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How do you make the movie industry more sustainable? That’s the question Alexandra Wu and David Helsing got to solve in their project for the organization Film i Skåne, through Miljöbron. David and Alexandra are on their final year of their studies at the Environmental Management and Policy program at IIIEE, Lund University, and the project didn’t just give them the opportunity to try out their knowledge in the field on a real case, but they also got to continue working for Film i Skåne to implement their ideas after finishing the course.

Greening the movie industry

Backing up to the beginning of this collaboration: - Film i Skåne was just starting to explore ways to integrate environmental management in its organisation and improving the sustainability practices of the films it co-produces, Alexandra explains. - What we ended up doing was to do an assessment of the current practices at the company, and how they could improve over time in different steps, going from making their own organisation greener, to improving the environmental standards of the films that shoot in Skåne, and beyond, David adds. He highlights the difference of the movie industry regarding environmental management. - …it is very different from other regular types of industry that we environmental specialists usually tackle, such as industrial production or retail, in that it is very difficult to standardise a film production; all film productions are different!

Alexandra Wu, student at Lund University IIIEE

"I learned how to translate some of these global issues in such a way that individuals can feel empowered to make real change at the local level and contribute to solving universal challenges."

From the Asian sustainability sphere to Swedish film

The aim of the course is for the students to learn about creating business value through environmental management and try out being environmental consultants for an organisation. The project was carried by three students including Alexandra and David, although for both of them working in the environmental field was nothing new. Alexandra has a bachelor degree in environmental science from the University of Waterloo in Canada while David did his bachelor in sociology at Tokyo University. Before entering the EMP-program both of them worked in the Asian market with environmental issues.

– After my graduation, I decided that I wanted to gain international working experience, so I moved to Beijing, China and found a job at a sustainability consulting firm that specialized in implementing European Commission-funded projects, says Alexandra. And then she continues, - I switched jobs and worked for another two years in a Chinese government-funded NGO that supports Asia-Pacific countries on sustainable forest management. These experiences were heavily focused on the socioeconomics side of environmental issues, and so I decided to take the EMP program because I wanted to fill in knowledge gaps from my work with more comprehensive academic studies.

David on the other hand stayed in Japan after his degree. – At the end of my studies I became more and more interested in environmental problems, global warming in particular, and decided to try to enter a think-tank or consultancy to work with this. I managed to do this, and worked at Mitsubishi Research Institute, a large Japanese think-tank with about 800 researchers at the time, where I was in the environment and energy division.

Great ideas from the school desk led to new opportunities

Trying out your skills in real cases allows you to see opportunities and limitations that are hard to visualize in theory. It can also give you other insights and experiences valuable for the time beyond your studies. When asking what they bring with them from the project Alexandra says, - I would say that my biggest takeaway is learning how to better and more effectively communicate environmental issues to a general audience…I learned how to translate some of these global issues in such a way that individuals can feel empowered to make real change at the local level and contribute to solving universal challenges. In this way I also felt more empowered myself, and feel very lucky that I got to work with the film industry. – Presenting in front of 50-something representatives from different companies in the film industry was a pleasant experience, David adds.

David Helsing, Student at Lund University IIIEE

"Film i Skåne asked if we were interested to continue our collaboration and develop environmental criteria for the films that they fund."

As mentioned, the project didn’t just result in great ideas for Film i Skåne but also business opportunities for Alexandra and David, where they got hired as consultants to implement the ideas in a real movie production with the production company Anagram. – Film i Skåne asked if we were interested to continue our collaboration and develop environmental criteria for the films that they fund. I and Alex are currently doing work on this, more specifically we are doing a case study on a current production, looking at how they are working, and how that could be improved, and what is feasible. In mid-June, we also did a 1‑day workshop on environmental issues and green film production together with a film producer from Zentropa in Gothenburg, Ronny Fritsche, David explains.

Striving for positive change

After graduation in the fall, both David and Alexandra plans to stay in Sweden for work. – I plan to take it easy for a bit, but if something really interesting comes up I will jump at it, says David when asking him about the near future. He then continues: - After a short break, I'm thinking of applying for a job at a Government agency dealing with environmental issues, as I've never worked in the public sector, or maybe in the financial sector with a sustainability focus. But I am open for any kind of offer as long as it is interesting and has the potential to have a large impact, just to let the readers know! Alexandra hopes to end up in either an NGO or working with sustainable business management at a company. – I do not have a specific interest in a type of business or organization, as long as I can work in a place where I can make a real impact and contribute to positive change - that is my top criteria…many Scandinavian companies are known to be on the forefront of integrating sustainability strategies in their business, and I would also love to be a part of that.