Hollywood spotlights environment, challenges remain

Thu Nov 6, 2008 3:14pm EST
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood is turning the silver screen "green," but cutting waste, energy and costs in an industry known for big budgets and over-the-top productions is not easy, even in the trend setting movie business.

Hollywood has long used its star power to help the environment. A-list stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford are well-known environmentalists and Al Gore's 2006 Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth," about global warming, is widely credited for making the issue more mainstream.

Now the industry is trying to reduce the environmental harm caused by its big, but largely temporary, film and TV shoots.

"While celebrities have long been environmental activists, studios and production companies have been cautious about adopting the green philosophy as it applies to their business operations," says Zahava Stroud, of iHollywood Forum, which will host a "Hollywood Goes Green" conference next month.

Implementing sustainable solutions should also help global entertainment companies improve profitability during the current economic downturn, analysts said.

To "green up" their businesses, many studios now have departments dedicated to reducing their carbon footprints and some have even offered staff incentives to buy hybrid cars.

But the biggest challenge is cutting down on the excesses of large-scale productions.

"While there's been a lot of greening of studio lots, what still needs to be focused on is the actual production process, in terms of fuel consumption, energy efficiency, waste generation and food sourcing," said Lauren Selman, chief executive of Reel Green Media, a consultant that helps movie sets incorporate environmental practices.   Continued...

<p>Former Vice President Al Gore waves to the media at the Japanese premiere of his documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" in Tokyo January 15, 2007. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota</p>