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Reducing carbon emissions in film-making


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#1 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:18 PM

I'm not looking for a debate on the scientific reliability of climate change predictions here, or on government (in)action. I'm assuming that some of those who acknowledge the science wil also recognise the need to do something about it on a personal and local level (while waiting for the politicians to do what they always do).

So my question is - are there any tips or ideas about reducing waste, pollution and carbon emissions in film production that anyone here has thought of or would like to see put into practice? Things on set like bottled water, things about getting there like car-pooling, things in the office or postprod facility like using less paper, power-saving tricks etc. Anything specific to screen production in fact.

Please share.
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:23 PM

I guess I can't participate then, as per your instructions :D

R,
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:49 PM

I'm not looking for a debate on the scientific reliability of climate change predictions here, or on government (in)action. I'm assuming that some of those who acknowledge the science wil also recognise the need to do something about it on a personal and local level (while waiting for the politicians to do what they always do).

So my question is - are there any tips or ideas about reducing waste, pollution and carbon emissions in film production that anyone here has thought of or would like to see put into practice? Things on set like bottled water, things about getting there like car-pooling, things in the office or postprod facility like using less paper, power-saving tricks etc. Anything specific to screen production in fact.

Please share.


There are lots of half-hearted attempts at dealing with water bottles and whatnot, but the question is what contributes in major ways to a production's carbon footprint? Is it flying actors and key crew members to other countries to make movies? Is it the use of generators and large trucks? Is it the crew commuting to work? Or is it mostly in these consumables like wood for construction, water bottles, tape rolls, paper for scripts, call sheets, sides, etc.
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#4 James Ewen

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 12:51 AM

There are a few organizations that have invested resources into looking at this;

http://www.centerfor...tions/greenfilm
http://www.filmnz.co...uide/green.html


James
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 12:58 AM

There are lots of half-hearted attempts at dealing with water bottles and whatnot, but the question is what contributes in major ways to a production's carbon footprint? Is it flying actors and key crew members to other countries to make movies? Is it the use of generators and large trucks? Is it the crew commuting to work? Or is it mostly in these consumables like wood for construction, water bottles, tape rolls, paper for scripts, call sheets, sides, etc.


Well, gennies and trucks would seem a logical place to start. Both trucks and gennies could go to a low emission bio-diesel. Vans, cars and pick ups can be ran on propane or hybrid technology. Lamps could be made more efficient, one could use laptops for scripts (I'm actually considering this for scripty on our productions), actually for camera dept as well, making sure everything is backed regularly. Water bottle could go to canteens with a central water dispenser at craft services. Not much one can do about tape. State tax incentives could help with travel to foreign lands I mean we have almost every environments on earth in the US. Jungles in Hawaii, tundra and snow in Alaska, swamps in Louisiana and Florida, Forests in California, Washington, deserts in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. Rolling hills in and farmland in Iowa and Nebraska, Flat land in Kansas and Oklahoma. Some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. What can't be shot here?
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 01:35 AM

There are a few organizations that have invested resources into looking at this;
http://www.centerfor...tions/greenfilm
http://www.filmnz.co...uide/green.html
James


Thanks James- I hadn't come across the centre for social media one before, it looks excellent.

Here are a couple of others that I've drawn from in the past . . .
http://www.greeningthescreen.co.nz
http://www.ukfilmcou...k/environmental
http://grass.org.au/
http://wbenvironment...andbook2007.pdf

Anyone here with actual experience of trying to put these into effect - even the water bottle stuff?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 02:26 AM

Anyone here with actual experience of trying to put these into effect - even the water bottle stuff?


Fox Atomic, when I did "Jennifer's Body" in Vancouver, and the line producers, implemented a fairly "green" policy -- everyone was issued a metal water bottle and water dispensers were placed in different spots on the stages for refilling them, so there was minimal use of plastic water bottles, plus all trash had to be sorted and recyclables separated. So far, that was the most rigorous shoot I've done in terms of enforcing a green policy. Other shoots have been half-assed about it, forgetting to put out separate trash cans for recyclables, telling you to refill your water bottle but forgetting to leave filling stations, etc. Part of the problem is that it falls upon the set PA's to arrange this stuff, so if they aren't given the full support of the production office and AD staff, then it falls behind.

Ignoring the green aspect of this for a moment, what has bugged me for a long time is the sheer waste of U.S. production methods -- when I did that small feature in Russia in 2001, the crew members saved pieces of gel and blackwrap and neatly stored them. Whereas here I'm constantly seeing crew members cut another piece of 216 for a Kinoflo, for example, because they misplaced the last piece they cut, and blackwrap is wasted and tossed into the trash regularly.

