doors"

Korina Gutsche: "I knocked on many doors"

What does the green film of the future look like? Where does the film industry stand, where are the problems? Korina Gutsche from BLUECHILDFILM lectures, consults and is committed to green film and television productions. We talked to her about the future of film and why a little green filming is not enough.

INTERVIEW   Boris Messing


CCB Magazine: Hello Korina. You have a degree in environmental engineering and consult on green film and television production. What exactly do you do there and with whom?

Korina Gutsche: That's right, I studied environmental technology at the end of the 80s. I grew up in the GDR. Initially, as a student, I was active in the environmental protection network Arche and co-founded 'The Green Party' in East Berlin in November '89 and sat on the round table. After the fall of the Wall, I was project manager for environmental impact assessments at Berliner Wasserbetriebe for seven years, then internal communications officer for another seven years. I also volunteered for marine and environmental protection. And since 2012, my focus has been on freelance consulting for the media industry. To this end, I give training seminars, develop sustainability concepts and prepare climate assessments.

CCB Magazine:How did you get involved in green production? Was there a particular trigger?

Korina Gutsche:For me, films are a powerful medium for drawing viewers' attention to global issues such as sustainability. That's why in 2010 I took further training and my Chamber of Industry and Commerce exam to become a film production manager. At that time, we also had the first wave on green film production. Specifically, there was a green film initiative at the Academy of Film and Television, and the booklet ''Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg goes green'' appeared at the Berlinale. In 2012, the "Grüne Drehpass'' from Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein came into the world. I moved to Potsdam at that time and developed the 2020 vision 'Babelsberg goes green'. With that, I went to the Medienboard - and talked to the Ministry of Economics, regional media network, UFA and the film studios. I knocked on a lot of doors and consistently for many years. I wanted to draw attention to the relevance and opportunity for climate protection through green productions and show options for action. Since 2015, I have been giving training seminars on this, for example at the Film University in Babelsberg. But it's only since last year that I've been working year-round as a green consultant for film productions, a job description that is only just becoming established.

Ecological concerns as a task of film funding have been in the Film Funding Act for years. However, they have never been consistently implemented. Only since Fridays for Future has sustainability been at the top of the industry's agenda

CCB Magazine:Since 2017, there has been an amendment in the Film Funding Act that stipulates ecological concerns in the allocation of film funding. On the other hand, a producer who receives film funding from three different federal states is obliged to shoot in all three. Isn't that contradictory?

Korina Gutsche:It is. And that's where we come to funding tourism. It is understandable that the money has to be spent where it is applied for, since trades and service providers from the region want to benefit from it. However, this involves logistical travel and higher CO2 emissions. The whole team has to travel from one state to another, sometimes just to shoot a few scenes. Solutions are needed for this: The funding guidelines need to be revised. Binding talks between the regional funding institutions and with the state governments are needed in the near future.

CCB Magazine:During the Berlinale 2020, a recyclable green carpet was rolled out for the first time.  Isn't that a bit too little?

Korina Gutsche:That's too little, but something is happening, even at film festivals. The Berlinale has always set green accents. It also showed green films in the international competition early on. You have to know: Ecological concerns as a task of film promotion, namely of feature films, have been in the Film Funding Act for years. However, they have not been consistently implemented in recent years. It's only since Fridays for Future that sustainability has been at the top of the industry's agenda. There are now also a number of industry initiatives in this regard. From January 1, 2022, every producer who receives subsidies will also be required to implement effective ecological measures. There are also already various regional guidelines for green shooting, and uniform standards have been in practical testing since 2020. They were developed by the "Green Shooting" working group. The pioneers here are the Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein film funding agency with its "Grüner Drehpass," which has been awarded two hundred times since 2012, and the Media and Film Company in Baden-Württemberg with its "100 Green Productions" initiative, for which I acted as an advisor last year on rbb Tatort and Polizeiruf productions, among others.

At the crime scene: Korina Gutsche. Photo: BLUECHILDFILM

CCB Magazine:The Media and Film Company in Baden-Württemberg (MFG), which launched the "100 Green Productions" initiative, is to be completed and documented by next spring. MFG also links the awarding of funding to compliance with green filming standards. 100 films, that sounds a lot - but isn't that a drop in the bucket?

