A Song for My Mother: An Eco-Friendly Film

  • 22.03.2013

Sophie Cornet is an independent eco-advisor. With the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, she published a Small ecocinema guide, distributed by the cinema center in 2011. You can download it in pdf on this page .
This is an initial educational and initiating step. Sophie, who focuses her work on the entertainment and culture industry, also works for La Monnaie. She is responsible for the environmental management of the institution and the ecological impact of the shows that are developed there.

Sophie’s ambition is to make film shoots more “ecologically responsible”. She has just had her first long-term cinematographic experience on Une Chanson Pour ma Mère, the feature film by Joël Franka.



Right from the start, Sophie met people at Bonne Pioche, the French production company, who were aware of the issue on a personal and structural level. The first contacts took place one year before the beginning of the shooting and Sophie, in charge of the coordination and the impulse of the project, had thus all the time to conceive her (inter)action in a progressive way with the intermediaries who were to support her.

Novak, the executive producer in Belgium, helped me to convince the Belgian and French producers of the interest of the approach. Bernard de Dessus was an indispensable support in presenting the project to everyone. It is already him who had supported the ecology and cinema approach by introducing me to the cinema center in 2010. It was a question of making everyone understand that the eco-responsible dimension could be harmoniously integrated into the management of the film without interfering with the shooting or the budget.

Once these materials are acquired, the next step is to discuss with each of the department heads: the production manager, the set designers, the stage managers to develop ideas that can be applied to a specific shoot. In the case ofA Song for My Mother, an overall plan was defined and the charter was inserted into the bible. As the days went by, a communication job taken care of by the production served as a constant reminder.



In concrete terms, the process begins with a reflection on how to rationalize certain structural aspects: reducing paper consumption by all teams, for example. It looks simple, but the audit extended to the weight of the sheets, the type of printing done, the recycling of the documents…

During the shooting, a series of decisions, notably related to the stewardship and the canteen, were taken in consultation with the team, such as the suppression of disposable cups. It doesn’t sound like much, but to give a figure that might strike the imagination, 9000 plastic glasses were saved. And of course we are talking about a modest size shoot.


In order to avoid the use of these environmentally unfriendly containers, a partnership was established with a company that offers an ecological gourd . Each team member was given a copy to fill at a water fountain. For soft drinks, glass bottles, which are recyclable, replaced plastic bottles or cans.

Classic glasses were also available. Combined with the plates and cutlery, they were the main concern of the stewardship team… who had to wash the dishes often. However, the project was carried out seriously until the end.


The general selective sorting was also institutionalized, which was not an easy task since the filming moved several times. In Libramont, the work was carried out with the municipality which provided sorting bins. In Overijse, differentiated waste garbage cans were provided to the team with signs. Small educational issue: from one commune to another, the colors of the bags being different, it was important to make everyone aware of the problem in order to keep a maximum attention.

The ecological aspect of the shooting is also reflected in the choice of the canteen. On A Song for My Mother, there were two. Sophie particularly appreciated the approach of the one who used to work in Overijse. Located in Virginal, L’Etable d’Hôtes is not “content” to cook organic products. The ecological implication is at the heart of a reflection set up in working mode with the constant research of food of small local producers, of season, food and distributed in short circuit. In the end, the team was delighted with the healthy, hearty and energetic meals

The decoration team, very conscious of the phenomenon, preferred to look for recycled and reused materials to build the elements of the decor. Beyond the desire to “recycle”, the will to work with healthier materials, less polluting, led for example to repaint the farmhouse with lime paint rather than with any less natural material. According to Paul Rouschop, a renowned decorator, this approach could lead to substantial savings if you take the time to think about sustainable purchasing and recycling.
The costume department followed a similar approach: instead of designing monk’s robes, they favored reused costumes.

The last point implemented on the shooting ofA Song for My Mother is related to the polluting emissions due to transportation. Viaecoscore.be The production was able to make an informed choice of the most suitable vehicles for the concept. The selected company even provided an electric car that is Michel’s (Fabrizio Rongione) in the film. A subliminal message to the spectators: Michel, who is the trendy one in the family, has chosen the future!

The selection of accommodation was also made as close to the plateau as possible, while an incentive to carpool was reinforced by a bonus: a higher reimbursement per km for all those who practiced it. It was enough to think about it.

What do all these approaches have in common? Look for intelligent solutions rather than giving in to the easy way out. Always. In all areas. And this is just the beginning of course.


At this stage, the short-term economic impact of choosing environmentally friendly filming is difficult to measure. But as long as it doesn’t cost more, no one will object. Nevertheless, it is already possible to integrate these arguments of sustainable development in the search for complementary financing in order to find new investors in the form of institutions or companies particularly sensitive to these essential matters.
In France and the United Kingdom, two countries that are particularly advanced in this field, various tools have already been devised to achieve a financial balance around these ecological approaches.

The much larger number of film shoots than at home allows for a broader basis of reflection, focused on the purchase of sustainable and reusable materials and a more rational consumption of natural resources. In the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, the “Agir” project was set up in 2010. It is a regional program for sustainable development. A position dedicated to cinema is incorporated. Since its inception, film producers have been able to submit eco-friendly applications and receive support. So far, more than twenty projects have already been supported by this program

The site ecoprod website also gives many advices and practical information for environmentally friendly audiovisual productions.

After the exceptional work done by Nic Balthazar on his second feature film Tot Altijd, the work that Sophie Cornet undertook on the shooting of Une Chanson pour ma mère is a different approach, but one that could well lead to a long-term operation affecting a part of the productions initiated in our country.

If you are interested in this initiative, do not hesitate to contact Sophie via her website .

The economic development of a region that claims to ignore its sustainable development is a concept that does not hold water… Setting up and promoting eco-responsible filming is therefore an idea… 100% Wallimage-compatible.