Elsa – A climate calculator that will change the film industry
In September 2022, the film calculator Elsa is being released. Elsa will help film productions get an overview of their carbon footprints and give concrete tips for planning filmmaking in a sustainable way. Elsa is part of PhD candidate Lina Persson’s artistic research project and is created in cooperation between Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH) and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).
“We’re approaching climate collapse and have to prepare ourselves for changing the premises filmmaking is based on,” Lina Persson explains. “In order to keep creativity in the process with limited natural resources and without exploitation, we created Elsa.”
Through the climate calculator Elsa, users can quickly monitor the climate footprint of a film project, and can be used by several professions who want to monitor or present the footprint. The result can be exported as a spreadsheet as a way of confirming and verifying the sustainability ambitions of a production. The result is also presented in relation to political goals and gives the users tools to plan the film production so it stays within the boundaries set by, for example, the Paris agreement. The calculator will be available for students and teachers at SKH, but also for the wider, external film industry. It is free and open source.
“The purpose of Elsa is primarily to creatively, intuitively and quickly create a sense of how different ways of making films have different climate impacts. We wanted to make an easy-to-use, specialised tool that can directly give feedback on how different choices in film production can affect its climate footprint.”
Elsa as artistic research
Artistic research is based on artistic practice and the experience and knowledge it generates. Elsa was developed and realized through Lina Persson’s artistic research project Climate-Just Worldings, in which performative narrative worlds are intertwined with the administrative reality of higher education.
The background of the research project was Lina Persson’s desire to both discover and get concrete feedback on her own climate impact in her artistic process. It led to her developing her own practice on multiple levels. That experience was something she wanted to share with others when she created the tool Elsa. Elsa should be seen as a Fluxus artwork, whose purpose is to give the user a changed perspective on themselves and their environment.
An online version of Elsa (elsa.film) is being co-developed by Lina Persson and Studio Benedetta Crippa to extend the original calculator to an interactive web-based app, open to the general public. In their collaboration, Persson and Crippa have used a design-based approach that prioritises communication and aesthetics, and which also follows the method of artistic research.