With over 700 films produced every year, the film industry has a transformative effect on the environment. The casts and crews involved in making movies are large groups that often include over 250 people. The transportation, food service, and accommodations for this mass of people create a huge carbon footprint that is not sustainable unless executives adopt greener practices. Using renewable energy, recycling props and waste, using LEDs, hiring eco-managers, using hybrid and electric vehicles, and conducting online auditions are some of the ways that film studios can reduce their environmental impact.
1) Renewable Energy
Although homeowners are increasingly reliant on renewable energy, commercial property owners are catching up, and several corporations like Warner Brothers are adopting solar energy to power their studios and offices. Film studios, comparable to the size of a manufacturing plant, simulate locations in the real world and require a substantial power supply to operate effectively. To reduce operational costs and preserve fossil fuels, more studios should invest in solar power. Twenty years ago, film executives criticized the idea of using solar panels because of their cost and energy output. However, since solar panels are more efficient and economical, the same argument cannot be applied. Film making requires an enormous supply of energy, and switching to solar seems like a logical decision.
2) Prop Recycling
Another way movie makers can reduce their carbon footprint is to recycle props and building materials. In the past, some companies have shared sets or materials to reduce costs, but anything that isn’t shared is tossed in the garbage. Set building and prop construction produce large quantities of waste that can be recycled. For the last ten years, Sony has led the entertainment industry in green practices by donating over 90% of its props and materials to local charities. Food and clothing used in Sony films are also sent to food banks and homeless shelters.
3) LED Lighting
Lighting means everything on a movie set. Simulating natural light on a set requires a complex series of high-intensity lighting that pulls a lot of energy. To reduce their energy consumption, more lighting technicians are replacing standard bulbs with LEDs. A 100-watt bulb can be replaced with a 60-watt LED that provides the same lighting, and most LEDs will last six to eight years longer than traditional bulbs.
One recent development that improves film industry sustainability is the hiring of eco-managers. An eco-manager is an environmental consultant that helps studios adopt a greener approach to filmmaking. Some changes the managers recommend include abolishing single-serving utensils at catering locations, requiring cast and crew to provide their non-disposable water bottles, donating unused catering food to homeless shelters, and decreasing energy consumption at studios and location shoots. Some managers try to motivate the film crews by providing rewards and recognition for individuals who quickly adapt to green initiatives.
5) Hybrid Vehicles
Transporting materials and crew members to outlying locations is a significant operation that can negatively impact the environment. By reducing their reliance on gas-powered vehicles, studio executives can save money and decrease their impact on air pollution and fossil fuel consumption. Hybrid and electric vehicles are more cost-effective than they were a decade ago, and some manufacturers are designing larger commercial vehicles for long-distance hauling. Large set pieces require massive rigs for transporting, and luckily, an electric eighteen-wheeler that can travel 500 miles is now available.
6) Online Auditions
With the current acceptance of online conferencing and interviews, more hiring managers and casting agents are relying on online auditions. Multiple auditions require actors to travel frequently, and by shifting auditions to an online format, studios can reduce the pollution caused by transportation and decrease their energy costs. Casting agents will not need a large waiting room blasting the air conditioner to conduct interviews, and since more people are comfortable with video chats, auditioning online should be a straightforward exercise.
Although the movie industry, because of its size, produces a large carbon footprint, more studio heads are adopting green practices and making efforts to streamline their productions. Hopefully, in the next ten years, the film industry can become associated with improving the environment.