If there ever was a movie that should conveniently embrace the go-green zeitgeist, it’s “Evan Almighty.” In it, a congressman is tasked by God to become a modern-day Noah, build an ark and save life from an imminent flood.
If you’re as cynical as I am sometimes – oh, hell, let’s be honest, all the time – you might hear NPR’s recent story about “Evan Almighty’s” carbon-neutral production plan as a PR counteroffensive.
After all, “Evan Almighty” is the most expensive comedy ever made. Its price tag? An ungodly $200 million, including marketing costs.
If this movie fails at the box office, the irony of wasting millions of dollars, and consuming small forests of ark-building supplies, to make a delusional environmental comedy – apparently, the computer-generated flood is almighty but spares all lives – could have put the Universal execs on the defensive.
But those studio execs have all the answers they need for nosey reporters come Sunday night when box office numbers, good or bad, are reported.
Reporter: “So you wasted millions making a pseudo-eco movie that ultimately says nothing about the reality of global warning?”
Exec: “Not really. Our intentions were good. Our production plan was carbon-neutral.”
Reporter: “Carbon what?”
Exec: “Yeah, we planted enough trees to swallow up the emissions generated by the making of the film.”
Reporter: “Really? Maybe I should have bought a ticket.”
According to NPR’s story, “Evan Almighty” did work to reduce significantly its carbon footprint. That’s good news to anyone who considers global warming a menacing reality. (I’m a green sympathizer, if you can’t tell.)
The makers of “Evan Almighty" are setting a mighty example, and our state should take heed.
Louisiana should invest in meaningful go-green tax credit initiatives for the entertainment industry – and for all industries, for that matter – if for no other reason than Hollywood shapes public opinion.
Without “An Inconvenient Truth” or “March of the Penguins,” do you think millions of moviegoers would care two cents (or $7.50 per ticket) about the plight of our feathered friends in Antarctica? Not a chance.
If production companies come to Louisiana and successfully execute carbon-neutral production plans, the state should reward them.
Used hybrid vehicles to transport cast and crew? Buy only biodiesel fuel? Make the crew members ride bicycles or rickshaws? Set aside a conservation fund to plant enough trees to effectively renew the piles of lumber used to build sets? Plant even more trees to swallow up the emissions generated by plane tickets and trucks? Recycle every paper scrap, aluminum can and plastic water bottle used? Compost food waste? Donate money to in-state eco-friendly nonprofits like Chimp Haven or Audubon Nature Institute?
If production companies can prove they are making a sincere attempt to be green, the state should give them a 35 percent tax credit on all related in-state expenses.
Movie industry advocates often tell us that their industry is a clean one, suggesting that it tidies up its messes and doesn’t negatively impact the environment.
But that’s not really true, as Tom Shadyac, director of “Evan Almighty,” suggests in his interview with NPR. He’s aware his crew of 400 used lots of fuel just to get where they were going every day. He’s aware that a movie production generates a lot of daily waste in the form of paper and trash. He’s aware that an airplane advertising blitz for “Evan Almighty” over Lake Michigan consumed lots of jet fuel.
“Those poisons, we chose to offset by planting trees,” Shadyac told NPR. The simple plan was much better than no plan at all.
“The idea is to minimize the hypocrisy,” Shadyac continued. “Once the intent is there, I think at lease the ship is steering in the right direction. We can solve these problems.”
If go-green tax incentives come from state-led initiatives, great. If they come from the federal level, even better.
For now, whatever Louisiana can do to demonstrate its entertainment industry is forward-thinking will pay off in a flood of goodwill.
Do I hear an amen?