Korina Gutsche:Yeah sure, but it's a start! According to a producer alliance study from 2018, there are around 900 production companies in Germany. Of these, two-thirds are in the TV sector. And according to a Formatt study from the same year, 313,000 TV production minutes were shot in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2018 alone, putting NRW at the top of the list of filming locations in Germany. Seen as a whole, 100 'green films' is far too few. Last year, the MOIN Filmförderanstalt Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein turned the voluntary 'Grüner Drehpass' into a 'Grüner Filmpass' with binding criteria that map the entire production process, including preproduction and postproduction. The "Grüner Filmpass" is thus a prerequisite for funding, and MFG is the first institution to tie regional funding to compliance with ecological and social standards. As mentioned, these have not yet been standardized nationwide. The CO2 calculators for climate accounting are also still being developed. But the more productions are involved - and now the major cinema productions in particular are being called upon to join in - the more successful the transformation process will be.

CCB Magazine:Catering, logistics, lighting, electricity - where are the biggest emission factors?

Korina Gutsche:The main source of emissions is mobility, it's travel, equipment transport and accommodation, electricity and resource consumption, waste and catering - in that order. But that can vary between a TV and cinema production. It depends on the filming region, number of locations, filming season, storyline, etc. The question of technology availability is a particular problem here: for example, if there are not enough climate-friendly cars to rent during the filming period, or the E- or CNG charging stations are not available in the filming region; if the few hybrid generators cannot be booked, or the construction power connection with green electricity is too expensive. This is where politics is needed. It must urgently finance practical solutions with economic development. Only in this way can the film industry achieve the ecological change in values.

The main source of emissions in film and TV productions is mobility, i.e. travel, equipment transport and accommodation, then comes electricity and resource consumption, waste and catering - in that order

CCB Magazine:But don't the problems lie elsewhere? Video streaming alone causes more than 300 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year. That's the equivalent of the entire country of Spain emitting CO2 in a year. Surely a little green shooting can't change that. Don't they dare tackle the big issues?

Korina Gutsche:Step by step, I would say. We're talking about the conversion of an entire industry here, which is a complex challenge for all players. The impact on global warming through the broadcasting of films must of course receive the same attention. And as long as all streaming services use green electricity, they can make a significant contribution to climate protection.

CCB Magazine:Sustainability encompasses much more than just green standards. Crew United, the network and alliance for filmmakers, issued a call for "fair film production" years ago, because working conditions are precarious and the threat of poverty in old age is inevitable for many. Is social sustainability being lost sight of in favor of new ecological criteria in the field of film?

Korina Gutsche:I hope not! Sustainable filming also means taking social aspects into account, that's for sure. In the cinema sector, at least MFG, MOIN Filmförderung, Hessenfilm and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg now require compliance with social standards. I'm also aware that public broadcasters and production companies like UFA or Constantin have fair working conditions in mind with their in-house sustainability initiatives. Constantin Film in particular has been a driving force from the very beginning. They have already won the fairfilmaward several times, as have some Bavariafilm productions.

Sustainable filming also means taking social aspects into account. In the cinema sector, at least MFG, MOIN Filmförderung, Hessenfilm and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg now require compliance with social standards

CCB Magazine:What exemplary green film productions already exist today?

Korina Gutsche:I would say that Sky, as a global player, is doing the most to establish green productions in Germany. Sky launched an Ocean Rescue initiative years ago in cooperation with the WWF to draw attention to plastic in the ocean and to ban plastic waste from its own productions. The broadcaster has also long had its own green production guidelines, is also producing a climate-friendly cooking show, and wants to become a completely climate-neutral company by 2030.

CCB Magazine:You are well networked, for example with the Motion Picture Association. Let's take a look at the USA, at Hollywood. Have they made any progress with green filming? And if so, what are they doing better?

Korina Gutsche:The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is the association of the six major U.S. film production companies, namely Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox, and since 2019 also Netflix. Together, they always publish what they have done in terms of green shooting in April for Earthday. At the MPA and the Producer's Guild of America, the topic has been in focus for more than ten years and, above all, is a matter for the boss. When a Hollywood production is shot in a way that conserves resources, it has an enormous climate-friendly impact. Among other things, some producers conduct tree-planting campaigns to offset CO2 emissions or give leftover food from catering and clothing to those in need. I would like to see the same kind of commitment from the German film industry. A joint statement on this has been in place since the Berlinale 2020, and now it's time for action.

CCB Magazine:Let's look into the future: What will the film landscape look like in 2030?

Korina Gutsche:We simply shoot and produce 'green' and there is no need to discuss it at all. All media companies, TV broadcasters, service partners of the film productions, the cinemas and film festivals are of course also climate-friendly, or even better, climate-neutral. Green consultants are then a matter of course in the team. We also have no other choice if we are to achieve the 2 degree climate protection target.

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