A first for the film industry in South Africa

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Green Shoot Films launches a first for the film industry in South Africa.

A new concept in film production has sprouted in South Africa with the launch of a unique, eco-friendly film production company that strives to make a difference through adopting 'green' practices and producing 'movies that matter'.

Producer, Elle Matthews and film director Peter Matthews had just completed their first feature film, which deals with undiagnosed schizophrenia, and knew that going forward they would only be happy producing commercials, documentaries and feature films that had substance. And productions that were environmentally conscious.

One of the biggest changes to their business practice has been the kind of productions they choose to make. Green Shoot Films is a unique film production company that offers a full local and international production service, in an enviromentally friendly way. But they also believe they need to ‘fit’ with clients who make a difference through what they do and what they give back to the world. That doesn’t mean they're just about PSA’s. Any company that looks to protect the environment as part of its corporate social responsibility is their kind of client.

At the heart of the new business plan for Green Shoot Films were some basic principles for ‘greening’ productions, including conserving fuel and energy, avoiding toxins and pollution, saving water and preventing landfill waste. The most important change was bringing about a massive shift in mindset, so they started with the production office. Email and electronic scheduling replaced printing, and Skype or phone calls substituted driving and flying to meetings wherever possible. Energy efficient lighting replaced conventional globes, and recycling became key to all they do. After announcing the company change to Green Shoot Films, they sent out indigenous saplings to clients and crew, with a statement about what the company stood for - and asked the recipient to plant the tree. They also advised crewing agents that any crew hired needed to be committed to their 'green' philosophy. The ‘green’ principles are set out in the crew terms & conditions whenever they contract crew for a shoot.

Before every shoot they consult with the gear hire companies to establish how they can work to ensure the most ‘eco-friendly’ equipment during filming. They brief their film catering companies to make sure they source organic, locally produced products wherever possible, and have replaced plastic bottled water with a tap water dispenser and recyclable paper cups, on shoots. Any fresh food left after a shoot goes to a local church or charity.

The Art Department are becoming more conscious of ‘reusing and recycling’ throughout the construction, rigging and wrap processes - they rent sets, props and plants instead of buying, choose wood from trees grown in sustainable forests when building, and use eco-friendly paints, adhesives and cleaners during set construction. The appointment of a green steward helps cast and crew implement sustainability practices by sourcing ‘eco-friendly’ vendors and products, disseminating information and resources to crew and cast, and working with department heads to ‘green’ their departments.

The journey from traditional film making to eco-friendly film production hasn’t always been clear-cut, or simple – and it probably won't be until the film industry as a whole adopts more ‘green’ practices. But at the end of the day Elle and Peter Matthews know what they're striving for: to make films that highlight important issues, give a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard, and generally try and bring about change for the better. They love working on projects about things that really matter, and with clients who have the welfare of people and the environment at the heart of their corporate culture. They care about the art in film, endangered wildlife and this planet called 'home'. It’s just their small contribution to making a difference and impacting the world in a positive way.