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 1971Washington 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.
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.