When a movie wraps, the production often has to deal with a lot of waste – and most of it won’t be reused or recycled – but most of it could be recycled without any additional investment of time or money. In Great Britain, Scenery Salvage is offering a full-set recycling service to studios as well as location shoots. While set items such as doors, windows, furniture, props, and costumes are resold to other productions, the remaining materials, such as wood, metal, and plastics are sorted, stored or processed.
Metal is first crushed, then sent to a smelter to be turned into a raw material again. Plastics are made into pellets, while useful components are photographed, catalogued, and resold at reduced rates to the industry. The production company only pays for the transport costs, the weight per ton, and the labor for offloading.
Despite such inspiring initiatives, in general the level of environmental awareness in the film and TV production industry still remains low. Eight key filmmaking regions have therefore decided to collaborate in the European Green Screen project. “We’re working at the policy level with regional authorities to create the right conditions for film and TV productions to adopt sustainable working practices”, says Daniela Kirchner, Chief Operating Officer of lead partner Film London. “Environmental authorities manage the infrastructure that pro- ductions need, such as waste recycling and green transport. By working together, we can support our sector in managing its impact on the environment.”
When it comes to reusing and recycling, Belgium offers a good model for adaptation. Designed as a major social employment program that has cre-ated more than 5,000 jobs throughout Brussels, Kringwinkel is bringing products back into the consumer cycle. Reusable goods, which would otherwise end up in landfills, are being collected, repaired, and then resold. The variety of products ranges from household goods, clothing, furniture, electronics, and bicycles to toys, music, and books. The collection team offers a free pick-up service for reusable items, which are then catalogued and posted online.
Production companies are often unaware of their environmental impact because no specific environmental regulations govern film and TV industry practices. The Green Screen project will enable Film London, Flanders Audiovisual Fund in Belgium, Ile-de-France Film Commission in France, and the Municipality of Ystad in Sweden to share best practices in sustainable production with Promálaga in Spain, Bucharest Ilfov Regional Development Agency in Romania, Rzeszow Regional Development Agency in Poland, and the Regional Development Agency Senec–Pezinok in Slovakia.
For example, the Ecoprod Collectif in France, in partnership with the Île-de-France Film Commission, published a guide on waste management, recycling measures and methods for film and TV productions. Green Screen is gathering these examples and will publish a European best practice guide. Its goal is to align and standardize environmental practices, as well as to improve regional policies so that sustainable production measures for film, TV, and audiovisual content may be adopted across Europe.
“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.