Author: Liliana Colombo

I am officially BAFTA albert certified! What does it mean? That I should likely be the person with the most up to date knowledge on how the screen industries must respond to the environmental challenges they face. Practically, I should be able to show production companies “how it’s done” (sounds a bit patronising). Basically, how we can work towards creating sustainability while producing film and TV.

Fig 1: albert GRAD logo

How is the certificate attainable? The BAFTA albert Certification is achieved by completing a Carbon Action Plan. Successful completion of a Carbon Action Plan will allow a production or individual to be given use of the albert logo which can be displayed on the end board (above!).

I was able to obtain my certification after attending a 2-day workshop organised by the Film & Photography department at Kingston University, during which we looked at the most up to date sustainable production techniques in the industry and put them into practice with a 4-task assessment. One of which was the Carbon Action Plan.

I loved every second of the workshop and wished it lasted longer.  They made it quite easy to understand the level of impact by creating four big categories: TRAVEL, ENERGY USE, MATERIALS and DISPOSAL (fig 2) and how these can impact the environment based on the type of production: STUDIO BASED ENTERTAINMENT, LOCATION & STUDIO BASED DRAMA, LOCATION BASED FACTUAL and OB / EVENT. Which type of production do you think is the most damaging? And did you know that TRAVEL is the most impactful?

Fig 2: impact and production categories, source BAFTA albert

I was quite shocked to see the emission intensities of each genre/production method (fig 3).

Fig 3: genre and production method emissions intensities, source BAFTA albert

If you didn’t guess it earlier, you can probably now tell which production method is the most damaging (fig 3).

Fig 4: impact on biodiversity, source BAFTA albert

How a film/TV production impact on biodiversity is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when sitting on the couch watching our favourite Netflix or Amazon Originals, but shall we perhaps consider?

Fig 5: direct impact on biodiversity, source BAFTA albert
Fig 6: indirect impact on biodiversity, source BAFTA albert

Visitors to location is probably the most underrated, but it DOES impact on biodiversity. Any obsessed fans of the Hobbit here?

The workshop was eye opening and while scary to see how the film/tv industry is impacting the environment, I gained a lot of knowledge and I’m now confident to say that I can lead a production in adopting sustainable techniques.

Whether you work in the film industry or not and whether you’re thinking to get the albert certification, I would suggest you start making a personal commitment to climate change by checking your footprint calculator. It only takes 5 minutes to fill in and it will give you a lot of information about your impact on the environment based on your daily tasks, habits and life standards.

Once you get your footprint results, start making a personal commitment by following some of the suggestions below:

Fig 7: make a personal commitment, source BAFTA albert
Fig 8: sixth assessment report, mitigation of climate change
Fig 9: tips for all, source BAFTA albert

I am indeed very excited about this certification. I was never given a middle name, but if I had to start having one now, it would definitely be Albert!

To find out more about BAFTA albert, go to


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It’s been two days since a new year has officially started and reflecting upon the best inspiring moments or things I came across in 2023, before the year gets lost in the far past, I thought I’d share two of my favourites. It’s always hard for me to pick ‘A favourite’ or ‘the bestS’ as I generally like and appreciate A LOT of things, so they way I chose my favourites is based on how obsessed I felt (for about a couple of months).

The Storm Sister (2015) is the second book of a 7 book series The Seven Sisters by Irish novelist Lucinda Riley. The series is about seven sisters, one of which is lost, adopted by a mysterious father who at the start of the series dies (sadly). Following their adoptive father’s dead, the sisters embark in adventurous journeys needing to come to terms with their origins and ancestors and therefore questioning their identities. Each book is dedicated to a sister and it takes you to the farthest place and time you could possibly imagine. While reading the books, I found myself being completely immersed in the story and era sometimes forgetting that I do live in 21st Century’s East London (in a shabby studio flat). My favourite of all these books is The Storm Sister, the second book. It takes you to 19th century’s Norway to meet composer Edvard Grieg at the time of Peter Gynt’s premiere (1897) and it’s based in Bergen. Despite the fact that I ‘hated’ the book for about 150 pages, attempting a few times to stop the read (lucky I persisted), I wanted to move to Bergen when I finished reading it and I loved it so much so that on the same day I decided I was going to move to Bergen, I almost missed my flight to Italy. I was so wrapped up in the story that I forgot my passport at home! Luckily I didn’t miss the flight for a few minutes and not sure if luckily or not, but I still live in East London (in the shabby flat). I’m not giving too much away about the book, but if you want to get lost as much as I did and live the risk of getting close to missing a flight, please read this book!

