Powering a Film Set can be Silent, Clean, and Portably Electric

May 4, 2017

“The film industry in Vancouver has long been conscious of sustainable production,” says Zena Harris, President at Green Spark Group, a sustainability consultancy that serves the film industry. “Efforts in this space formalized in 2006 with the formation of Reel Green and have evolved to include vendors such as Keep it Green Recycling and success stories on set like an 81% waste diversion rate from landfill on The X-Files (2015 reboot). We’ve got the infrastructure for recycling and we can continue to improve on that and consistently incorporate it; however, now what we need to focus on is reducing our greenhouse gas emissions during production, and a big contributor to those emissions are diesel generators.”

As green and creative industries merge to create solutions for more sustainable film production, an innovative company paves the way for cleaner power to fuel film sets.

source: Mark Halliday & Portable Electric

Portable Electric is a Vancouver company that rents and sells silent, pollution-free power stations to anyone who needs electricity.

“Film production is a complex business.  Managing not only the story and scripts, but also the environment can be challenging on the best of days,” says Mark Rabin, Founder and CEO of Portable Electric. “Power on set is a necessity, however, the added noise and pollution from traditional diesel generators do not need to be headaches that require additional time and resources to manage.  We’ve made an alternative that helps the production avoid those headaches and reduce emissions, and contributes to a sustainable production – a win-win-win!”

Portable Electric has created VOLTstackTM Power Stations, which produce zero emissions, are silent, can be recharged for mere pennies, and require minimal maintenance. When compared with a traditional diesel generator, the VOLTStackTM is a healthier, safer, quieter, cleaner, and more convenient power source. It comes fully charged, is maintenance-free, and costs about the same to rent when you include fuel. While Portable Electric’s business currently focuses on powering events, they are breaking into the film industry and making waves.

Portable Electric displaced more than 13 fossil fuel generators for 3 film productions in the month of February 2017, sponsoring the Crazy8s Film Fest and providing power for a local independent film. This amounts to over 800 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions avoided. That’s equivalent to driving a gas-powered car for 1,874 km! (www.epa.gov).


The Crazy8s Filmmaking Challenge is run by the Crazy8s Film Society and has been running since 1999 and is an integral event in Vancouver’s film community!


  • “Aspiring filmmakers are invited to present their short film idea in a 5-minute video. Every year over one hundred teams apply.
  • 40 semi-finalists are chosen to pitch in person to a jury of industry professionals.
  • 12 finalists workshop their script with a professional story editor.
  • 6 winners receive $1,000 and a production package provided by sponsors in the local production community with everything they need to make their short film in just 8 days.
  • Finished films are screened at a gala event to the who’s who of the Vancouver film industry.
  • It’s fast! It’s fun! It’s Crazy!” (Crazy8s Website)

THE PRINCE: Crazy8s Short Film


source: Mark Halliday

Two VOLTstackTM 2k units were used during the filming of The Prince for the Crazy8s Film Festival, where the producers made a conscious decision to use as many “green options” as possible. Not only was using Portable Electric the greener option, the decision to do so simply made better business sense. The power stations made filming easier without combatting the typical noise created by diesel generators, and also helped to maintain good relations between the public in the surrounding neighbourhoods and the film crew.


NO RESERVATIONS: Crazy8s Short Film


source: Portable Electric

One VOLTstackTM 13K (trailer) unit was used during the three day filming of No Reservations, also for the Crazy8s Film Festival. Using Portable Electric was an ideal solution for this independent short film because it simplified the powering process, eliminating the burden of cables, safety mats, and extra crew to manage the power. For projects such as this, the ability to run silent, electric power enables the crew to work within a smaller area without being bothered by the noise of a typical diesel generator. This also opens up opportunities to use spaces that are not suitable for running cable in from outside.


With our new Film Commissioner, David Shepheard, in town, he brings some radical ideas with him. While others believe that Vancouver has the opportunity to become “the greenest city to film in the world”, he believes that sustainable film production should be the only way to film here in Vancouver one day.

The importance of these small independent films to run smoothly and without unnecessary obstructions that can be solved by something as simple as silent, electric power, is paramount for emerging filmmakers to continue making films and make a name for themselves in the competitive film industry. The Crazy8s Film Festival is particularly instrumental in supporting the local Vancouver film community by providing funding and support to emerging filmmakers who have little or no access to funding to bring their visions to fruition.

“Seeing production teams use sustainable equipment and facilities such as the Portable Electric [power stations], demonstrates the different ways we can change the organization of our film sets.

Crazy8s is especially important because it allows emerging filmmakers to access funds and support in order to create short films that may launch their careers. As well, there is a thrill in seeing new and upcoming filmmakers use more sustainable practices from the start of their careers in films such as those created for Crazy8s. There is a higher likelihood that they will continue to search for more sustainable filming methods that are good for the industry and for a city such as Vancouver as they move forward.” – David Shepheard

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