'Abyss' set producer on road to eco-awareness

If Gale Anne Hurd wants to, she’ll have her cake and eat it, too. That is, she wants to continue to produce hardware-heavy, action-packed tentpoles while also attempting to green Hollywood, one of the world’s least environmentally sound industries.

A fourth-generation Californian, Hurd asserts her home region has devolved. Scores of overwatered, overfertilized golf courses have unnaturally altered the delicate desert ecosystem in Palm Springs, while the San Fernando Valley’s once-historic acres of citrus groves have given way to today’s concrete jungle.

While producing one of her best-known films in 1989, Hurd’s conscience was stirred.

“After I made ‘The Abyss,’ I became an avid scuba diver,” she says. “I began to see the degradation of the oceans from pollution, runoff and overfishing. I became an advocate for the ocean and evolved from there.”

That evolution included actively greening her habits, deprioritizing comfort and cost in the process.

“Setting the thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter — that’s the tough one,” she laughs. “I own some commercial and industrial real estate, and we’re installing a lot of solar. I plan to do that with my house as well. It really is a viable technology now.”

But Hurd is not satisfied to limit activism to her home life. At Vertical Wine Bistro, her Pasadena restaurant, she ensures that chef Sara Levine practices a sustainable business. Hurd has also served on the boards of the Waterkeeper Alliance, Heal the Bay and Global Green USA — just a few of the orgs she has worked with during her years as an activist.

With this month’s release of “The Incredible Hulk,” the producer is showing Hollywood that film sets can be as green as the pic’s titular character.

“From the very beginning, Marvel, Universal, Edward Norton and I were all focused on making (‘Hulk’) a very green production,” she says. “One of our very first pre-

production meetings with department heads was a green meeting.”

Reducing carbon footprint

On-set efforts ranged from drastically decreased use of plastic utensils and water bottles to hiring an environmental consultant. As a result, “Hulk” will be the first major motion picture with the Environmental Media Assn.’s Green Seal (based on criteria of how to green film sets) added to its credits.

“People in the industry really understand how powerful their role modeling can be,” says EMA prexy Debbie Levin, who calls Hurd “one of the greenest producers in Hollywood.”

Hurd looks forward to a day when the world — especially Hollywood — accepts environmental awareness as a lifestyle necessity.

“A lot of these things are more difficult,” she declares. “But when everyone is on the same page, we’ll find better ways.”

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