Book cover, The Storm Sister (2015)

Second favourite is my trip to Brazil I took in May 2023. I went to São Paulo to film my new documentary. I went on my own with a tiny video camera and a tiny suitcase. I didn’t know anyone and by the end of the trip (10 days) I made approximately 7 friends with whom I was WhatsApping every day as if I were in London with my mates. Fortunate me, Portuguese is very similar to Italian and with some help from Mr. Google Translator, I was as fluent as one can be after two classes in Portuguese (basic level). The language wasn’t a barrier however and didn’t stop these lovely Brazilian people from helping me along the way in my journey and to whom I’ll be forever grateful for showing me their beautiful country and helping me shooting wonderful footage (that I’m now editing). On my last day in Brazil I decided I was going to move to São Paulo (as above, just different country) and I did cry a little. I still live in East London shabby flat, but as pretentious as it may sound ten days in Brazil changed my perspective of the world I live in. You’ll have to wait for my film to come out to know how my perspective changed, but if you haven’t been, please hurry!

Low quality photo took in São Paulo at SESC Culture Center with the ‘water people’. Right to left: Martha, Douglas, Victor, Flavia, myself, and three more lovely water people of whom I don’t remember the names.
Low quality photo took in São Paulo at Represa Guarapiranga. Right to left: Martha, Ana Carolina, Renata, Rafaela and captain of the boat.

Black and White > Tennis and Filmmaking

I’m a huge fan of tennis. Which is weird considering the fact that I don’t play this sport much. Somehow I get inspired by watching the game and by the discipline that the players need to have, not only on the court, but off the court. The juxtaposition of the needs for physical abilities and great control of mind is what makes tennis one of the most difficult sport to play and one of the most attractive to me. The players are on their own, having to endure the match physically, and to keep their mind focused, constantly – ALWAYS KEEP THE FOCUS and BE PRESENT at each point. This is what one of the greatest of the sport Novak Djokovic, 24 time grand slam champion, says in his interview when he’s asked “how does he do it”.

For some weird reasons I do find tennis and tennis players inspiring to my filmmaking practice. Is it the discipline, the focus, the hard work, the healthy life-style (presumably), the travelling, making the right choices and taking chances that I easily transfer to my life as a filmmaker? I’m sure tennis is very much transferrable to many other disciplines, not just filmmaking, but for some reasons, every time I watch a tournament, the more and more I see tennis players the more I associate them to artists, storytellers. Am I mad?

The other week, I finally was able to read Black and White (Williams w/Davis, 2014). You don’t need to know tennis or to follow tennis to know who Richard Williams is. And if you don’t know, he is the father of Serena and Venus Williams, the famous sisters. A film has been made about them, King Richard (2021) for which Will Smith with his infamous punch to Chris Rock during the Oscar night, won the Oscar for best actor in a leading role. The film was very much inspired by the book, in fact I wished they made a TV series about King Richard, for his complex and fascinating life deserves much longer time to be told than two hours and twenty five minutes. Two documentaries have also been made, one prior to the making of the film and the writing of his book, Venus and Serena (2012) and one just recently, On the Line: The Richard Williams Story (2022). I read the book after I watched all documentaries and the fiction film and I must say that, as often happens, the book is much a grander experience. The man is a genius? The man is absolutely out of this world. Just to mention the, now famous, memoire that he wrote before Serena and Venus were born, about them being the greatest tennis players in the world. A visionary, it’s the appropriate word.

I read the book in three days. It certainly is a page turner. Please read it.

Black and White (Williams w/Davis, 2014)

He had a vision and went for it, despite the naysayers and the difficulties he and his families went through. He didn’t change the way he thought or did things. He believed in his ways and most importantly believed in himself.

I did cry while reading the last chapter, when he was thanking profoundly his ex-wife Oracene Price.

