Zena Harris and SPF – A Better Future for Film

Last week, I attended the Sustainable Production Forum, an event that was strictly all about energy efficient matters and making sure film sets are keeping the environment in check. The meals were strictly healthy consisting of vegan and gluten free foods, there was quite a collection of people around there, and there was even a tent outside where people could go out to test drive the new energy efficient Toyotas. Zena Harris then kicked things off with an opening speech listing all the sponsors who helped, the strict guidelines of the forum, and how things were going to go. I myself got a chance to speak to Ms. Harris and ask her a few quick questions regarding the SPF and how the potential outcome is looking.

HNMAG: What gave you the initiative to create this forum?

Zena Harris: Well, I was working on motion picture sustainability and realized there was not a conference or an event that brought the industry together to exchange knowledge and learn from each other.  Four years ago I decided to create that. 


HNMAG: What kind of factors did you keep in mind when creating and coordinating these practices?

Zena Harris: So, we want the forum to walk the walk as well. It’s about sustainability in the motion picture as well at the forum. So, we look at the materials we have there at the forum. We don’t print anything ourselves if we can avoid it, we do not want plastic at our event, we’re asking our vendors and anyone we’re adhering to do that as well. Most of our stuff is digital so our program and that’s first thing. Everything we can from renting the furniture, so it can be reused, any set furniture that we use. Using all reusable materials in all capacities if possible and donating food, making sure consumed at the forum is low carb and vegan as much as possible. We do try to think through every element and make the event as suitable as we possibly can. 


HNMAG: What do you feel people will learn from this forum? Do you believe they will be more knowledgable and practice new methods?

Zena Harris: Yeah, absolutely, hopefully the feel of the event will be inspiring, so the sustainability that takes place at the event will be inspiring. Then the content about sustainability and what’s being done on set, at studios, in the corporate world, all related to motion picture, it will hopefully be inspiring and through our skill based workshop we will be having, we want people to take away skills that we can put into practice, when they go on production the next day. That’s everything from how to use certain apps to help go digital, to how to think through sustainability on an Indie film, and how to use a carbon calculator. There are many other workshops, but these are the kind of skills that we want folks to learn and the content that we hopefully want to inspire this action when they leave. 


HNMAG: Do you feel film sets will improve in the future because of this?

Zena Harris: I think so. We’ve seen a lot of ripple effects for 3 years, where people are coming together and sharing their knowledge. Y’know, seeing what’s happening on other film sets and parts of the world, and taking it back and putting it into practice. So we do think this is an extremely valuable event for elevating sustainability in motion picture.


Among the many interesting happenings at SPF, there were panels, workshops, vendor pitches, and even something new called an Idea Blast. The Panels discussed serious matters such as Climate Change and how it should be discussed more, especially how it’s used in movies, news, and how to engage the youth into getting more concerned about the problems. Workshops also discussed climate change as well as new plans for energy efficiency such as clean energy vehicles becoming more frequent to prevent pollution and emissions. Idea Blasts were an interesting new idea where environmentalists discussed new ideas on changing the contents that made merchandise using less plastic, and the best practices in discussing climate issues. Even more interesting were the Vendor pitches which provided interesting new ideas for food, disposables, film equipment, and even environmental cleanup. The SPF was a great experience and I have much hope for Zena Harris and her team to make film sets more sustainable thus meaning a better Earth for all of us. Let’s just hope other industries take note of the issues and do their part too.

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