Film student gets green
Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011
Updated: Sunday, January 16, 2011 17:01
When a UCF master's in film student Ryan Pomeranz set out to make his movie set environmentally friendly, he had no idea it would result in national recognition.
Pomeranz' film, Theodore is Dying, was recognized as an Environmental Media Association Green Seal Production at the 20th Annual Environmental Media Award Ceremony in Los Angeles last October. His film was the only independent of those mentioned at the ceremony and the first-ever "ultra-low budget" film to receive the distinction.
"The idea was to see what was doable," said Pomeranz, of making his film set environmentally friendly. "Even though the film wasn't completely green, we looked at what we had in front of us and we did what we could do."
The $35,000 feature film, which was funded completely by business partnerships and fundraising, was made as part of writer/director Pomeranz's master's program, a "multi-generational dark comedy" that focuses on four lost souls.
As environmental impact coordinator and production designer for the film, Becca Kenyon was the driving force behind ‘greening' the project, and she played a significant role in gaining the Green Seal certification.
Kenyon, who graduated from UCF in December with a bachelor's in world cinema, said she was always an environmentally conscious person when she was growing up.
"My mother would always tell me when I was young to not be a litter bug," Kenyon said.
As part of the Theodore is Dying crew, Kenyon was determined to earn the film a Green Seal certification, a recognition that shows that you have reached a criteria set by the EMA for excellence in green, eco-friendly practices. The criteria covers topics such as transportation, catering and energy efficiency.
"It's something that I had a strong passion for," Kenyon said. "Ryan wanted a green film. The fact that he believed in my abilities gave me the power to do something that shocked me."
Even though the team could not afford solar-powered equipment or environmentally friendly film, it was a large combination of small initiatives that led them to the prestigious recognition, as well as companies such as Harmonic Distortion Productions donating camera and sound equipment.
"It was something that we could try to do that no one had done before," Pomeranz said. "That's what interested us."
Shot over a period of 22 days in Scranton, Pa., the film set was turned into a huge recycling initiative with the crew constantly communicating with the local recycler and placing recycle bins at strategic points throughout every location on the set.
Moving Picture Party, which is comprised mostly of UCF graduates that put the film together, went to several other lengths to make the filming process as green as possible. Some of these measures included scheduled carpooling, picking film locations that were within close proximity of each other, using compact fluorescent lights and distributing reusable stainless steel water bottles to the staff.
"Many film projects that are on an even lower budget than we are go through about 10 cases of water in a single day of shooting," said Kenyon's sister, Allie Kenyon, a UCF graduate and the film's producer. "We went through one case during the entire shooting process."
Near the end of the shooting process, an auditor from the EMA came to the set and observed all of the green aspects in the area, inspecting light bulbs, checking recycle bins and asking to see receipts that prove the purchase of public transportation and donating to thrift stores. About three weeks later, they were notified that they had been Green Seal certified.
"It's a huge honor and incredibly humbling," Pomeranz said. "It's almost surreal that it came together after we had worked so hard."
Although the team could not be at the award ceremony because of travel costs, the EMA acknowledged the members for tasks such as using starch-based dishware from Earthshell and putting together a paperless, digital production office.
Having risen to such a high standard with so little resources, Moving Picture Party hopes that they can be an example to the next generation of filmmakers, as well as filmmakers who want to do what they can to green their filming process.
"We want to be an example to other projects that no matter what the size is of the production, it is possible to become green," Allie said. "We see ourselves as the champion of the little guy, no project of our size had ever tried to achieve the Green Seal."
Theodore is Dying is currently in post-production and the team is aiming for an April or May completion date. They are also currently holding a fundraiser so they can finish the editing process.
"I definitely see this as the future of filming," Kenyon said. "I will continue on a personal mission to make greener films and to teach people how they can film their own green movies."
For more information on Theodore is Dying, visit www.movingpictureparty.com. To make a donation to the completion process of the film, go to www.IndieGoGo.com.