Interview by The European Forum in Italy... By ALMA DADDARIO.
How can it be that the movie industry be sustainable: an interview to Antonio Saillant. US producer and director, Antonio Saillant is the founder and principal owner of Angel Light Communications.
He produced a fantasy thriller starring Corbin Bernsen called “The Ascension.” In addition, he worked on the film “Heterosexuals” produced by J. Robert Spencer, who starred in two outstanding Broadway musicals “Jersey Boys” and “Next to Normal. It’s commonly believed that when it comes to energy efficiency and movies, Saillant is the one person that has a vision and passion for both. He’s known as one of the most outspoken “green individual” in New York City, and soon in Hollywood.
Question – How can it be that an Aerospace-Mechanical Engineer become a movie producer & director?
Answer – Many people have asked me that very same question and I always give them the same answer. In fact, whether your in any field of engineering, architecture or even design, what we all have in common with filmmaking is the art of imagination and be able to create something from nothing. What I love about film is that it’s considered the most collaborative of all art forms, and the group dynamic between director, screenwriter, cast and crew, always comes shining through in the finished product. The combination of engineering and business helped make this transition easier. Having learned from great Hollywood legends like Ted Kotcheff and the late Sydney Pollack was definitely a stepping-stone in the right direction. In order to gain someone’s friendship in the industry, when meeting a director or a producer for the first time, “be yourself.” Everything you read, learn or experience changes who you are and your goals for who you want to become. You should strive to constantly develop your relationship as you develop yourself.
Q – Have you ever had (since your childhood) a special “movie hero” (actor or character)?
A – Yes, Al Pacino, Born in East Harlem, New York City to Italian American parents and still considered a true New Yorker. He is known for films such as “Godfather,” ”Dog Day Afternoon” and “Carlito’s Way,” and his first docudrama “Looking for Richard” in 1996 and “Scent of a Woman,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992, after receiving seven previous nominations. He has won the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and is currently the co-President of The Actors Studio in New York. Pacino’s commitment to acting and directing as a profession has established him as one of cinema’s true legends. Mr. Pacino will always be considered my number one hero in life and in this business. He is a pure example of what I consider the definition of The Art of Entertainment.
Q – Why you had the idea that also a movie industry can be “environmentally friendly”?
A – I am now very active in energy conservation and helping future television and movie industry to push the idea of the initiatives of going green. In the past, I saved energy to major hospitals, pharmaceuticals and major businesses in New York City, New Jersey and even Radio City Music Hall and the old Yankee Stadium. In addition, The Hebrew Home of the Age and The Jewish Home Lifecare in New York. I decided to combine my knowledge of the energy business with the entertainment industry in hopes to contribution in our world’s quest to better our planets environment. I am truly making a mark to becoming one of the most outspoken green individual in New York City, and soon in Hollywood, and I hope to make an impact in the world. I provided hundreds of clients nationwide with energy and sustainability solutions about perceptions, barriers and opportunities for energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. You can reach a worldwide audience having “green-energy” in films and television. It is a great way of spreading the message using the media to help better our environment in all nations.
Q – What is the vision of your enterprise “Angel Light Communications”?
A – Angel Light Communications and Dream Destinations were created to educate and inspire future artists that have that entrepreneurial spirit, raw talent and mastery. These companies have the artistic vision and with the goal of bringing the universal themes of friendship, integrity and goodwill to the big screen, and to television for worldwide audiences who are tired of the stereotyped movie formula. With that said, within this group I am focusing into combining both the motion pictures with the energy business model in order to make both my vision quests into reality.
Q – Are you implementing any kind of project (as conferences, meetings with associations and governance) to spread and condivide this idea?
A - I will be setting up future meetings with studio executives in film and television to discuss ways the industry can be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly and if money is an issue, I will work with State, City and utilities to develop rebate incentives in order to help in the green efforts. There are many additional things that our government can do to pitch in. The New York Solar Energy Industry Association (NYSEIA), which a dear friend of mine, Ron Kamen, once served as President, has a comprehensive plan for what government can do to better support solar, including instituting a government purchasing program, educating the public to the benefits of solar, and additional public-private partnerships that can exponentially increase the use of solar. I consider myself a big supporter of solar technology and that it will play a major role in creating a sustainable economic and social future.
Q – Do you think in USA (among ordinary people) there is enough consciousness about problems connected to sustainability in all the contests of life?
A – I believe ordinary people are very much conscious of the surrounding problems dealing with Global Warming on our planet. The tremendous risk of climate change, the fresh water crisis and its consequences for food security, the unsustainable exploitation and depletion of biological resources, droughts and desertification, the increasing air, water and soil contamination by hazardous chemicals, the increase in poverty and unequal distribution of income among countries are all alarming issues. In addition, in a globalizing world, there is growing public demand for corporate responsibility and transparency. The “Ordinary People” are also today’s employees, which desire a sound and healthy environment. They want to be proud of the companies for which they are working. Financiers are increasingly screening their investments using environmental and social criteria.
Q – And do you find differences (or affinities) with Europe?