Wishing upon the stars with the Mo-Sys Star Tracker

To say that I was exhilarated after a training day on the Mo-Sys Star Tracker is an understatement. The technicalities involved are, no shadow of a doubt, complex, and that need a lot of practice, but what a system! Essentially, this machinery is made of stars, a tracker and Unreal Engine, with the purpose of embedding the post-production process at production stages.

Magic happens when a small LED sensor, mounted on a studio camera, shines light on the stars. This defines the star map, which allows the StarTracker to report the position and orientation of the studio camera in real time to the rendering engine (Unreal) in which we can load as many virtual worlds as we want.

Fig 1. LED red light visible on the tracker, Kingston School of Art 2023
Fig 2. Mo-Sys Star Tracker Virtual Studio at Kingston School of Art, 2023

As new to the film industry as it can be, it is no surprise to know that the star tracker system is no novelty to science. In fact, the first star tracker was developed in the 50s for celestial navigation, a technique that has been used for thousand of years and which, in its simplest form, uses angular measurements between the horizon and a celestial object to accurately determine the stars and other celestial bodies’ actual current physical position in space or on the surface of the Earth.

Fig 3. Sextant. An early instrument for celestial navigation. Picture originally taken by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

An instrument used for this kind of measurement is often referred to as a sextant (fig. 3).

The advancement of technology in science has made more precise and automated techniques available for celestial navigation since the sextant, when finally a camera replaces the human observer and automated software search through digital star catalogues trying to find a matching field of view. All of this can be done in a fraction of a second. Furthermore, the data from a star tracker act also as an attitude control system, capable of storing a multitude of censors and feedback inputs for keeping spacecrafts’ orientation, and since satellites are frequently used for various research projects, the data from a star tracker are essential (Lindh, 2).

Fig 4. The STARS real-time star tracking software

Enchanted by the history of this astro-technique, and how science and art keep inspiring and challenging each others, I cannot help but wonder how this is going to affect the film industry and in particular post-production, which will probably experience an under-demand of labour. Conscious of the fact that this topic would probably need a post of its own, I hope this machine will make the film making experience as close to a space mission as possible!

Black History Month: Micheaux’ Within Our Gates

Black History Month is coming to an end and I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s post to Oscar Micheaux’ race film Within Our Gates (1919) – the earliest surviving feature film directed by an African American director.

Image from Within Our Gates (Micheaux, 1919)

I haven’t watched them all, but amongst some of Micheaux’ surviving films, Within Our Gate (1919) stood out without a doubt. It is known that the film was a response to D.W. Griffith’s racist epic, The Birth of a Nation (1915) which used white actors in blackface to portray biracial men as greedy beasts, and applauded the suppression of black voters.

Actors in blackface in The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Within Our Gates, truthfully, isn’t an easy film to get through, for it graphically portrays brutal racist acts such as the lynching of innocent black families –  but it is one that MUST be watched.
Upon reading the opening titles, I discovered that the film was preserved by The Library Of Congress’ of Motion Pictures in 1993 from a surviving print found in Spain retitled La Negra. The film’s intertitles’ Odyssey probably deserves a post of its own, for the English text belonging to the lost original print had to be re-translated in English when La Negra was found, which obviously had (and still has) Spanish intertitles. Rewind: the original English intertitles were initially translated in Spanish. When the English print was lost and the Spanish print was found, the Spanish intertitles were translated back in English.

Micheaux’ work was part of the race films genre, consisting of films produced in the United States between 1915 and 1950, for black audiences, and featuring black casts.
In these years, Micheaux produced many remarkable dramas, most of which have been lost: The Homesteader (1919), his first film, an adaption of his own novel published in 1917; Birthright (1924); A Daughter of The Congo (1930), and many more which disappointedly we won’t ever have the chance to see. Approximately five hundred race films were produced in the first half of the twentieth century and only fewer than one hundred of these survived. This was due to the fact that race films were produced outside the Hollywood studio system and therefore largely forgotten by mainstream and film historians.

Within Our Gates and its dark intricacies of the black experience luckily is available on YouTube.

The Homesteader photo-play poster

Micheaux was a prominent figure of the silent period, he remained in the industry longer than any other black director, producing forty-four films in which he openly challenges the racial injustices that African Americans faced at the beginning of the twentieth century, addressing sensitive issues that other filmmakers avoided at the time.