Not to mention the sheer amount of paper printed during a shoot, the endless rewrites and new script pages to be copied, filed, old ones discarded, etc. and the sides and call sheets, etc.
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#8 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 03:22 AM

Ignoring the green aspect of this for a moment, what has bugged me for a long time is the sheer waste of U.S. production methods -- when I did that small feature in Russia in 2001, the crew members saved pieces of gel and blackwrap and neatly stored them. Whereas here I'm constantly seeing crew members cut another piece of 216 for a Kinoflo, for example, because they misplaced the last piece they cut, and blackwrap is wasted and tossed into the trash regularly.



Some of that gets unofficially recycled to the EPK crew. ;) Do you think that I get paid for my expendables? Phhtttt! :(
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 03:29 AM

Anyway, I took it upon myself to purchase three reusable water bottles (ten bucks each at Target) and I fill them from home every night (so they chill in the fridge) and I take them to every shoot I do. I'm not using the plastic bottles from Craftie and it makes me drink more than I ordinarily would throughout the day, which presumably, is better for ME healthwise.

I also now submit ALL of my invoices to clients/vendors via email after turning them into Acrobat documents and pretty much all my callsheets are delivered by email so I can transfer the info into my Outlook Calendar so it goes into my smartphone. My paper use is WAY down from past years.

It may not be much, but whether or not climate change is real (I personally believe in the science that says it is), every little bit can't hurt, I figure.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 06:21 AM

As someone said above, I do wonder about the need to do so much travelling, especially for US-based productions where the US is so geographically diverse. About the only thing you don't have in quantity is low desert, and there's even a small but workable chunk of that (the Imperial Sand Dunes) down by the Mexico border. Don't get me wrong, I love travelling and it's one of the best things about this game, but it is outrageously heavy on the ol' C emissions. Even for non-US people, I remember one year (2004 I think) I flew to the US about four times in three months, which is a bit crazy (and raises eyebrows with the immigration people).

You have to be a bit careful about biodiesel. The problem of stealing food production resources from the third world is one issue, but mainly the sad fact is that there's a great risk of burning more diesel producing the stuff than you save by using it.

In a wider sense I don't think that we will solve the environmental issue until people are a lot more willing to talk about population control. It is axiomatic that, given the fact that this planet has exactly one power source, there is an absolute maximum number of humans it can support. The number of humans it can support in any comfort is lower than that, and the number it can support comfortably and sustainably is even lower than that. I don't know if the current population is already oversize given these concerns, but certainly bigger is not helpful; a microcosm of this can be seen in parts of Africa. This is not actually a complicated solution once we solve the problem that, either de facto in the developing world or through the formalised arrangement of pensions in the developed world, we have set up our societies to be constantly dependent on a growing population such that there are enough young people around to look after the old people. This is a serious problem with this idea and is strongly correlated with the current economic problems as well, given that we are financially set up to require constantly increasing debt, but I suspect not as serious as the gross overpopulation towards which we seem to be enthusiastically sprinting.

Population control is a dirty word at the moment and any mention of it tends to bring (rather unfair) comparisons to China, but the sad fact is that either we will choose to limit our numbers, or circumstance will forcibly limit them for us, and the former is, even if unpleasant, going to be a lot more pleasant than the latter.

P
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#11 Rob Vogt

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 06:34 AM

I would say using HMI and Kino lighting exclusively. Also getting craft services to offer more vegetarian selections (if not veggie only) from local farms to keep down on food miles. Spending less on crew hats/t-shirts ect. (maybe using the kind that are made from recycled bottles).
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#12 Mei Lewis

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 09:19 AM

I think carbon emission during what happens after the films is made should be considered.

Millions of pages of advertising in print magazines, moving film prints around the world (and producing them in the first place), sending star actors to many countries to talk to the local press there.

Cinemas print tickets only for you to walk 10 yeards and have them torn in half or taken from you. Popcorn, drinks and other snacks come in more packaging than they need and all of it is just thrown away.

It's s total guess, but I bet for most films, the amount of pollution created by filming is dwarfed by the amount made from promoting, distributing and viewings.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 06:30 PM

So my question is - are there any tips or ideas about reducing waste, pollution and carbon emissions in film production that anyone here has thought of or would like to see put into practice? Things on set like bottled water, .....


There's a lot of the minor symbolic stuff that David mentions going on. For instance, we have GreenDisk recycling dailies DVD's.

But for production itself, remember shiny boards? There's free solar energy for ya. Instead of running a genny for day exterior fill, bring back the venerable shiny boards, and pay the grips to shake them up as the sun moves. We used to do stuff like relaying from a hard mirror to a board down a narrow alley. You do have to pay attention to your light meter throughout the day, though.





