Academy-award winning stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, as well as acclaimed director Steven Spielberg, were handed free reusable BPA water bottles on set when the principal photography of the period drama The Post began. During the forty-five shooting days in New York City, the estimated number of water bottles that were not used could have, if laid end to end, scaled the Empire State Building thirty times. 20th Century Fox took various measures to minimize its carbon footprint during the production. By recycling, composting, donating food and materials, as well as by introducing Meatless Mondays, The Post production saved 32.5 tons of carbon emissions – and the life of a cow.
“I think that reducing the amount of meat we consume is one of the easiest things we can do to make a positive impact on the environment”, says Emellie O’Brien, Founder and CEO of the New York-based company Earth Angel, which has already greened renowned feature films, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Noah, and Queen of Katwe. “When you add up the number of servings that are saved during a single film production, it turns out to be a significant figure, and I think illustrating the impact with the life of an animal really resonates with folks.”
Since 2017, when the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment launched NYC Film Green, the first sustainability program for the film and television industry in the United States, an increasing number of features films and TV shows are going green in the Big Apple. “20th Century Fox and Amblin Entertainment actively supported the decision to make The Post a green set”, says the Eco Supervisor, who had already worked with many of the crew members on other New York productions. “They were already familiar with our working methods, so they were enthusiastic about working with us again.”
A Green Newsletter and the Green Crew Members of the Week (GCOW) award were effective in spreading awareness and enhancing the crew’s participation. “There’s a sense of friendly competition that develops whenever prizes are involved”, highlights Emellie O’Brien. The incentive program rewarded sustainably-minded crew members for their eco-achievements. For example, the production designer used alternatives to wood for structural support when building sets, and he had construction debris collected in a designated scrap wood container for recycling.
The 1971 Washington Post newsroom required a lot of rented period props, vintage typewriters, and landlines, all of which went back to the rental houses after production wrapped. “It’s tough to track the lifecycle of all these materials that end up on a show – there are just so many!” Emellie O’Brien points out. “We’re constantly pushing the envelope by analyzing procurement as well as the supply chain in order to encourage the crew to minimize our carbon footprint across all departments.”
20th Century Fox has a long-running commitment to address the environmental impact made by its film and TV productions. It was the first major studio to take the initiative to institute a sustainable lumber policy, and it continues to introduce new environmentally-friendly technologies to be used on the set during production.
Photos: © Niko Tavernise, Hans Glick, Universal Pictures International