Sustainability in film and TV production

Here’s an outline of some of the resources that were showcased today in an international conference – Boosting sustainable film through international collaboration – organised by the European Audiovisual Observatory and the British Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the Observatory’s UK Presidency in 2021 against the backdrop of the European Commission’s European Green Deal.

The aim of the conference was to promote meaningful international collaboration by identifying problems that can be addressed through international co-operation, and by discussing concrete ideas about the form such cooperation could take. The programme for the afternoon event is here.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have a review of how their members are ‘taking a lead’ on climate actions. Their Green Production initiative pages can be seen here.

Netflix believes that 50% of their carbon footprint comes from Production according to Gilles Fontaine, Head of Department for Market Information at the observatory.

Sony Pictures Entertainment seem to have a comprehensive set of policies on green production that were mentioned by John Rego, their Vice President, Sustainability, Medical & EHS – it was his view that a lot of studios aren’t particularly good at letting people know about the work they do on this front.

Pippa Harris of Neal Street Productions (producers of the ‘Albert’ certificated 2017 – see below for more on Albert) said that UK studios should have electric charging points for vehicles and should have processes in place to recover and recycle sets. 

At a very practical level, there actually is a Belgian initiative – Magazzino – aim to recover and recycle all the decor elements in the cinema, theatre and event industries. They have a Facebook page here.

There are also a group of academics from the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham, Glasgow, Utrecht (plus others) putting together an academic/industry network for research on European green media production. They’d welcome interested participants to get in touch with them via email: Leora.Hadas@nottingham.ac.uk or P.Kaapa@warwick.ac.uk

Some UK initiatives:

1) BFI (UK)
A Screen New Deal, supported by the BFI, Bafta, Albert, and Arup, is there to share innovation and knowledge. As film and television production restarts following a worldwide shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to look at introducing new ways of working on set and on location, consider our approach to materials and resources and learn how innovation is working for other industries.

The Screen New Deal [pdf] report sets out a route map for positive action to achieve sustainable practices that support wellbeing, environmental restoration and economic prosperity.

The BFI also have an evidence review – ‘Green matters — Environmental sustainability and film production: an overview of current practice’ [pdf] which provided a snapshot of UK film production activity and the kinds of levers that could help change behaviour in production.

The BFI have a Sustainability Policy [pdf] and a full outline of the BFI’s work on sustainability can be seen here.

2) BAFTA Albert
Bafta Albert are the authority on environmental sustainability for film + TV. Their aim is to share, learn and act on the impact of productions on the environment. They provide tools and calculators, they provide training to production teams, and they have awards and end-logos that can be earned and used in credits. The high-budget feature 1917 was the first film to achieve this award.

Albert is funded by the industry, allowing them to make their tools, training, and resources free to use. Their resources include a Production Handbook and a list of sustainable suppliers.

You can see the whole conference for yourself – here.

Or if you just want to dip in to specific parts of the day, here they are in running order…

Anyone wanting to go to future European Audiovisual Observatory events should email them at obs.event@coe.int

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