-- J.S.
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#14 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:19 PM

I worked on one of the launch shows for Planet Green last year and it was as green as we could make it. There were absolutely no plastic waterbottles on set. We instead had places to fill bottles. There were corn plastic cups and eating utensils for meals. Our meals were catered by a company that takes the leftovers to homeless shelters. Our crafty was bought in larger packages and when we wanted something we got a paper cone full of nuts or a coffee filter full of chips. Quite a few of us would even pocket that paper cone and use it a few times.

The least green thing we did was driving, often having 2-4 locations around the LA area in a single day. Once it became evident that was going to be the norm, we usually would drive to the first location and carpool the rest of the day if that was possible. There were always exceptions like if the last location was right by somebody's house, but we really did what we could. This included both crew and talent.

It was a small shoot and fairly easy to do this since we were pretty lightweight and mobile anyway.
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:28 PM

My big problems with "recycling" (although I sure-as-hell still use it!) is that, by "recycling," just what Dominic said in another thread about print recycling is that the end broken-down product can't be used again for the original product.

I know that plastic water bottles, paper, and other commonly-recycled products aren't used to make more water bottles and paper, the former because the companies don't know if toxic things have since been stored in the plastic that would sicken re-users, and the latter because it'd cost too much extra to re-whiten paper. I think newsprint is about the only type of paper that can be re-processed back into more newsprint stock, because it isn't initally bleached white. Of course all the print dyes, etc. on it is still waste, just as dyes on film is "waste" when it is recycled.


One thing I'd like to see done is coming up with an efficient way to recycle products back into their original uses more efficiently, which is more of an industrial problem than a user-end problem (except for the butts that callously refuse to recycle with flippant "facts" about it costing more energy to recycle than just make new product.

Another thing I'd like to see done, on the lab end at least, is to see plastics recycled. We really can only recycle scrap, unprocessed film, and then in that case it is only for the silver. The plastic is wasted. Similarly, I've heard stories about still labs throwing away dumpster-loads of photographic prints, and X-ray operations throwing out dumps of silver-rich double-sided X-rays due to stupid privacy issues.

Then, of course, I'd like to see more efficient uses of water in processing machines and better utilization of chemistry (I'm surprised to see how many labs dump most of what they use down the drain instead of regenerating it).

Still labs have, in some cases, gotten rid of water washes altogether, but this is at the expense of print (and the very very few people who still shoot still film) permanence.


Not that film sets don't contribute a lot of waste, but I still think a whole lot of waste is coming from theatres that just throw trailers out, print depots that throw prints out, and wasteful water and chemistry practices by labs.


Oh, and Bryan, you wasted your $10! Take one of those bottled waters (don't buy one!) and you have yourself a water bottle :-D
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#16 David Rakoczy

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:41 PM

I guess I can't participate then, as per your instructions :D

R,


Me too. I am out.. especially with the revelations of the recent "scientific" emails discussing how to (suppress) all the data showing that this is all B.S.
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:46 PM

Me too. I am out.. especially with the revelations of the recent "scientific" emails discussing how to (suppress) all the data showing that this is all B.S.


Shhhhhhhhh!!

R,
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:49 PM

Global warming aside, David, surely you agree that filling acres and acres (hectares and hectares) of land with empty plastic bottles, and reams of paper is NOT good for the Earth.

Solely from the point of wasting space, wasting materials and discarding them before they have been fully used is wasteful, inefficient, and harmful to the common good.
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#19 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 09:08 PM

Also getting craft services to offer more vegetarian selections (if not veggie only) from local farms to keep down on food miles.


Wow, really? Not on any set of mine. Meat keeps a lot of people moving. Learn to live with that fact.

This thread is really way, way over the top.

Shhhh, indeed.
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#20 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 10:15 PM

Global warming aside, David, surely you agree that filling acres and acres (hectares and hectares) of land with empty plastic bottles, and reams of paper is NOT good for the Earth.

Solely from the point of wasting space, wasting materials and discarding them before they have been fully used is wasteful, inefficient, and harmful to the common good.


You didn't ask me, but I'll chime in any way.

YES, I agree that we should rid the world of those damn wretched plastic bottles and coffee cups too!! I am sick of seeing the damn things all over film sets, and the planet in general.

Give every one a stainless steel bottle, you fill it with tap water, done! I can't believe what slobs many film set workers can be, I'm always shocked when a coffee cup actually makes the recycling bin. It's some what of a miracle. Not too mention how many times the *bleeping* things have been spilled on set.

Why film people need 13 gallons of coffee a day to keep going is beyond me? :blink:

And I'm all for saving paper & gasoline, when you start writing the cheques for that stuff you start to realize how expensive it really is. So YES we should conserve.

As for vegetarian options? If people want that sure, but I'm a meat eater and all of the men I know in the film biz are as well.

Out of respect for Dominic's request I won't add any thing about global warming, fact or fiction, etc.

R,
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