Shoot in the Alps
Thu, 14 Apr 2022 09:54:00 GMT
April is sustainability month and the word rears its head ever more frequently as Earth Day approaches. The sustainability conversation is an ongoing one in the industry, as efforts are being made by all to turn everyday practices greener, to try and do more. Yet covid has inevitably slowed progress down - in the world, let alone ad land - reversing significant strides made on single use plastic, for example.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom according to Paolo Sassi, founder and producer at Shoot in the Alps. “In the grand scheme of things, production isn’t the biggest culprit of environmental issues, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try our best to reduce our impact.”
Thinking about the shoots today, Paolo singles out the challenge of separating waste onsite. “People are getting better at disposing of different materials in dedicated spots, but it’s not perfect.” Single use plastic - namely the ubiquitous water bottles - is another persistent issue that needs to be tackled thoughtfully. “We still see either people using plastic bottles too often or some brands trying to incentivise everyone to use refillable ones by gifting them a bottle when they arrive on the shoot.”
While gifting reusable bottles sounds like a good idea in practice, Paolo points out that most of the team members by now have “countless bottles from different productions” that are supposed to be re-used in order to be the sustainable option. Paolo believes that more awareness and education is still required to make people understand how a few small changes can really make a difference - something Shoot in the Alps focuses on throughout their productions.
For Paolo and the wider Shoot in the Alps team, sustainability is a natural part of their business operations, borne out of a sense of responsibility and a deep respect towards the Alpine environment. The company is a long-standing member of 1% for the Planet, which funds environmental organisations through a pledge that sees businesses commit 1% of their sales (profitable or not) back to the environment. “We like to split our donations between bigger and smaller organisations approved by 1% so we know that our money is making a difference to green causes,” explains Paolo.
“Really, to make a difference, people need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable, or at least to give up some excessive pampering done on production” says Paolo, recalling requests to keep only two people in an eight-passenger vehicle when travelling to and from a location - and that’s not due to covid. “When we’re talking about transporting 20 people, it quickly adds up to both pollution and budget.” Covid has set sustainability efforts back somewhat as enforcing social distancing and masking, while absolutely necessary, did break some of the greener habits that the industry spent years building and will now take some time to restore.
Paolo is also wary of the preconceptions proliferating in the industry which can, at times, lead to the less green option getting chosen. A recent example is a mountain shoot that needed a lot of equipment transported to the location. Two options were available: a snow plough and a helicopter. The helicopter was vetoed – this mode of transportation is often seen as a symbol of pollution. However, Paolo points out, “the helicopter option would use less fuel overall since the journey would be shorter whereas the snow plough would take longer and use more fuel to get the equipment up the mountain and back.” Paolo thinks that clients are still misinformed on what green options, sometimes applying faulty thinking to situations that require a more balanced approach. Something the right production partners with knowledge and experience of the area and its challenges can advise on.
On the other hand, he’s seeing some teams choose greener modes of travel to and from productions, like by train where the option is available; it allows teams to work while in transit too - a win/win for the environment and productivity. “France, Switzerland, and parts of Italy are all very well connected by train - where good infrastructure is available, people are more likely to opt for it.”
Today’s savvy consumer expects brand experience to function fluidly across all touchpoints; that now includes during production too, thanks to smartphones. “Public perception should matter to brands. Some productions happen in pretty remote spots, but others are in full view of ski resorts, tourists, locals - before you can remind people not to take a picture, they’ve already uploaded the shot to social media,” says Paolo. Some brands have even made it into local paper for not conducting themselves as respectfully as they should while on location. How many brands can withstand this kind of infamy? Or want to?
Paolo sees that most crew on set are conscious of the impact they’re having on the shoot’s location and, with a little education, it’s easy to ensure that the rest, who are used to “discarding waste onto the studio floor”, soon follow suit.
Sustainability is one of the most complex issues to tackle for the industry and the world at large; with a combination of education and a focus on both individual and collective action, making progress - even if it’s not perfect - is certainly possible.