The Challenge of Sustainability: Film Production

When you think of movie production, you’re not likely thinking about environmental footprint, but you might be surprised at just how much waste can be generated during filming! With a huge cast and crew, you’re looking at shocking amount of human impact on the environment. For example, to keep a crew hydrated during filming, most productions provide water bottles to the crew. This doesn’t seem too bad until you consider that during the production of a blockbuster movie, you’re looking at roughly 200,000 water bottles! On top of that you’re looking at literal tons of food waste, greenhouse gasses from generators, sets and costuming that are typically scrapped at the end of production.

It’s no surprise then that the progressive hollywood stars have began to push for more sustainable practices on-set. These can be overarching best practices, or small touches that make an impact in the long run.

Let’s take those water bottles for example: in the last few years, there have been productions that have provided every crew and cast member a reusable water bottle from the beginning and made sure that water coolers or refill stations were readily available. The amount of waste drops significantly - not to mention everyone gets a collectible water bottle to remember their time on the project!

These little steps are seen all over the business: giving away the leftovers from craft services to people in need and composting what can’t be share, donating wardrobe of extras, tearing down sets to reuse the materials for new construction, switching to low power LED lights for shooting, using biofuels and solar power to run generators. Unfortunately, a lot of these decisions are largely up to the producer and their dedication to sustainability, but there are some studios that are being more proactive in making sure their movies and tv shows are as green as possible.

Sony is one of these studios that have jumped aboard the sustainability train. With their film, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Sony hired an independent contracting agency, Earth Angel, to help focus their sustainability efforts. It definitely paid off. The Amazing Spiderman 2 accomplished a 52 percent waste diversion rate, donated almost 50 tons of set materials for other projects, and just about 6,000 meals to community shelters in the area! Not to mention it earned a certificate of carbon neutrality and saved the $400,000.

More and more studios are seeing the benefits of going green during production and nearly all of the major studios are now actively promoting these practices on set. Even with the influence from studios though, these practices won’t majorly affect the business unless there is a centralized push by the industry as a whole and the cast and crew themselves.