Hollywood may not come to mind first when considering climate impacts, but feature films require enormous amounts of building materials, energy and travel. To address this, the Green Production Guide helps movie studios find sustainable solutions. Everything from catering to set design can help production companies reduce their environmental impact.
What climate difference does a movie make?
Movie production can be made more eco-friendly. In fact, sustainable film production not only helps the environment but is also good for the studio’s bottom line.
According to Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” saved $400,000 by focusing on sustainability. The wardrobe department started a recycling program and sourced textiles from farmer’s markets. Over 49 tons of materials were recovered from the movie’s sets for donation or reuse. Catering donated 5,862 extra meals to local shelters. The set also used biodegradable snow and water-based smoke. Reducing plastic water bottle usage and opting for eco-friendly detergents also boosted production’s sustainable goals. Overall, these measures resulted in a total of 52% waste diversion from landfills, making “Spider-Man 2” the most sustainably produced and financially successful film in Sony’s history.
Other studios are now considering ways to make their productions more sustainable, but it can be challenging to set up a system that catches all possible areas of improvement and tracks the results. That’s where the Green Production Guide can help.
How the Green Production Guide helps make movies sustainable
The Green Production Guide Toolkit is divided into sections for ease of use. They include a sustainable practices checklist, carbon footprint calculator, and worksheets to reduce plywood, food and material usage or track donations of overages. Also included are infographics, further resources and awards programs that recognize sustainability in film.
The Sustainable Practices Checklist: The PEACH (Production Environmental Actions Checklist) & PEACH+ (with added measures) include practices that each department can implement throughout production. Go through the document with each department during planning, then again at wrap to track achievements. The PEACH also serves as an application for an Environmental Media Association Green Seal (just save and send to EMA to apply).
The Carbon Footprint Calculator: The PEAR (Production Environmental Accounting Report) is a tool to measure the environmental impact of your production based on the energy used in offices and on stages, the fuel used in vehicles and generators, and the emissions from air travel and accommodations. The PEAR can also report on waste, donations and other environmentally-impactful purchases like water bottles, plywood and paper.
The Plywood Tracking Worksheet: The PLUM (Production Lumber Material) worksheet tracks your plywood usage, primarily focusing on Lauan/Meranti to ensure sustainable sourcing. You can track how much plywood production uses and where it comes from.
Food and Materials Donations: Often, reducing waste can also mean giving back to the local community. Explore the guide’s resources for donating excess food or set materials. Impact can be tracked by reducing waste and also by how much positive impact your production has on the community.
Green is the new normal
Onset, sustainable practices can become the new norm. Craft services can reduce and recycle single-use plastic containers used to feed and hydrate the cast and crew. Sustainable and reduced travel can lower production’s carbon footprint, with green screens and post-production technology filling the gap to diversify filming locations.
While most costumes, sets and temporary quarters are discarded or used only for short periods on movie sets, production companies explore sustainable practices to support climate action and help their bottom line. Donations, reusing costumes, recycling, green travel practices, technology and even reducing studios’ post-production energy can help movies become more profitable and sustainable.
If you’re looking for ways to make your set more sustainable, check out the Green Production Guide. The “Getting Started” presentation includes tools to create a timeline for tracking sustainability practices through production and offers calculators for everything from water and fuel usage to lumber and commercial air miles. The goal is to help production companies track and reduce the usage of precious resources while budgeting for less expensive productions. Even if you start with small changes, these resources can make a difference and reduce wasted production expenses. With time, these standards could become the new normal for Hollywood studios.
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