New Mexico leads enviro-friendly filmmaking

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Although the New Mexico desert is a bit brown and dusty, it was the state's green side that really impressed filmmaker Paul Haggis.

New Mexico initiated a green filmmaking program earlier this year in an effort to educate productions about the use of alternative materials and environmentally friendly practices, and Haggis, who was directing Warner Independent Pictures' "In The Valley of Elah," became one of the first filmmakers to put the program into practice.

"We refused to rent, or reimburse anybody for, rental cars that didn't get at least 22 miles per gallon," says Haggis, who drove a small Toyota sedan and often carpooled. Because of Haggis' directive, "the production designer spent three months just trying to find materials that were eco-friendly," Haggis confides. "Every place we went (to shoot), we brought our own bins for recycling, and then we had to have trucks pick the stuff up."

Recalls New Mexico Film Office director Lisa Strout, "We connected them with a company that would pick up lumber so it would be recycled, and they obviously weren't driving around a lot of Escalades with one person in them." She's now taking over where Haggis left off, working to bring in a fleet of Toyota Priuses for production rentals.

Besides suggesting filmmakers lease hybrid or electric vehicles, the state's entirely voluntary green filmmaking program identifies resources for buying nontoxic/low-toxic supplies and paints; E85 and biodiesel for generators; and recycled, nontoxic and unbleached office and cleaning supplies. Information that links reliable eco-vendors and resources is posted on the "green filmmaking" tab on nmfilm.com.


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