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MetFilm School’s Green Journey with Client Earth

By Jonny Persey

08 November 2019

Back in 2010, MetFilm Futures – then called Met GO, was approached by a small group of concerned residents from nearby Kew who had been spending their weekends fishing plastic bags from the Thames. They had secured a meeting with the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and prime minister, David Cameron – and they wanted a video that told the story. They asked us to help, and graduates Dan Chisholm and Charlie Kneen produced and directed a short film which dramatized the impact of fragments of plastic making its way into a family’s food chain. The meeting happened, the film was screened, and a green paper went through parliament, becoming law a few years later.

Forward a few years, and the concern about single-use plastic has become part of our everyday lexicon, and the many of us have been astonished and delighted by the speed with which the movement sparked by the likes of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion has permeated government policy, corporate awareness, and public behaviour. We may have barely touched the surface in terms of the change required, but I can’t but hope that the momentum is now there. 

Film and content is key to social change – by telling the story smartly we can personalise the challenge and make the call to action accessible. MetFilm Production’s How to Change the World which premiered at Sundance 2015 tells the story of how the early pioneers of Greenpeace built a sense of drama and jeopardy on film in order to galvanise the watching public. Greenpeace co-founder, Bob Hunter, called it a mind bomb, where we might now call it going viral. As we’ve all seen, this power has been used to great effect by interest groups the world over, for good and for bad, in recent years. 

Partnership with Client Earth

I’m delighted that this year, MetFilm School partnered with Client Earth, an incredible organisation who take governments and corporations to court on behalf of their only client, Planet Earth. Client Earth have become so influential, that they rarely ever need to get to court – just a letter is often enough to force the desired change. Our students have already completed a series of videos highlighting the impact that rising tides and climate changes are having on the indigenous people of the Torres Straight Islanders, Queensland. Recently, MetFilm School graduate Sonum Somaria successfully pitched to create a number of brand videos highlighting the lawyers work and ethos, including a profile on CEO James Thornton.

Those productions, along with every other film coming out of MetFilm School, will now have to complete a green checklist in order to access school cameras and kit. The checklist is designed to make filmmakers consider the environment in their production decision making and it’s based on a scoring system. Twice per year, in April and October, the highest-scoring productions of the previous 6 months will compete to win a prize of £1000 in Procam credits. 

Let’s go green! #metfilmgoesgreen

MetFilm staff showing solidarity with #FilmStrikeForClimate, September 2019


Watch the trailer for MetFilm Production’s How to Change the World