A - In brief, Europeans are much more energy conscious than Americans. Efficient energy use has become a cultural norm in Europe, perhaps because costs for gas, electricity, and water are much higher than they are in the US. Energy costs are not negligible, which means that Europeans remain conscious that every kilowatt is costing them money. The sun is the largest power source in the solar system. Converting more solar power into electricity is high on the political agenda in many countries, amid the push to find domestic energy sources that are less polluting than fossil fuels. Despite rapid growth in recent years, solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of electricity use in the United States. Solar power is more entrenched in European countries like Spain and Germany, which have promoted its development with strong incentives called feed-in tariffs that require electric utilities to buy solar power at a high, fixed price. The United States accounted for $1.6 billion of the world’s $29 billion market for solar panels; California is by far the leading solar state. European countries have ambitious targets in the field of environment and energy policy. They have a new climate-energy legislative package that sets mandatory national corresponding to a 20% share of renewable energies in overall community energy consumption by 2020 and a mandatory 10% minimum target to be achieved by all Member States for the share of renewable energy in transport consumption by 2020.
Q – What do you think of “green celebrities” that nowadays are testimonial involved in many different ways, as for ex: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Ted Danson, and others? (Can be only a new way to make “show business”…)
A – Earth Week reminds us all that we need to do our part to protect our planet. There are also many celebrities who are all about being green and sharing their passion for a better environment. Being Green is one hot topic that quite honestly we should all be making it a priority in our lives. Many of your favorite celebs are setting an example by living a green life and using their star status to create awareness on the subject. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Forest Whitaker, Chace Crawford, Jason Bateman, Emmy Rossum and more stars appear in the past PSA asking Americans to contact the government about passing a clean energy bill. Efforts are taking place throughout the movie and television industries and in all companies to recycle materials and cut down on water consumption. Production is an inherently high-polluting business and the process of turning Green takes time and money. Leonardo Di Caprio certainly practices what he preaches from biking when he can, to driving a Hybrid to buying eco-friendly homes. Yes In addition, He produced his own documentary about Global Warming to get the word out. Brad Pitt It is no secret that Pitt has a passion project in New Orleans that has helped rebuild part of the city with eco-friendly homes. It was a tall order but the star rose to the challenge and is still a big part of the project that began years ago. These are just some of the people I follow or look up to when it comes to being green. I have the utmost respect for anyone famous or not who works to make our planet better.
Q – What kind of things an “ordinary man” can do by himself to help?
A - I think an “ordinary person” can do many things that can lead to living a very ‘green’ life. Learn and research the awareness of opportunities that exist to make a difference particularly in the area of environmental friendliness. For example: In the summer, open windows and blinds for cool nighttime, close during midday and afternoon. Hang dry clothes. Wear light clothes. In the winter, wear heavier clothes indoors. Insulate. Pile snow against the house during extreme cold. Build outdoor freezer. Leave hot water from shower or bath in tub till it cools, then drain. Renovate your home to be more energy efficient using healthy materials. Educate yourself about what you care about. One of the things I learned during this process is you don’t have to do everything but you can do something and that will inspire everyone to do something that makes a difference for our environment.
Q – And what about your “green life”?
A - My “green life” is always in thought living in New York City. I have a quote in mind that says, “ Be healthier and live longer.” I walk to work and if I have to go far and pressed for time I will take the metro, bus, or rail. Renovating my home to be more energy efficient using healthy materials. I am into building green, focusing on solar heat and light. I get involved in my society. Learn and grow – bringing your society with you into a better future.
Q – After the last failure of Durban’s conference, can we still…save the planet?
A - Sure we can! But the talks had in many ways failed. In my opinion the reasons for the failure to reaching an understanding in developing a binding agreement, it is important to follow the four great debates that took place in the conference halls of Durban. With the Durban Conference being a far cry from the success expected, the population of the world is entering a period when food supply will be scarcer and there will be mass migrations. Anyone with imagination can see the awful human consequences of that.
There is no doubt also that by putting so much carbon in the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels, we have irreversibly changed the Earth. In my view it is imperative that the government set examples by educating and regulating to protect the environment and the individual. I will make myself very clear that the hierarchy of responsibility begins with Government, moves to companies and the media and finally to the individual. We can do this!
Q – Anything about future projects?
A - Future works will include a football drama entitled “Knights 58,” comedy entitled “If”, as well as documentary “100 Days.” I shadowed my mentor and the famed Hollywood and Canadian Director, Ted Kotcheff. For the past dozen years, Kotcheff has been a bicoastal man, working and living much of the time in New York, where he was executive producer and driving force behind Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Kotcheff served as an executive producer of this popular crime series and after 13 seasons and almost 300 shows ended his long stint running at SVU. Kotcheff is one of the industry’s top film and television directors and producers. His classic dramas include “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” which launched the career of Richard Dreyfus, and “Uncommon Valor,” starring Gene Hackman. His comedies range from cult hit “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “Fun With Dick and Jane” starring Jane Fonda and George Segal, to “Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe” with Jacqueline Bisset, Segal and a host of Europe’s great comedy actors. His direction of “First Blood” initiated and defined the “Rambo” series, and “North Dallas Forty,” which he wrote and directed, is considered one of the greatest sports films of all time. Other notable films include the BAFTA Award winning “Edna, the Inebriate Woman,” Cannes Film Festival classic “Wake in Fright,” “Joshua Then and Now” starring James Woods, and “Winter People” starring Kurt Russell.
I have the honor of directing a documentary about The Legendary Canadian Hollywood Director himself, Ted Kotcheff.
To learn more: www.angellightgroup.com