The Ultimate Guide to Green Film Festivals

Weather you have already made your environmental documentary or you’ve only just started planning your first eco-friendly short, there are many exhibition and distribution organisations you should know about. To make your life easier we have combined the ultimate guide to green film festivals.

The USA

As one might expect there is a lot going on in the United States, mostly on a local level. We have found three well established film festivals but surely there are more of them out there.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Sierra Nevada

It’s the largest film festival of its kind. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival ‘leaves you feeling INSPIRED and MOTIVATED to go out and make a difference in your community and the world’.

Submissions for the January 2018 festival open May 15 and run through September 24. You can submit through FilmFreeway. The festival encourages adventure films and student level films as well as the environmental documentaries that are the main focus of the festival.

Environmental Film Festival, Washington

‘Founded in 1993, DCEFF is the longest-running environmental film festival in the United States. It has grown into a major collaborative, cultural event, both during the festival season and all year-round’

The festival is run by a charity and you can support it with your donations. Submissions will open in June and can be made directly on the festival’s website.

Colorado Environmental Film Festival

‘CEFF will screen features, shorts, films by foreign and local filmmakers and films by young filmmakers and for youth’.

The festival invites submissions from filmmakers of all ability levels and background. You can submit a feature or a short and there is even a youth category for under 19’s. The submission must be made vis Withoutabox

 

United Kingdom

UK Green Film Festival

UK Green Film Festival brings the very best of environmentally themed films from around the world to one of the UK’s largest cinema networks.

The festival is run as a charity so you can donate to support it. It has film screenings available all over the country but the submission is not easy. The festival doesn’t currently have a submissions process and you will need to contact them directly is you want your film entered into UK GFF.

Wildscreen Festival

‘The world’s leading international festival celebrating and advancing storytelling about the natural world’.

This festival has an incredible list of sponsors, including BBC Wildlife, National Geographic and WWF, to name just a few. If you submit to this festival, and get accepted, you will become a part of community of photographers, filmmakers and environmentalists who work together to make a real difference. And you would be judged by the industry leaders in wild life storytelling. Unfortunately there is no clear submission path of the festival’s website.

Mexico

Eco Film Festival

Held annually over the last 7 years this festival promotes ‘audiovisual production and ecological culture with Solutions that balance human beings in interaction with their environment’.

The registration for this festival is free and you can upload your film online or send a DVD to the festivals offices. Each year there is a different theme to the festival. The 2017 edition is Sustainable Eating.

France

Deauville Green Awards

This prestigious french film competition includes three categories: Spot, Corporate films and Documentary. The festival has over 300 submissions from 35 countries each year. The submission is free through registration on festival website. You can submit works of 2min or less in the Spot category, or feature length films in Documentary category.

 

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5 Tips for filming in natural light

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse , 2010. Cinematographer: Javier Aguirresarobe

The use of artificial lighting is, in may ways, the quintessential part of cinematography. It’s through lighting that the mood and look of the film is created but it’s also where the majority of carbon footprint often comes from.  If you have to shoot without lighting setup there is no reason to panic. You might be surprised by the quality that can be achieved. There are many examples of films beautifully shot without the use of set lighting. Some where filmed this way out of necessity others due to artistic choice.  Most recent example is The Revenant. Incredible cinematic experience worthy of an oscar. Alejandro González Iñárritu consciously decided to film with natural light only. He designed the production in a way that best utilised the beauty of locations and time of day. Emmanuel Lubezki, one of the most talented cinematographers of his generation, used light diffusers, blockers and reflectors to capture the scenes of The Revenant and it’s not the first time Lubezki’s cinematography earned him an oscar without any help from artificial lighting. In 2007 he received the award for Children of Men.
Alfonso Cuarón wanted his world to be as realistic as possible hence no electrical lighting used on location. One could argue that it was through the lack of lighting that the mood of the film, dark and ominous, has been achieved. The dystopian future look, with desaturated tones, worked beautifully when combined with handheld camera movement. So it is definitely possible to achieve great results with natural light. It takes a lot of work and careful planning but it is possible.  Many avant-garde movements, like cinema verite or dogma 95, embraced the idea of natural shooting to purposely distance themselves from the artifice of Hollywood. European cinema might be a great example where limitations of the budgets where the reason for using smaller setups. Finally there is sustainable filming and low carbon practices. Through a conscientious decision to limit the lighting on set, using LED lights or choosing well lit locations, you can severely reduce your CO2 emissions.

Here are our 5 tips for shooting with natural light:

1 Invest in fast lenses, neutral density filters and polarising filters.

Shooting in natural light gets rather difficult when there’s either too much or too little of it. Make sure your equipment can handle low light and high light conditions. Use polarising filters to remove any glaire and unwanted reflections and ND filters when the light is too bright. When shooting in low light it’s best to keep your ISO within the manufacturers specified native ISO. It helps with noise levels. Some cameras work best with specific ISO and it’s best to test your camera for noise levels before you shoot. For more advice on low light shooting look here.

2 Light blockers, flags and reflectors.

Using sunlight for filming can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint but it’s not easy to take control over your scene lighting without flags, reflectors and diffusers. These can be portable and light or chunky and heavy, so if your main priority is C02 reduction think of how it will affect your transport arrangements. If you plan to DIY your blockers or use mirrors as reflectors make sure they are sturdy and keep a member of staff in charge of safety.

3 Use a sun tracker

Never miss the magic hour and take control over your production with a variety of sun tracking apps. It’s easier to always have the sun as back light when you know exactly where it’ll be positioned at a certain time of day.

4 Make continuity your priority

The sun is fickle and can change in minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on your levels to avoid jarring light changes from shot to shot. Make sure you’re looking for continuity of lighting between your close up and mid, for example. Think how it’ll look in edit and try giving your audience a chance to understand the conditions. Use wide shots clearly showing the moving shadows or establishing shots with moving clouds etc…It will make your editors job much easier.

5 Reduce contrast

Get rid of any contrast boosting settings on your camera. Shoot as flat as possible to preserve the information in the shadows and brights.  Use all available meters, histogram and zebra stripes to judge the brightness of your scene. Make sure you shoot with nice, flat levels.

 

 

 

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