Although very sadly we will never be able to see some of the remarkable work produced by Oscar Micheaux and his fellow filmmakers, we should cherish and celebrate what has remained. Race films have been a blueprint for many emerging African American voices, that have changed the world and without whom our society would have failed. And although we’re still far behind, these voices are slowly but surely and beautifully reshaping our world.



  • The Homesteader (1919) – lost
  • Within Our Gates (1920) – survived
  • The Brute (1920) – lost
  • The Symbol of the Unconquered (1920) – survived
  • The Gunsaulus Mystery (1921) – lost
  • The Dungeon (1922) – lost
  • The Hypocrite (1922) – lost
  • Uncle Jasper’s Will (1922) – lost
  • The Virgin of the Seminole (1922) – lost
  • Deceit (1923) – lost
  • Birthright (1924) – lost
  • A Son of Satan (1924) – lost
  • Body and Soul (1925) – survived
  • Marcus Garland (1925) – lost
  • The Conjure Woman (1926), adapted from novel by Charles W. Chesnutt – lost
  • The Devil’s Disciple (1926) – lost
  • The Spider’s Web (1926) – survived
  • The Millionaire (1927) – survived
  • The Broken Violin (1928) – survived
  • The House Behind the Cedars (1927), adapted from novel by Charles W. Chesnutt – lost
  • Thirty Years Later (1928)  – lost
  • When Men Betray (1929) – lost
  • The Wages of Sin (1929) – lost
  • Easy Street (1930) – lost
  • A Daughter of the Congo (1930) – lost
  • Darktown Revue (1931) – survived
  • The Exile (1931) – lost
  • Veiled Aristocrats (1932) – lost
  • Ten Minutes to Live (1932) – survived
  • Black Magic (1932) – survived
  • The Girl from Chicago (1932) – survived
  • Phantom of Kenwood (1933) – survived
  • Harlem After Midnight (1934) – lost
  • Murder in Harlem (1935) – survived
  • Temptation (1936) – survived
  • Underworld (1937) – survived
  • God’s Step Children (1938) – survived
  • Swing! (1938) – survived
  • Lying Lips (1939) – survived
  • Birthright (1939) – survived
  • The Notorious Elinor Lee (1940) – survived
  • The Betrayal (1948) – lost

The discovery of Joanna Quinn

I do watch animation on a weekly basis. I find it inspiring and when I watch it, I always try to find ways in which to translate the language pertaining to this medium onto documentary filmmaking, for the latter is one of my forms of practice. Whilst I was going through my infinite animation library, which it will probably take me two life times to finish, I found a GEM! Girls Night Out (1987) by Joanna Quinn. I’m still laughing! It’s probably the funniest short animation I’ve ever watched. It’s quirky, witty and just brilliant.

Image from Girl’s Night Out (Quinn, 1987)

When I watch animation I tend to ask myself, why would one decide to make an animated film about a specific story or character rather than shooting a live action film? The magic that animation can create is certainly not achievable with live action footage (debatable with how technology is developing these days), and the love for drawing (or digital drawing) is quite a compelling factor for animators, but the most justified answer that comes to mind which for many might be obvious, is that there wouldn’t be any other way to express a story or a character if not through the infinite tools and ways in which animation can drive one’s imagination. When I started watching Quinn’s short film, I thought: ‘well why didn’t she portray these women and this story with a live action film?’. It wasn’t until I got to 5:05 minutes in the film (which is basically the end) that I understood why. This film is now in my top 3, no doubt.

The film is available on YouTube. I strongly encourage you to give it a go. You won’t regret it!

Joanna Quinn is an independent director and animator based in London. She studied graphic design at Middlesex University after completing a foundation course in art at Goldsmith University. Her films have screened at hundreds of international film festivals around the world and got her hundreds of international awards, two Emmy awards, four BAFTA awards and two Oscar nominations.


  • Girls Night Out (1987)
  • Body Beautiful (1990)
  • Elles (1992)
  • Britannia (1993)
  • Famous Fred (1996)
  • The Wife of Bath – The Canterbury Tales (1998)
  • Dreams and Desires – Family Ties (2006)
  • Affairs of the Art (2021)