A consultant for greener films

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As a green consultant, Stefan Regg ensures that film productions are implemented as sustainably as possible. This requires the cooperation of everyone involved - from the scriptwriter to the driver.

Is the material transported to the filming location by cargo bike or electric car? Is the helicopter flight really necessary, or can the crew get from A to B on foot in the mountainous landscape? And is a power source from renewable energy available for the lighting and camera technology? In his day-to-day work as a green consultant, Stefan Regg deals with all the questions that are crucial for sustainable film production.

There are many small and large levers that play a role in this. "Everyone is needed for effective implementation - the Green Consultant is not a policeman on the set," explains Stefan Regg. Rather, the interaction of all those involved is required. This starts with green storytelling, where attention is paid to seasonal aspects or environmentally friendly film props and scenery when creating the story, for example. "For example, we show condensed construction, a building with a solar system or an electric car instead of a combustion engine." The fact that the crew is also catered for with vegetarian dishes is also part of this.

Sound and practical training

Stefan Regg is head of film production at Prodigious Zurich, which is part of the Publicis Groupe Switzerland agency network. He has sharpened his ecological awareness in recent years, because as a family man in particular, his view of many issues has changed, says the 41-year-old: "We need to rethink how we deal with our planet’s resources." When he took over and renovated his parents’ house in Rapperswil SG in 2021, he focused intensively on sustainable technologies and products, such as smart homes and solar systems.

Environmental issues are also becoming more and more of a professional focus. Especially as neighboring countries such as Germany are much further ahead in sustainable filmmaking: Since 2022, for example, uniform minimum standards for ecologically sustainable television and film productions have been in force, which were adopted jointly with the Minister of State for Culture. "All of this finally prompted me to look for appropriate further training." Stefan Regg found an online advertisement from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) for the CAS Green Consultant - Sustainability for all film and media productions. This is the first certified further education course in Switzerland that sheds light on the topic of sustainability for the film industry. Graduates will be able to advise and support productions accordingly.

Anyone who has completed a degree or further education at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts can join the HSLU Alumni network. HSLU Alumni members have access to an exclusive circle of graduates, lecturers, active students and partner organizations of the HSLU, with whom they can exchange ideas online and at various events. They also benefit from useful services and benefits.

Basic membership is free of charge.

Register now at hslu.ch/alumni !

The course is primarily aimed at professionals who produce documentaries and feature films. But what applies to these is also true for advertising productions. "The lecturers all work in the film industry and showed us very practical tips and concepts, from production to technology," says Stefan Regg. He completed the CAS in February 2024.

Clients ask for sustainability

Since this spring, the Zurich Film Foundation has required that Swiss film and series productions be accompanied by a certified green consultant. This is one of the reasons why the HSLU has launched a corresponding training course. Stefan Regg and the film production company Prodigious are not affected by these guidelines for commercial film productions, but it makes sense in this area too: "In the end, every sustainably produced day of shooting counts - regardless of whether it’s a documentary, a commercial or a feature film."

Marketing managers are also reacting sensitively to the topic; sustainability measures are now increasingly part of briefings or are required in concepts. Thanks to further training, Stefan Regg feels confident in his ability to provide well-founded expert opinions both internally and externally. "I can now provide more comprehensive and precise advice." In general, he has found that there is an awareness of sustainability. "But sustainable implementation must also be reflected and supported in the project budget and timing." Electricity from renewable energies, environmentally friendly transportation, the latest generation of energy-saving technology, sustainable scenarios and storylines - all of this costs time and therefore money. "My job is to raise customer awareness and offer them more sustainable alternatives - to show them savings but also additional costs." The film industry will not be able to avoid the issue. If you take a closer look at the figures, it becomes clear why: "The production of a single German film causes CO2 emissions of 140 tons," says Stefan Regg. By comparison, according to the Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland emits a good 41 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, or around 5 tons per capita. "I wasn’t aware of this ratio - and it has once again prompted me to take action."

About the person

Stefan Regg (*1982) grew up in Rapperswil SG and started his career as a carpenter. He took drum lessons at a young age, set up his own recording studio and produced music videos. This is how he got into moving images and quickly caught fire for the industry. After studying at the New York Film Academy and NBCUniversal Studios in Los Angeles, Stefan Regg set up several film departments in companies and worked as a freelance filmmaker in the years that followed. Today, the family man works as Head of Video Production and Green Consultant at the production powerhouse Prodigous in Zurich.

Text: Christine Zwygart
Image: Prodigious Zurich, Matteo Attanasio
Published: February 29, 2024