7 essentials for greener film & TV productions in 2020
You are filming abroad and want to produce in a “greener” way, but don’t know where to begin? You can start by reading our seven tips.
The film industry is slowly waking up to a growing awareness of its impact on the climate. According to BAFTA, one hour of TV – fiction and non-fiction produces an average of 13 tons of carbon dioxide. This is nearly as much CO2 as an average American generates in a whole year and a Brazilian in 6 years.
It is evident that international productions have a much larger footprint than national productions. A two-way flight from London to Berlin produces 2.2 tons of CO2 for a crew of 5 people. From L.A. it is 25.5 tons of CO₂. This doesn’t even include excess baggage.
Fortunately more and more companies are aiming for greener productions and a lot of the big networks like Netflix, Sky and BBC are backing this process.
And the good news is that green production provides exciting opportunities. If you are going down that road, we are here to support you in this effort to make your production as green as possible.
1. Work with local crew
Many productions bring their whole crew to Germany and often do not even consider which roles they could fill just as well with a local.
We are starting to see a change though, and not just out of budget considerations – another advantage of working with local crews. You can cut your travel costs immensely. As an example, for a team of five people say from London you pay about 2,000 Euros for transport of the crew with gear and probably another 3,000 Euros for five nights in a hotel.
Production companies seem to be opening up more and more to working with local crews, and for some of them the carbon footprint is a major driver for this change. Another one is that they recognise the professionalism and expertise of local crews that meets their highest standards. Germany has a very vibrant film industry with many international productions and co-productions. We have a large network and are here for you to find the perfect match.
2. Rent locally
It’s perhaps a little-known fact that in Germany we have excellent equipment rentals, often at even better prices than rentals from abroad. If you fly your equipment from L.A. to Berlin and back with 180 kg of equipment (roughly 400 lbs.), your CO₂ emissions total around 4 tons for one single shoot. So why bother with the hassle of dragging all your equipment halfway across the world when you can get the same over here? Not to mention dealing with nerve-wracking carnets and customs issues. Tell us what you need and we’ll find you a good deal.
3. Reduce emissions by using local transport
For years we’ve avoided flying locally, taking the train instead. It is a common misconception that flying is the faster and cheaper option. For instance, the journey from Berlin to Munich, Cologne or Frankfurt takes roughly the same amount of time by train, and at a similar price. We have handled whole shoots with train transport including equipment. For bigger shoots there is always the option of CO₂-neutral shipping for equipment.
Within cities there are plenty of ways to reduce your production’s carbon footprint. This can mean switching to public transportation where possible, only using environmentally-friendly cabs, renting a hybrid or e-car, and more. Just ask us, we have solutions for you.
4. Switch to international train travel within the EU
Some pioneers are taking green production a step further by using trains to travel from their base to their shooting destinations. This is a great option if you are serious about reducing your CO₂ emissions: Compared to flying, train travel only produces a seventh of the emissions.
One such trailblazer is Tom Mustill who interviewed Greta Thunberg for a documentary. To cut down CO2 emissions his team took the train from the UK to Sweden. When asked if Tom would use trains over flights in the future he said
For a little more cost and a little more time you can mitigate the biggest environmental impact of your production, which we as an industry have a duty to do. It is entirely possible to avoid flying within the UK and Northern Europe, and companies that are choosing to fly people around unnecessarily should realise that they have a choice, and stop.”
Here you can learn more about this production and the takeaways:
5. Avoid plastic
This one is easy: Ask crew to bring their own re-usable bottles or we can provide them for you.
6. Eat right
By avoiding takeaways and having sit-down lunches instead you can kill two birds with one stone. It is better for the environment and also for your crew as you are giving them a proper break to recharge. To avoid waiting time, meals can be booked in advance.
Another idea is to challenge your crew to avoid eating meat by making it a competitive experiment for the days of production abroad.
Maybe you also want to look out for restaurants that serve locally produced and seasonal food.
7. Paperless production
Call-sheets are often printed out and then not used. Many find it more convenient to read them digitally, so it is a good idea to only provide them on demand.
Obviously, there is a lot more that can be done towards a greener production. Let’s talk about how we can make your production as green as possible.
Here are a few resources that we found useful:
Albert provides a tool for TV and film production companies to calculate and understand the environmental impact of their productions:
The Green Production Guide offers lots of background information including a green production toolkit