For the French industry, the drive to open up additional studio spaces has gone hand-in-hand with the push for green production, because for the most part, they share the same root cause: The international streamers that are causing a surge in audiovisual production tend to have strict criteria when it comes to sustainable development.
“Companies like Netflix require the studio partners to be eco-responsible,” says Film Paris Region executive Joanna Gallardo. “[So in order to compete on that scale], the studio of tomorrow will also be eco-responsible.”
As TSF operations director Florent Goursat sees it, that shouldn’t be a problem. “We’re already starting from scratch,” he says, “so it’s easier to build a sustainable studio. In terms of energy, waste and water, we plan to be practically autonomous. That’s the idea.”
Only to hear Goursat explain it, TSF’s push to turn Backlot 217 into a major production destination is deeply entwined with the company’s ecological aims – or perhaps the other way around.
While TSF plans to build a water tower – a common sight on most major studio backlots – they also plan to install a rainwater collection system alongside it. While they will outfit their soundstages with vegetal walls and roofs, they’ll do so for a wholly functional reason.
“Those green walls and roofs are not only ecologically friendly,” says Goursat. “They also protect against noise — both noise from the outside world, such as rain, and also the noise that we make inside.”
And while the TSF brass hash out plans to recreate blocks of Paris’ 9th arrondissement on site, their thinking is as much guided by a desire to draw parallels with storied Hollywood sites as by a pragmatic calculation – the city of Paris is congested enough as is, and moving productions offsite could have clear environmental benefits.
Indeed, parts of the lot might not resemble anything close to a set. Pushing beyond simple the solar panels, the backlot looks to source some of its energy via miscanthus, a silvergrass that can be used as a biofuel, that they plan to grow on site. And because they figured why not go all out, have worked closely with local farmer to allow sheep to graze there as well.
In fact, the backlot’s green evolution predates its future as a production locale. “The government wanted to reorient this former base towards something more ecological,” Goursat explains. “We inserted ourselves into this already ongoing effort. Of course, we had our own idea [of what to do with the space], and we joined this project in order to make the construction of this set a real ecological process.”