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What Kind of Green is Hollywood Really Interested in?

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Photo by Hot Meteor via Flickr

In recent weeks, Los Angeles seems to be the “it” city when it comes to becoming eco-friendly. First, Gov. Schwarzenegger held the Global Climate Summit in Beverly Hills. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Villarigosa announced plans for Solar LA in his continued effort under GREEN LA. And then, earlier this week, iHollywood Forum hosted “Hollywood Goes Green”, inviting industry and advertising personnel to attend and learn what has been done, and can continue to be done, in the effort to go green.

For anyone who has ever been to a film set knows the amount of environmental waste created from a simple production. There are water bottles, generators, air conditioned trailers, wasted food, equipment trucks and the list can go on and on. The opportunity to reduce the amount of emissions released is vast. And, this seemed like an opportunity to relate success stories, and for others to learn and apply back in the daily grind.

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Success stories were shared and need to be revered. For example, there was a presentation by Joshua Mark from FOX, who seems to be an industry leader in greening a multitude of their events like the Emmy’s, the Super Bowl and American Idol, resulting in a 1.6M lb reduction in CO2. The TV series, “24” is the very first carbon neutral production and the entire lot has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2010.

Larry Wilk, from Disney Home Entertainment, representing the Digital Entertainment Group, which is a multi-studio effort to green the home entertainment divisions. Currently, the home entertainment industry creates enough environmental waste to equal the waste created by 75,000 homes per year. They have made significant strides in reducing their output by reducing case weight, plastic used in DVD's and BluRay discs, and switching to soy based inks. It should be noted that the greening initiative was started because Wal-Mart mandated it as a part of their sustainable goals.

There were other panel discussions about studio programs like Green is Universal, using technology to reduce the carbon footprint, financing environmentally friendly films, and how to effectively get the message out to the audiences. While these topics are inline and productive to the green movement, there were equally seemingly conflicting topics and speakers, as well.

One choice for a speaker, and a top sponsor of the event, was Environment and Energy Communications Manager for General Motors, Dave Barthmuss. And while he talked about the "elephant in the room" being the auto bailout, many felt the true discomfort was caused by GM's involvement in killing the electric car many years back and the surge in producing gas guzzling SUV's.

Another thing that felt off about the conference was panel after panel discussing the "green consumer"; who they are, what brands they buy, and how to get them on your side as a loyal customer. A message was sent that it was more important to market yourself as "green" by ensuring product placement and branding, as opposed to a fundamental change in reducing Hollywood's footprint.

Hollywood has the opportunity to be a leader in shifting perception of the green movement from political to moral. They have the opportunity to "be the change" that they expect from middle America and our politicians. There have been huge strides made by this industry and they should not be taken lightly. This conference is an example of a positive move forward. iHollywood Forum should be commended for tackling this topic and being successful. However, as with many things, this is a complicated topic that left room for improvement.

This post is by Shelley Boyle of The Golden Spiral