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Columbia film students receive Green Seal Award
The chaos of producing a movie often leaves little time for film & video majors to think about their impact on the environment. But for two Columbia filmmakers, the ecosystem inspired the production of their award-winning movie.
“Uncle Evan,” a six-minute film about family dysfunction, was produced by graduate film & video student Kazuko Golden and directed by graduate film student Joshua Garvin, who were the first students to receive Columbia’s Green Seal Award March 18, according to John Wawrzaszek, the sustainability manager of the
Campus Environment office.
“I’ve done a number of productions within the [graduate film & video studies program], but I noticed that I was really disturbed by the amount of waste produced on set,” Golden said. “I decided in my next production that I was going to try and be as green as possible.”
The Green Seal program is a waste reduction and education initiative sponsored by Columbia’s recycling program, Wawrzaszek said. The award is not a monetary prize but rather a seal that can be placed in the final credits to promote Columbia’s sustainability practices and show audiences that the film was produced responsibly.
He said he hopes other students consider implementing recycling and other environmentally friendly production techniques outlined in Columbia’s recycling program guidelines in their projects.
The steps Golden and Garvin took involved purchasing steel water bottles and metal cutlery for the cast and crew, using recycling bins on set, ordering the proper amount of food and purchasing fair trade coffee made in the U.S., she said. Any money the students save by recycling and using fewer materials can be invested in the project, Wawrzaszek said. Golden said she did not know the exact amount saved by implementing the techniques but added she would have taken the same precautions regardless of whether they saved money because of the environmental benefits.
“It all comes down to how much advance preparation you put in,” Golden said. “Preparation is everything. If you wait until the last minute, a lot of these things are not possible to do. If you’re conscious going into a production, then you can plan for organizing carpooling, purchasing [supplies] and waste decisions.”
Golden said she was inspired to make the film more environmentally friendly after attending a screening of “Future Weather,” a coming-of-age film directed by Jenny Deller about an abandoned tween worried about global warming. When Golden learned the film was produced in an eco-friendly fashion, she decided to do the same
while producing “Uncle Evan.”
“[Golden] is very passionate about [the project], and it was really great to see someone who is like, ‘Hey this isn’t something that has to do with the curriculum,’”
Wenhwa Ts’ao, director of the graduate studies program and associate professor in the Film & Video Department, worked closely with Golden and recommended Golden’s future project, “The Song,” for the Weisman award, an honor that supports the completion of arts and communications projects. Ts’ao said she commends Golden for being environmentally conscious while producing
“Uncle Evan” because filmmakers do not always consider
“Usually [filmmakers] are goal-driven about getting our shots, getting our stuff done and getting that one goal,” Ts’ao said. “It’s nice to see that she is conscientious enough to approach her production understanding that she could be the filmmaker she wants to be.”