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'Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows' Movie Exemplifies Eco-Friendly Filmmaking

First Posted: 12/15/11 09:21 PM ET Updated: 12/15/11 09:24 PM ET

From Mother Nature Network's Gerri Miller:

When it comes to green production, "Warner Bros. is extremely conscious about that and works with the physical production people to try and do as much as possible, making sure that everything that can be recycled is," says Susan Downey, producer of "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," which stars her husband, Robert Downey Jr. and opens Dec. 16. "Most movies are made digitally," adds producer Joel Silver, pointing out that filmmaking has become a cleaner, less wasteful business. Co-producer Lauren Meek shares some specifics.

"As part of the Warner Bros. Green Initiative, Greenshoot were brought in to consult and assist the production in lowering the carbon footprint of 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' and to help implement more sustainable production practices in conjunction with and to complement the Green initiatives already set out by Warner Bros. Over a six-month period, the crew of 'SH2' worked to make the production more sustainable and with help, education and guidance more environmentally conscious. Our success was driven by on-set daily presence, experience and drawing the crew into the green practices and initiatives as set out by Jon Romano at Warner Bros in conjunction with the Greenshoot team," she begins.

"From the outset, most crew members on 'SH2' were curious and enthusiastic, many already recycled at home, so understood the need to bring good practice into our industry, which like other industries can produce high carbon emissions. To keep the unit energized, achievement signs were posted regularly. These were a great success in motivating everyone," notes Meek. "Construction set waste and food waste were key issues for us. Managing these with an on-set presence was extremely effective: the waste from main unit was separated, achieving over a 93 percent diversion percentage of the 680 tons of general waste created to be recycled away from landfill, and over 10 tons of food waste directly to composting, diverting the waste into a food to energy stream."

In the end, says Meek, "We diverted 756 tons of film waste from landfill with a recovery rate of 98.4 percent which was a zero landfill achievement. We saved 2,500 tons of C02 from being emitted by using Greenshoot and adopting green practices throughout the production, and saved money through Greenshoot's services into the production."

Although the film takes place in several European countries, visual effects enabled the production to cut down on travel and shoot everything in England, except for a few establishing shots. The Guy Ritchie-directed sequel reunites Downey Jr. with Jude Law, their bantering Holmes-Watson bromance chemistry intact, and introduces Sherlock's best-known nemesis, Jared Harris as iconic über-villain Moriarty, a formidable foil for the fast-talking sleuth. "A lot of the film is spontaneous in terms of the levity and the humor. Just the game of trumping keeps everyone stimulated," notes Ritchie.

Also new to the sequel is Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), whose role as a gypsy woman key to the plot is her English-speaking film debut. She found the experience "very playful and easy and creative. It felt like we created this character together in a way. I became one of the boys pretty much." She enjoyed getting down and dirty in physical and fight scenes. "You hurt yourself a lot sometimes but that's kind of a part of it. The emotional scenes were more difficult," says Rapace, who went to work on Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" right afterward. "It was a really intense year," she reflects.

For his part, Downey Jr. was eager to re-inhabit Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous character. "We're all part of the same collective of honoring this great writer and his stories," says the actor, who next reprises another of his roles, Tony Stark/Iron Man, in next May's "The Avengers" before doing so again in "Iron Man 3," due in 2013.

Grammy-winning composer Hans Zimmer, who has written the musical scores for everything from "The Dark Knight" and "Gladiator" to "The Lion King," for which he won an Oscar, and the first "Sherlock Holmes," took a road trip to Slovakia to assemble 13 authentic Roma (gypsy) musicians, "put them on a bus and went to Vienna, and ensconced them in a studio for a while" to get the flavor of gypsy culture in the film. While the language barrier posed problems, "that old cliché that music is a common language started to come true," notes Zimmer, who took care with the "really old instruments" used in the movie. He notes that he's been trying to make his recording studio greener, "but they don't make it easy. I'm from Munich and when I go back to Germany and drive into the countryside every farmhouse has solar, but not over here, where we get all the sun. We're doing [solar] on the house, that's no problem, but the studio should be a no-brainer and it's not. I don't care about the cost," he says. "I care about 'Let's not ruin the world."

Zimmer's next films are "Dark Knight Rises" and "Madagascar 3." Along with Pharrell Williams, he will serve as a music consultant to the 84th Academy Awards, taking place Feb. 26.

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Filed by James Gerken  |