Carbon footprint of film productions
Carbon footprint of film productions. Source: Composition with Jon Flobrant photo

Best sustainable practices for film productions

Covid-19 is changing our world in a very unexpected direction and revealing the fragility of our current lifestyle, that is why we must not forget, not now and ever, about the most dramatic crisis: climate change.

The film industry as a creative business can make an important contribution, showing society the new sustainable lifestyle. Films can be quite powerful changing people’s understanding and attitudes, but now the entertainment industry has gone one step further minimising its own emissions, re-thinking production processes.

The time is now! Manifestos are written, initiatives launched and actions taken in the film industry, and you can become a part of it! We know, it is not an easy one, so we would like to make our small contribution by sharing with you some useful templates of sustainability memos and checklists (English and Spanish version).

Don’t know what to start with? Keep reading and find the templates at the end of the article.

There are certain areas that can be particularly important. It’s kind of obvious but let’s have a look.

Growing awareness:

Talk to your crew about the importance of sustainability measures. Environmental sensitivity is cool and it’s meaningful. Chats and meetings are necessary to get your team deeply involved in the implementation of ecologically responsible best practices.

#naturenow - passionate call by Greta Thunberg and Guardian journalist George Monbiot. Tom Mustill (Director) and Andrea Walji (producer) made this film with the tiniest environmental impact possible and zero net carbon footprint. @tommustill,

Waste reduction and recycling:

Some time ago disposable meant comfortable and modern, now it’s more a synonym of superfluous and lazy. Bearing in mind that we are flooded with plastic, it’s actually quite obvious that we come up with a strategic plan to avoid the use of plastic. Additionally, reusable dinnerware policy can actually lower your catering costs. Strict recycling system is a must on every set and at every production office.

Improving catering standards:

There’s no other issue film-makers are as passionate about more than the food served on set. We know, quality, organic food is more expensive, but on the other hand, there’s less food waste. So we should make this effort and also convince the catering suppliers to buy as much food as possible locally and from organic farmers. Your team will probably love vegan meals and agree for completely vegetarian days if you offer good quality dishes. Coffee to-go is part of a modern lifestyle but I think that now it’s time to let it go. Or we can search for alternatives, like using only reusable coffee cups, so why don’t we use our own portable mugs.

Going paperless:

If you think it well, you don’t actually need too much paper to make a film. You may use all kinds of software to go quite paperless in information sharing and legal compliance processes. Try setkeeper, scenechronize or other apps for digital distribution. Use willco for hiring and on-boarding processes, calendar sharing and legally binding digital signature of your production paperwork. These tools can dramatically reduce the use of paper in your office.

Managing digital data:

We are going paperless and saving trees, but… the digital data transfer is not carbon neutral because of the servers involved and the personal devices needed to read the documents. The increasing amounts of data stored on cloud servers are leading to a rising demand of energy in data centres. This means that we have to manage our files wisely and share information instead of duplicating it, again, willco or other apps can help you to manage your digital file wisely.

Set lighting:

Led lights had a bad reputation for years because they didn’t hold an accurate colour temperature, but the LED lighting available now has actually a very high colour rendering index (CRI). Additionally, the lamps are light and inexpensive. The Lighstar LUXED-9 is a good recommendation, another option is ARRI Skypanel s360-C or DMG Lumière kits. The diesel generators are starting to get competition from alternative gensets. Using electricity from the local grid, liquid gas, hydrogen and hybrid accumulators is going to reduce not only the emissions but also the noise and the niff on set.

Moving around:

Ideally, electric and hybrid cars, car sharing and public transport should be the only valid options. Heavy transport is still a challenge, but we’ll get there. At some point we’ll have to try to convince our superstars not to fly private jets so often. Trains instead of flights and video-calls instead of travel, there are so many ways to reduce our carbon footprint in transportation.

The future belongs to green productions, we just have to find a way to combine glamorous with sustainable. We should practice sustainability on our productions, so we can tell stories for generations to come.

We would like to share with you some production documents that will help you to implement the environmental best practices in your projects. Feel free to download them, use them, transform and share with us your thoughts.

Green memo - English version

Green memo - Spanish version

Green checklist (en/es)