Creative producer and co-founder of Duna Films, Théo Grainzevelles, uses video to encourage climate action. He plays a key role at COP27 and broadcasts the negotiations around the world.
Théo Grainzevelles (Geographie 2015) knows it’s the right thing to do. “We are facing a climate emergency,” he says. “If people don’t understand that, then there is no more planet. That’s why I make these films.”
In a digital age, Théo recognizes the power of film. As co-founder of Duna Films, an impact-driven film company focused on global environmental and social issues, he is able to inspire change in audiences around the world.
He speaks to us from COP27, where Théo and his team are based in the Innovation Zone – a hub for the exchange of ideas in the public and private sectors – producing films, content and shows that are streamed live around the world.
They film and interview key political stakeholders at the conference, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Hoesung Lee.
Duna Films produces content that will have a positive impact – such as B. A recent clean air campaign with World Athletics
Théo points to the conference behind him. “There are so many individuals and companies here trying to drive climate change. And that gives me hope.”
His own desire to avert the climate crisis distinguished him in the film industry. Uninspired by the day-to-day projects of his role as a communications professional, a campaign in Portugal caught his imagination. “It was a restoration project called The Dune Project. We were out there creating something that would make a difference – and it did for me.
“It was the reach of seeing the impact the film can have. That got me hooked.”
Théo founded Duna Films together with Matilda Thompson (Film and Photography 2014), a colleague from Leeds, where they combined their film background with Théo’s environmental expertise. “My understanding and appreciation of the scale of the climate crisis was developed in Leeds. It gave me the foundation and passion for it, and that expertise is key when it comes to directing and producing a narrative on technical issues – such as carbon credits.”
In the beginning, Théo and Matilda’s niche focus presented a challenge. For a start-up film company in a highly competitive environment, the desire to work with the ‘right’ clients – rather than aiming for profit – was never easy: “It was a learning curve . We needed to generate revenue, but we also wanted to work on projects that fit our ethos.”
Despite the added barrier, Théo is unwavering when it comes to this ethos – it’s all about positive impact. “If it doesn’t work socially or ecologically, we don’t work with a customer. The positive effect always comes first.”
And the team also follows these principles when filming. They reduce emissions by employing local videographers and businesses wherever possible, eliminating the need for travel. They aim to use electric vehicles in production and do not use diesel generators.
The results produced are often used to raise awareness, and recent projects include films about children with cancer, a clean air campaign with World Athletics, and a project focused on using the ocean as a tool to support mental health – with double that Benefit from emphasizing the need to protect our seas.
Perhaps her most far-reaching work to date has been the introductory film for Glasgow Breakthroughs, a film that opened the COP26 conference for delegates and set the framework for the event. Developed for world leaders, the film was an opportunity to inspire action in the highest positions of power.
The film Glasgow Breakthroughs opened the COP26 conference and provided an opportunity to inspire world leaders
At COP27, Théo and the Duna team will once again play a role and Théo has no illusions about the challenges ahead: “I don’t think the representation is right here anymore. Coming to the COP is expensive, so indigenous communities and African nations – those on the front lines of fighting the climate crisis – cannot afford it. That’s a problem. We need everyone here and together to help nature keep 1.5 degrees warming within reach.”
But despite the problems, there is reason for hope. “I’ve seen all the work people are doing here and all the organizations doing the right things.
“Our films play their part in this. We highlight the amazing things people are doing to fight it. It’s inspiring to see and we’re showing that others can too.
“The general public will not always read the dense scientific documentation. But they do respond to movies — through social media, an event, an ad. We can inspire change and that motivates me.”
Learn more about Duna Films
Find out more about the university’s role in COP27.
For further details please contact Ed Newbould, Digital Communications Officer, University of Leeds at email@example.com.