[IMG:L]If doing a series of films in which God gets top billing doesn’t help director Tom Shadyac rack up some good karma, putting the almighty environment over the almighty dollar surely should.
During production of Evan Almighty, Shadyac’s follow up to the 2003 smash hit Bruce Almighty, the filmmaker and his colleagues made it a top priority to be an eco-friendly film. “We hopefully wanted to live our message so we went green, meaning we erased our carbon footprint on the movie,” Shadyac tells Hollywood.com
The filmmakers worked with The Conservation Fund to undo any damage inflicted on the environment during production. Together, they calculated the carbon emissions from the machinery, vehicles, production planes and anything else that emits carbon dioxide and planted the amount of CO2 absorbing trees it takes to balance, or “zero-out”, that emission.
It took 2,050 trees to be exact. Jena Thompson of The Conservation Fund praises the Evan Almighty team with being a picture perfect production from an environmental standpoint, “It is absolutely a model for the industry. This is certainly the first and the largest comedy of its kind to participate in this way. It has gone above and beyond just planting trees. This is an incredible environmental effort from start to finish.”
[IMG:R]Shadyac defines how their green initiatives began, “We recycled during filming. Every piece of material—lumber, windows, door and window treatments, flooring, hardware, etc.—that was salvageable was recycled, repurposed and donated somewhere, as opposed to just throwing it into a landfill. We melted down the steel (from the ark’s steel infrastructure), sold it and then donated the money to Habitat for Humanity.” They also contributed some 300 shrubs and trees from the set to the non-profit organization.
Other efforts made during production included using recycled paper for all marketing materials and scripts, providing bicycles to crew members and drinking bottled HtoO (Hope to Others) water on the set. Founded by Shadyac, the company donates 100 percent of profits after taxes to charities around the world. The empty plastic bottles were then, of course, recycled.
Once shooting wrapped on the set, Hollace Davids, Senior VP of Universal Pictures Special Projects, picked up the torch by making sure all the red carpet events to promote the film were in line with the production’s green agenda. In almost a single breath, she can rapid fire a long list of eco-actions they took at the Los Angeles premiere for the film: “We used recycled paper for everything, we used edible centerpieces for everything, we recycled the trash, we worked with The Conservation Fund to zero-out the carbon footprint, we used ecologically sound vehicles in terms of bio-diesel and hybrid, we had pedicabs to get from our place to the party, we even gave away the G.E. light bulbs.”
But the mightiest of all the deeds has been their co-creation of a website intended to get the rest of the public on board with their green objectives. Universal considers the www.getonboardnow.org website the centerpiece to the film’s partnership with The Conservation Fund.
At the ‘Get on Board’ site a $5 donation buys you a tree-- actually two trees. One is a real tree that the Conservation Fund plants in an area that is in need, and the other is virtual tree that resides in the digital ‘Almighty Forest’.
[IMG:L]Universal believes that the low-cost and high-incentive program has helped them hit a sweet spot with the public, “As a result of creating that site we’ve now planted almost 20,000 trees and made almost a $100k donation. Actually, we will be donating over 100,000 in a couple of days to The Conservation Fund. It’s all direct to them, it’s not money that Universal collects,” according to Doug Neil, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Universal, a key figure in the development of the ‘Get On Board’ site.
Everyone who plants a tree in the ‘Almighty Forest’ before June 22 will also see his or her name on the Evan Almighty DVD.
If helping the environment and the allure of a little bit of fame isn’t incentive enough, Evan Almighty actor Morgan Freeman tells a cautionary tale in an attempt to incite action, “We are the new dinosaurs. And if we aren’t careful, we’re going to wind up just like the old ones did.”
While not an official commandment, the advice is coming from a guy who has, after all, played God on a couple of occasions.