The rise of eco-friendly filmmaking

The rise of eco-friendly filmmaking

For an industry that hands out Golden Globes as awards, the film and TV business has a troubled history when it comes to caring about the planet.

While no direct studies have been done of the UK industry’s total carbon footprint, in 2009 Film London and the London Mayor’s Office produced a report estimating the carbon output of the London film industry at 125,000 tonnes per year – equivalent to approximately 24,000 London homes.

This figure excludes emissions from international or employee travel and from the distribution, sales and exhibition of films. With international travel, in particular being a major source of carbon emissions we can expect that the figure for the UK industry as a whole would be significantly higher. By comparison a 2006 UCLA study estimated the total carbon emissions of the LA film industry to be as high as 8 million tonnes.


Eliminating wasteful practices on set

The problem is not just the size of the screen industry’s environmental impact. To an extent that’s to be expected from such a resource heavy global industry. The problem is also how much of this impact is unnecessary. From mountains of water bottles to trailers full of photocopiers wasteful practices are widespread.

While some filmmakers chose to counteract this through carbon offsetting, – producer and director Roland Emmerich reportedly took $200,000 out of his own pocket to offset his blockbuster disaster movie The Day after Tomorrow – not every production has that kind of money lying around.


The Day After Tommorow– London if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint

The flipside of these wasteful practices is that it means there is plenty of room to easily improve the film and TV industry’s environmental record without threatening either the budget, or creative vision. Going green doesn’t have to push a production into the red.

“There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit that can save people money to get going with before we tackle the deeper sustainability issues,” says Aaron Matthews who works on sustainable production initiatives for BAFTA and The BBC.

The financial benefits of going green

The really interesting case studies are in the growing body of productions that choose to embed environmental concerns into their working practices right from the very beginning; reducing waste and seeing financial benefits in the process

One feature film saved £18,000 simply by abandoning disposable plastic bottles in favour of water coolers said Anna Ringuet, environmental co-ordinator at Walt Disney.

“Simply using rechargeable batteries can save hundreds and hundreds of pounds over the life of a production,” says Nicholas Leslie, a sustainable production project manager at the BBC. “Low emission vehicles use 30% less fuel than normal petrol driven cars. So they all have a good financial benefit.”

Photo via Brett Weinstein

Need for an industry-wide strategy

In the past few years the industry has begun making strides towards a more sustainable future. The BAFTA supported website <a href="" target="_bla

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