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At Paper Owl Films we are always trying to innovate and find new ways of doing things, which carries through to our approach on sustainability. From everyday operations in the studio to filming on location, we always try to act with our planet in mind. We aim to implement this in each of our productions, encouraging children to appreciate and respect their environments. Two of our upcoming productions ‘Happy the Hoglet’ and ‘Uisce Uisce’ have been made with sustainability in mind, both in our own actions and in what we show on screen. At Paper Owl Films, all projects achieve Albert Certification as a minimum requirement, and this has now become embedded in our studio’s environmental policy.
Uisce Uisce is a 12-part Irish language children’s series that celebrates the wonder of the waters that flow around and throughout Ireland, and the lives shaped by them. In each episode we meet a new group of children from across Ireland and discover the endless possibilities and fun to be found right on our doorstep, in our country’s natural and plentiful resource. In exploring this, it was important to us that there was a strong environmental message throughout, highlighting that this fun can only be achieved and maintained by respecting and protecting our waters.
In each episode the children display all the ways we can sustainably enjoy our local areas through activities such as surfing, sailing, diving, canoeing, swimming, fishing and much more, all while learning about their environments and educating audiences along the way. As the next generation, the children are also given the opportunity to share their concerns for the future of the environment and discuss the importance of keeping our waters clean, engaging in litter picking and beach clean-up.
The sustainability of this series extended beyond the screen and was maintained throughout the whole production process by the production team. As has become the norm, production on Uisce Uisce took place remotely, reserving travel only for shoots on location. This also allowed for an almost paper free production, with the only documents printed throughout being the release forms.
All contributors for the show were found locally and very small crews were used, with only 3 people ever needing to travel to locations, which we tried to do as sustainably as possible by carpooling and sharing rooms in accommodation. We also followed a ‘leave no trace’ policy on location, recycling any food packaging used and using reusable lunchboxes. The children were each given a reusable water bottle to encourage the continuation of sustainable actions beyond the filming of the programme.
Our second current production is 26-part pre-school series, Happy the Hoglet. Happy and his Sunny River friends reflect the emotional ups, downs and everything in between for a pre-school audience. Addressing all kinds of feelings, the series models emotional resilience for pre-schoolers, inspiring them with the inner strength that comes from tackling big feelings and growing positive ones.
Happy and his friends live in Sunny River Community Garden, an allotment that provides for all creatures. In this well looked-after environment, the audience is invited into a place with many locations and items that link to sustainable living. Locations often demonstrate a self-sufficient allotment where various fruit and vegetables are grown (such as carrots, turnips, strawberries, apples, cabbages and rhubarb), as well as beautiful flower beds! The locations include greenhouses, wheelbarrows, sheds, buckets and shovels which the humans use to tend to their beloved garden. Happy and his friends are creative and often re-use discarded items in their own ways – such as a bowl for a bath, a piece of bark for a bird feeder, or even spoons for a doorbell!
The sustainability of Happy the Hoglet also extends into the shows dialogue. Happy, Duckling, Olivia, Frankie and Cecil are often speaking of ways they can help and provide for other critters. They discover natural processes together, such as metamorphosis and pruning trees. They often revel in the beauty of their world, fascinated by how plants sway in the breeze or by how everything grows and changes with the seasons.
To reflect the content of the series, Happy the Hoglet was produced in a way that was as eco-friendly as possible. Whilst all crew were working almost entirely remotely, they were informed on climate change as well as encouraged to adjust their lifestyles to live in more sustainable ways. Travel and printouts were avoided where possible and the production team were trained in running sustainable productions.
In making all these little steps to be as sustainable as possible, both on and off screen we have been able to stand by the key environmental message woven throughout our productions. Our shows reflect the ways in which we can engage and enjoy our environment safely and sustainably, ensuring that it can be enjoyed and valued by generations of children to come.