As the world turns and temperatures change, sustainability has become a pressing issue across all industries, including entertainment. Hollywood, known for its dissemination of images and messages, is at the forefront of a sweeping cultural shift, dedicated to prioritizing the environment and the challenges it faces, a group of industry leaders has said. industry Thursday at The Hollywood ReporterPictures for the Planet event, presented by Walmart at the Environmental Media Association’s Impact Summit.
The confab keynote, held at the Pendry West Hollywood, centered on filmmaker Eli Roth’s award-winning documentary Fin, which follows Roth and a team of scientists, researchers and activists from around the world to uncover the truth behind the deaths of millions of sharks (100 million per year). Moderated by environmentalist Philippe Cousteau Jr. and joined by underwater photographer Michael Muller, the conversation found Roth talking about the five years he spent making the film in hopes of combating “the propaganda of the fear” that surrounds sharks.
“I grew up in Boston, and Jaws was my favorite movie,” Roth began, but it wasn’t until he was asked to host Shark after dark during the discovery Shark Week, and was sent on a life-changing dive, which made him realize that the creepy underwater creatures “looked so much like dogs”. Muller’s relationship with sharks – and their defense – began about 20 years ago when he first met a Great White.
The trio also discussed global human rights issues plaguing the billion-dollar fishing industry, noting international fishing vessels that illegally deplete local fisheries. Health is a concern, and squalene â a compound in shark liver oil commonly found in skincare products â is very poorly regulated.
Of the sharks, Roth said, âWe’re not supposed to see themâ¦. That’s what the fishing industry is counting on…. There are so many other concerns; why do you care about sharks? [Because] It’s a billion dollar industryâ¦and they actually keep the air clean and the water clean. It’s a matter of education.
The morning opened with remarks from Debbie Levin, CEO of EMA, who welcomed guests by saying, “We are all here because we know that being respectful and responsible for our natural resources does not limit the innovation or lifestyle.
Alan Fuerstman, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Montage International and Pendry Hotels, called the EMA “a powerful force with positive change” and expressed his excitement that this will be the second year the summit has taken place on Pendry’s Sunset Boulevard site. Just like guests of a hotel, “we are all guests of the land,” he said.
The day-long event, which was fueled by an assortment of call-to-action discussions with committed changemakers from the environment and entertainment industries, ran alongside the launch of THR‘sinaugural, Digital Sustainability Issue – dedicated to exploring a greener future for Hollywood. Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Editorial Director of THR, said in his remarks on Thursday, âThe talent, leaders and content we showcase this morning represent some of our industry’s most compelling accomplishments in environmental storytelling. Their stories are remarkable in their shared mission to sound the alarm about our planet’s gravest threats, but also to remind us of all the beauty that still surrounds us.
The first panel of the day asked the question: How can talent take the reins to make productions green? SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher â who led her campaign for the presidency by actively addressing sustainability and launched a âgreen boardâ during her presidency designed to create âeco-friendly entertainmentâ â said she plans to make âan industry-wide ban on single-use productsâ. Plastic [in productions] our first effort on which to build our legacy.
“What we need to take responsibility for doing as an industry is to normalize eco-responsible living,” she said. “We are the biggest influencers on the planet.”
Asher Levin, EMA’s creative director and panel moderator, introduced the organization’s talent rider, described as “a list of things we can push forward in negotiations when an actor wants to have a cleaner set.” .
Hart Bochner, actor, director and EMA board member, shared ideas on what a more sustainable set can look like: less waste (like paper script sides for each actor) and turning off trailer generators when not in use. And John Rego, vice president of sustainability at Sony Pictures Entertainment, spoke about the bright future of virtual production (used for shows like The Mandalorian), which is the next iteration of a green screen wallpaper – an entirely virtual version of reality used to create new worlds.
The following panel, moderated by THR associate editor Degen Pener, focused on storytelling about our changing planet. In recent years, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, documentaries and feature films about our natural world have grown in popularity with viewers. âThey really missed what they couldn’t haveâ¦ They couldn’t travel. They wanted space, they wanted this patch of grass, their backyards became a kind of sanctuary,â said Janet Han Vissering, senior vice president of production and development, natural history content for National Geographic and for NatGeo on Disney+, who also shared tips for filmmakers on how to get funding for projects like these. “They used our movies as an escape and the vacation they wanted to have.”
âNatural history is definitely having a moment,â added series executive producer James Honeyborne. Our Great National Parks, told by former President Barack Obama). “[We must] to help people care about nature and connect with it – that’s why we need to show the beauty and wonder of nature. Â»
Howard Swartz, senior vice president of documentaries and specials, factual networks and streaming at Discovery, shared information on the impact of initiatives such as shark week have had on people’s relationship to the environment. âThe first year was in 1980; it’s now become what is essentially our Super Bowl every year â it’s a pop culture phenomenon,â he said. And John Chester, filmmaker and subject of the feature documentary The The biggest little farm, spoke of his experience meeting visitors from both sides of the political divide at his Apricot Lane Farms and his wife in Moorpark, California, saying, âShame and fear are what polarize and divide us as as a people, as a country, as a planetâ¦ innovation is engendered by trust and hope.
All the films and series discussed during the morning panels, including The The biggest little farm (National Geographic/Disney+), Our major national parks (Netflix) and Roth’s Fin (Discovery+), “Defending the importance of protecting our planet,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, adding, “They underscore the need to preserve and restore our natural resources and the biodiversity of our ecosystems that we know how much we all rely on.”
Ewing recognized the role both megacorporation Walmart and Hollywood play in inspiring real change in society. âWe have the same customers, people who watch the entertainment industry â movies, documentaries â they walk into our store and buy online; we serve 130 million customers every week,â Ewing said. THR after his opening address. âSo we talk to the same peopleâ¦. Hollywood specifically has the opportunity to inspire and engage in a very powerful way, and if we can be consistent with similar types of messaging when they shop with us, I think we can drive behavior change .
The final early afternoon event was a very first live recording from Phil Rosenthal (creator and host of Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil) and Peabody and Emmy award-winning television writer and producer David Wild’s naked lunch podcast, with special guest Wolfgang Puck (whose new restaurant, Merois, is on the roof of the Pendry Hotel). The hosts asked Puck several questions about the moments seen in the new Disney+ documentary Wolfgangwhich tells the story of the world-renowned chef’s beginnings and rise in the world of food.
When Rosenthal asked if his superstar (thanks, in large part, to the success of Los Angeles staple Spago) had replaced people’s view of him as a terrific chef, Puck replied, “In the kitchen, I don’t think of stars. I think they are very good cooks and business people.â¦ We do our job – maybe part of it as an art – but this Hollywood thing with stars and stars and stars is a little [messed] at the top.”
Wild called Puck the “Sinatra of Chefs”, to which Puck replied, “I want to be The Weeknd of Chefs”, with his trademark warm smile.
This event was conducted in accordance with local health and safety guidelines.