Earlier in January, the BFI and BAFTA jointly presented the latest event in their annual Greening the Screen series. At the Jan 14th event, leading practitioners from both UK TV and Film, got together for an afternoon of panel discussions and presentations that showcased the current best practice for environmentally responsible production. The  event explored the ways in which the industry can lessen its negative impacts, while highlighting  the steps that film production professionals can currently take to support more sustainable practices. This is a much needed area of attention, as the film industry based in the UK annually emits 150,000 tonnes of CO2 from film production alone. The conversation that was started at the Greening the Screen event will be further continued next month at the Berlinale during Shades of Green – Do we need rules to take responsibility? a hosted panel discussion at the festival on Feb.7th. [image: Vrij Nederland]

Greening the Screen in the UK with BAFTA and the BFI 

To much success, the event was able to strengthen and solidify sustainability commitments from BAFTA, BFI, MU, Equity and other industry organisations, as well as the main UK studios. According to media sustainability consultants from Greenshoot -who are also working with the BFI on developing production sustainability case studies- what’s needed now, is support for sustainability from all on-set cast and crew: “when you sign film or TV deal memos, and contracts expecting the norm of a safe set, ask if the production can be run in a more sustainable way. If not, why not? Shouldn’t the protection of our beautiful living and breathing planet have the same due care as safety onset? No excuses.” Greenshoot is further adamant that the message at the Greening the Screen event was crystal clear: ” make constant small changes regularly, and we can reduce our industry Co2e footprint by 30% within the next 3 years – if we all work together.”

The afternoon included input from a variety of diverse productions, which managed to round off a most impressive roster of contributing UK production professionals. Those in attendance included: Caroline Cooper Charles (Producer, The Incident), Melanie Dicks, (Managing Partner, Greenshoot), Patrick Evans (Producer, Snow Wolf Family & Me), Tim Sealey (Head of Production, RoughCut), Jane Hooks (Co-producer, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death), Wendy Wright (Line Producer Casualty), Tim Scoones (Executive Producer, Winterwatch), Patrick Schweitzer (Producer, The Interceptor, Call the Midwife, Whitechapel)and Paul Williams (Series Producer, BBC Monsoon). The event was moderated by actor, impressionist, and green campaigner Alistair McGowan.

Some other notable points and examples that were made at the event (courtesy of The Knowledge Online):

Paul Williams, producer of ‘Wonders of the Monsoon’, chronicled some of their trials and solutions: “Wonders of the Monsoon is set across 12 countries and shot over two years, making the carbon emissions from all those flights enormous. Twenty eight tonnes of carbon is emitted from one shoot since we have a lot of weight added from 30 bags of kit. Our solution was to use cameramen in India that we knew and trusted, so we were able to direct them from afar and not have to physically go there. We ended up saving 100 tonnes of carbon by cutting out six international flights. That would fill 28 houses.”

-Bex Hopkins, head of production management at the National Film and Television School, said that all student productions now use Albert+ (a sustainability mark indicating a production has taken steps to manage and reduce its environmental impact) to make sure all their projects are eco-friendly.

-Others have taken measurements towards greener energy Tim Scoones, executive producer of Winterwatch, for example, says he is now using methanol fuel cells to power cameras, lights and other pieces of equipment: “They’re very easy to refuel and they’re completely silent which is perfect for us when we’re up filming in the Scottish mountains,” he says. “The only waste they produce is carbon dioxide and water. We’ve also now switched from a petrol jib to a methanol jib, which has actually made filming much smoother and far quieter.”

-Wendy Wright, line producer on BBC’s Casualty, mentioned the production had cut down on paper by 75% through scripts and call sheets being made available through mobile overnight.

-On-screen talent also voice their concerns. Cameron Diaz, for example, reported that no set that she’s on can have polystyrene on it, as it’s completely non-recyclable. This is something Tim Sealey, head of production at RoughCut, has mimicked in his own productions.

Shades of Green – Do we need rules to take responsibility? at the Berlinale in Germany with Green Film Shooting and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) 

The Greening the Screen event was undeniably successful in providing a platform for industry professionals across the UK, to connect and exchange on the theme of sustainability. This conversation will be further continued next month at the Berlinale Film Festival during a hosted panel discussion on Feb.7th. The event is entitled Shades of Green – Do we need rules to take responsibility?, and it is being hosted by Green Film Shooting and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH). It will be moderated by Birgit Heidsiek, Publisher of Green Film Shooting.

Key questions to be explored at the event are: What does it take for productions to go green? Is it enough to conduct training workshops on sustainable methods and measures? Does the Film/TV industry need green incentives? Will productions implement green best practices only if guidelines require their carbon footprint, before they receive full funding?

It will be a lucrative event as different approaches, models and experiences used across European countries, will be compared and discussed at this internationally accessible industry event.  German Eva Hubert (Director Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, FFHSH), French Joanna Gallardo (Coordinator of French consortium Ecoprod), Flemish Siebe Dumon (Flanders Audiovisual Fund in Belgium) as well as Dutch Els Rientjes (Sustainability Manager at the Netherlands Film Fund) will all be present to share and discuss the current state of green filmmaking in their home countries respectively. They will also explore the parameters for a unified direction towards a more sustainable production industry future, for the whole of the EU.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also like the following from our blog: UN Climmate Summit in NYC: Big moves for Green thinking, Action, and Business, and Short Film Series: Nature is Speaking… are you listening?