We explore the film industry's most pressing environmental issues and the potential solutions to combat them.
This post was written by Tom Melhuish.
At times the film industry can slip behind when it comes to protecting the environment. However, it can’t be ignored any longer. A huge focus in today’s society is to become environmentally friendly and achieve carbon neutrality.
People, cities, and countries everywhere are implementing policies and acting now to combat the damage.
We hope that after reading this article, you'll act to reduce environmental damage and support sustainable practices.
What's the biggest sustainability issue in the film industry?
It’s diesel generators.
Diesel generators are used in film production to generate energy for large and small-scale productions. These are used when filming on location powering hair and make-up, catering, lighting, props vans, costume vans, and all other facilities.
The cost of providing this power is 20 gallons of diesel every 12 hours to power the average film set.
Diesel is not sustainable and is terrible for the environment, producing 12kgs of carbon dioxide per gallon. This adds up. They also pollute the surrounding environment by producing carcinogenic particulates.
Fun fact: Diesel generators also cause noise pollution. A single diesel generator emits a noise level of 73 decibels. It’s pretty much like standing next to a blender all day.
But what’s the solution?
Use electric generators!
To combat emissions generated by diesel generators, you should invest in electric generators to power your film set when on location. Electric generators are high-capacity batteries that reduce the local pollution produced by a set to zero.
Diesel generators pollute the land and atmosphere surrounding them and are not pleasant for staff members. Electric generators do not pollute the surrounding land and are better for the film crew standing in and around the production.
You can create a sustainable setup by charging the electric generators with self-generated solar energy.
Old-fashioned diesel generators cause a lot of noise pollution, making it difficult to shoot intimate scenes with little to no background noise—electric generators are the solution.
As well as reducing emissions, it also offers extra benefits:
- Easier to move around.
- Save on post-production costs.
- No poisonous fumes and a safe working environment for the crew.
- Compact and easy to set up.
- They’re almost silent, allowing for silence on set.
Another solution in Europe is being rolled out
The Grid Project. The Grid Project is a sustainable energy project looking to supply renewable energy through the mains network directly to the eight key filming locations in London.
The project's aim is to eliminate the need for diesel-powered generators to create an environmentally friendly way of shooting on location and change the way the industry currently works.
There are financial benefits to the Grid Project as film production will save on soaring diesel costs but will be able to measure electricity usage using energy monitors.
The project is relatively new, so initially, it’s being rolled out to different film locations in London.
Film London is the project leader; however, there are a variety of agencies and establishments that support it. These are:
- London Boroughs
- Royal Parks
- the GLA
- The Production Guild
- The Mayor’s Office
How to become a more sustainable film production company
Here are some ideas on how to make your next film set more environmentally friendly.
Use sustainable cutlery and plates
Over and over again on film sets, you see disposable plates and cutlery strewn across the place, ready to be thrown away and taken to the nearest landfill to be buried deep, deep into the ground. It’s not bio-degradable or recyclable.
On the film set, even if it’s on location—as a film production company, you should look to use reusable plates, cups, and cutlery to save on the amount of waste produced. If you can’t carry reusable cutlery and plates, it’s worth looking at recyclable items to reduce landfill waste.
Use digital scripts and call sheets, and for script changes—e-mail them. Most companies use collaborative software like Celtx or Final Draft, which allows multiple users to collaborate on a project with ease.
Remove bottled water from the film set
By removing bottled water, you eliminate a lot of plastic waste. Introduce filling stations where people can refill their reusable bottles with tap water.
Utilize multi-function trailers
Multi-function trailers immediately reduce your impact on the environment. Instead of having separate trailers for costume and hair and make-up, have a multi-function trailer.
This reduces the impact by having multiple trailers reliant on the diesel generators and the trucks needed to transport each trailer to and from the shoot. This lowers both emissions and costs.
Immerse yourself in the world of solar power
Solar power is an excellent form of energy. Why? Well, for one, it’s a renewable energy source, reducing your film production’s impact on the environment. And two, it will allow you to save money on your energy costs.
Installing solar energy is affordable and cost-effective, and the panels have a 25- to 30-year lifetime.
Compare green energy suppliers
Compare green energy suppliers. You will be able to compare the latest energy prices and see how much you can save on your current usage.
*Unfortunately, we only work in the UK currently…
What are the benefits of adopting renewable energy?
Here are a few key points on why your next film production should consider renewable energy to power the set.
- The actual cost to maintain renewable technology is far lower than gas-fired power stations.
- Renewable energy never runs out!
- Using renewable energy, you help combat the volatility of the energy market. You will not be reliant on importing non-renewable resources.
- It’s great for the environment. You significantly reduce the carbon emissions pumped out into the atmosphere.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.