Video and film production is an industry that has not traditionally been associated with efficiency and sustainability. Undoubtedly, pulling off a production takes a specialized team of professionals that manage every single detail from the budget for lens rentals down to who is providing the catering. Producers are often forced to deliver nothing short of a miracle with crunched timelines and conservative budgets. These common limitations can force producers and studios to cut costs and corners when needed, which often means eliminating environmentally sustainable practices.
Contrary to popular belief, being environmentally friendly does not have to be expensive. In fact, it could actually be more cost effective in the long run. Some major film studios such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and Walt Disney Pictures, among others, have been finding new ways to sustainably and efficiently produce big budget films. During the making of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” for example, Sony Pictures contracted Earth Angel, a company that provides sustainability consulting services, to oversee the management of energy use and resources during production. By donating nearly 50 tons of materials toward future productions and donating nearly 6,000 meals to local shelters, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” achieved a 52% waste diversion rate, earned a carbon neutral certification, and saved an estimated $400,000.
Focus Feature drama, The Book of Henry directed by Colin Trevorrow, sought to be more environmentally friendly by renting hybrid cars for the crew. They also used cameras that require less energy and incorporated LED lighting into the production plan. Although these changes may seem minor, the overall cost savings and benefit to the environment were incredibly impactful. More and more production companies and studios are making a serious effort towards conservation and sustainability, but you don’t have to have deep pockets to contribute to the cause. Here are a few important tips for a more environmentally friendly film set and production process:
Pollute less. Opt for hybrid or electric cars for transportation for the crew
The Film/TV industry makes a large contribution to conventional air pollution and is responsible for 130,000 metric tons of pollutant emissions within Los Angeles alone.
Conserve resources. Use rechargeable batteries
Fun fact: Noah saved the use of 594 batteries and $645 by using rechargeable batteries.
Reuse plastic. Order reusable water bottles for the crew and set up 5 gallon water coolers on set
Americans throw out 38 billion empty water bottles a year. The average cost of using plastic bottle on set for 60 shooting days in film production is $11,000.
Donate items. Donate materials and wardrobes once you’ve wrapped
If you donate the entirety of a large studio, feature film wardrobe department’s non-hero clothing, the value of that donation would be $250,000.
Use LED light bulbs. Take advantage of energy efficient and highly versatile LED lighting
Companies now turn to different leaders in professional LED lighting, such as Brite Shot. Brite Shot recently saved the Radford staged in California $16,000 in monthly energy costs through LED lighting.
Go paperless. Use tablet, smart phones and laptops to distribute and review documents
Accessibility to tablets is becoming a practical alternative to paper, with companies saving by using tablets and laptops for scripts, documents and more.
Converting to sustainable practices shows a consistent net savings of thousands of dollars. Sustainable efforts in film production continue to make significant strides in the industry, with different success stories emerging from filmmakers. For an in depth look at the benefits and more examples of sustainable practices in video production, take a look at Going Green & Saving Green: A Cost-Benefit Analysis.