Film producer Miranda Bailey was hearing a lot about this whole "green" movement taking place in Hollywood. So on the production of her latest film, The River Why, she decided to test the waters and see what it actually takes to make a set with countless bottles of water, pollution and expansive garbage envionmentally-friendly. Her document of these events, Greenlit, will be having its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival and she was happy to answer a few questions about what she was out to accomplish.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been very vocal about his concerns for the environmental effort. Yet you point out that two of his films, The Beach and Titanic, did great damage during production to the natural environments they filmed in. Was this your way of exposing a certain hypocrisy over the green movement in Hollywood or as part of the wake-up call that may have led DiCaprio to be more aggressive in this cause.
MIRANDA: I pointed out the two films THE BEACH and TITANIC starring Leonardo DiCaprio because I found it disturbing and ironic. I think it is hard for any one person in this business to be pro-environment and not contribute to excessive waste just based on how our industry works. These two films are extreme examples. But all films could do so much more to be conscious of what we do to our locations and what kind of waste we leave behind. I'm not sure what Mr. DiCaprio's reasons for being a green advocate are as I have never met him. But I think it is great that he does speak out and is pro-environment and I admire his recent efforts.
I would personally love if someone did a documentary getting into the behind-the-scenes efforts or non-efforts of a film like 2012. Whom would you target if you had unlimited resources whether it be a film in the can or a just on a particular aspect of set excess?
MIRANDA: I think for certain a movie like 2012 is much more wasteful than an indie film like THE RIVER WHY simply in the fact that there are just way more people working on it. The more people, the more crap you have to throw away. But all these movies are the same in terms of making them greener. First look at the waste. All trash cans should have recycling cans next to them and film sets NEED to recycle. We should encourage our cast and crew to not use disposable water bottles but to fill up their non-disposable ones. Craft Services could/should use non-disposable plates and utensils if possible, if not possible, there are many biodegradable non-plastic items that could be used. It would be amazing if catering could use more local and organic food products, but I'm not sure how realistic that is considering the costs and location of any particular shoot. As far as whom would I target? I'm not quite sure how to answer that. I think all films have the same problems which, hopefully, I pointed out in GREENLIT.
No one likes to be lectured, even if it is by those whose policies or movements they are in agreement with. How do you convince those who associate this is some kind of liberal hippie issue spearheaded by Al Gore to listen to the advantages of taking whatever little steps they can?
MIRANDA: Look, I, in no way, set out to make an environmental film. Frankly, I saw no reason to "green" our film THE RIVER WHY. I thought the notion was bizarre and absurd. I set out to document it. And in that process learned a hell of a lot about what I do not want to do. Making this movie changed me. If it changes a viewer, that is awesome. If not, well I just hope they laugh their ass off.
Do you hope with only an abbreviated running time of 50 minutes to reach an audience who might otherwise be uninterested in spending time learning how they can help?
MIRANDA: If this film was any longer it could get boring and if it was any shorter I would have left out important information. The film's length is perfect for what I'm trying to convey. Hopefully film students will be able to watch it as part of their curriculum and not fall asleep in class.
It seems as if you may have shied away from the introductory moments of establishing the liberal and conservative viewpoints. We see your husband get up and leave just moments into watching An Inconvenient Truth, while you sit by seemingly bored yourself. Were there some tense moments between you and your friends and family over this project?
MIRANDA: Yes. My husband and I don't share the same views on many political things and this was one of them. That said, if John McCain made An Inconvenient Truth, I'm sure he would be glued to the television and I would have stormed off. In an initial cut of the film I did have more "political" remarks and such, but I think it distracted from what the film was supposed to be and became too much of a comment. I didn't' want to do that. I wanted just to show what I was going through and what worked and what didn't in the "greening" process.
Why do you think that one side is so willing to accept the words of scientists and the other is so easily dismissive of the facts that have been presented for global warming?
MIRANDA: Man I wish I had the answer to that question. It is a never ending battle. But my hunch is that corruption has invaded anyone from feeling that the truth will ever be told on either side...but that is a whole other documentary.
You show what a pain it can be to adapt to the green way of conducting business from sifting through dumpsters and just keeping a consistency amongst those involved. With costs that appear to be out of whack as solutions are not exactly cost effective, does the true solution result in finding a profit margin to get the industry involved beyond just the work of a few dedicated people behind the scenes?
MIRANDA: Yes. Everything is run by the dollar. If we demand recycling on set as performers and producers I think that will work in that sector. If talent and crew make it a point to change ... things will change. It just takes time and dedication and an immense amount of effort. But the costs of recycled paper and earth-friendly products are still high. If there was a tax incentive to use these products I can guarantee that all productions would. We love tax incentives. LOL.