Movie production is big business and can cost upwards of several hundred million dollars to produce a single movie. During that time, there are hundreds of people who contribute to the manufacturing of the movie and who also use up many tons of resources. Is it possible and viable to achieve an eco-friendly film production? The answer to that is “yes” and it’s actually not that difficult to achieve.

During the 1980’s, the first evidence of environmentalism in the film industry occurred when the Environmental Media Association (EMA) and Earth Communications Office (ECO) were founded in Hollywood. From then, it has been a very slow process of getting film production companies on board to take the initiative to be carbon neutral and waste neutral. The most important change is bringing about a massive shift in mindset. If your film production company decides to become eco-friendly, after a few productions, your crew will get it and it will only take a reminder at the start of the job to get them back into the green mindset. Eventually, small and simple changes will begin to make a big difference, like using eco-friendly cleaning products, banning smoking on location and choosing to film in environments that benefit crew, cast and clients. You can even ask your hair and makeup staff to avoid using aerosols. All of these small things add up and do not cost a great deal to achieve. It’s also a good idea to advise crewing agents that any crew being hired need to be committed to the green philosophy and efforts to make a difference through film production practices. Any green principles should be set out in the crew terms and conditions whenever contracting for a film production.


Eco-friendly film production – What specific areas can be targeted for green improvement?

There are a number of areas that can be targeted to improve the environmental impact of a film production which include:

Props and Set-Design: This is definitely one of the departments that requires the most attention. Use toxic-free paint and renewable materials as much as possible and check with your supplier for materials that can be re-used or recycled. Don’t throw away props and set constructions after the production; re-use them in-house or donate them to local schools and theatres. Update set lighting and generators to more efficient technology.

Food and Set-Operations: Use reusable or biodegradable food service items such as plates and cups and try to use locally grown, organic food. Any leftover food can be donated to food banks or charity organizations and crew management should ensure that there are recycling bins available throughout the location.

Transportation: The world has been praising the hybrid car for quite a while now but in reality, less car use is what’s needed. Car-pooling and only bringing the necessary equipment on location is not only better for the environment, it also has direct financial benefits. Another large environmental impact is air travel. It is important to think whether or not it is really necessary to fly to every meeting. Nowadays, it is perfectly acceptable to teleconference and it is a much less stressful alternative.

Source of Electricity: Produce electricity that causes the least amount of environmental impact. Nowadays, many electric companies offer the option to purchase electricity generated from renewable resources, such as wind, water and solar.

The journey from traditional film making to eco-friendly film production isn’t a piece of cake or simple, but at the end of the day, you know what you are striving for. For a green film set start small and once the members of your production team have incorporated these environmental practices into everyday life, you can move onto implementing bigger and better things.

But can going green really be cost effective?

Emille of O’Brien of Earth Angel  sums it up well in the conclusion of the Producer’s Guild of America sponsored document entitled Going Green and Saving Green:

“Smaller films may hire a PA or utilize an outside consultant, and depending on the support and mandates from the top – this can be cost effective. But the larger the production, the more necessary a full-fledged Eco Supervisor becomes. An Eco Supervisor is a resource, a seasoned production professional, and functions as a department head alongside other crew department heads. This person has an exclusive focus on implementing and managing systems from prep through wrap, and problem-solves in conjunction with all department heads as the unique challenges of a production arise.

If no one is available to oversee a production’s sustainability efforts, success rates are much lower. Going green on set means a lot more than setting out a recycling bin at craft service. It’s also about crew education and providing resources for sustainable alternatives. A strong sustainability campaign influences all departments of a production, as well as the community at large, in a mutually beneficial way.

Many decision-makers are discouraged by the idea of hiring additional labor to manage sustainability. However, by implementing the practices in this report, the results have shown a consistent net savings of thousands of dollars even after subtracting the cost of labor. The Eco department always pays for itself.

Converting to sustainable practices demands real systemic and cultural change. While many share a fear of change, let this document serve to at least eradicate the monetary fear. As an industry of forward thinkers, we certainly have the capacity to continue producing engaging entertainment without sacrificing our planet or the bottom line.”