4 November 2020
How the Film and TV Industry is Working Towards Sustainability
Photo Credit: Jakob Owens /Unsplash
story highlights

The 2020 Sustainable Production Forum is underway in a digital format, with a series of virtual panels concluding on 28 October.

The Forum brings together panelists and participants to create a more sustainable motion picture industry.

One participant highlights that going green on set is possible with little to no money by allowing enough time for research and planning.

By Nick Mateo and Jules Hogan

“The climate is changing. The arts, and motion picture in particular, changes culture. Period.” This is how Zena Harris, President and Founder of Green Spark Group, explains the inspiration behind The Sustainable Production Forum (SPF).

The Sustainable Production Forum (SPF) was co-founded by Green Spark Group and the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2016. The 2020 SPF is underway in a digital format, with a series of virtual panels concluding on 28 October.

SPF brings together panelists and participants from all around the globe, for the common purpose of creating a more sustainable motion picture industry. “We have an impact behind the camera on how we produce our content, and we have a responsibility on screen to model a way of living and share stories that have a positive influence on people,” Harris says.

Going Green on Set

An immense amount of waste and pollution lies behind the scenes of every production. According to BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a single hour of television produced in the UK, whether fiction or nonfiction, produces an average of 13 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). These emissions amount to nearly as much as the average American generates in an entire year.

Despite this heavy carbon footprint, many panelists from this year’s SPF have stressed that going green on set is not hard or expensive. It is a matter of becoming aware and being willing to put in a little effort.

Alyssa Kostello, an independent filmmaker from Vancouver, BC, says, “Going green on set with little to no money is possible! The goal is not to be perfect in doing so, but to try. The biggest thing is giving yourself time to do the research and planning.” As for her own efforts to stay green on set, Kostello says: “Even with COVID, we managed to be pretty sustainable with everyone bringing their own water bottles, coffee mugs, cutlery.”

Pointing to the Exits

This year’s SPF features an incredibly diverse panel, with representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa, the UK, and the US., ranging from small independent filmmakers to producers of award-winning shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo.

Damon Gameau, featured in the SPF panel on ‘Climate Narratives,’ is an Australian filmmaker and actor. His recently completed the documentary ‘2040,’ which shows how the world could look in 20 years if the best climate change solutions are implemented right now. Gameau urged panel attendees to avoid the dystopian narrative that often comes with climate-themed films, and instead tell the positive stories about how much better things could be. “It’s important to sound the fire alarm, but it’s also important to show people where the exits are,” Gameau said.

Brewing Conversation on Sustainable Filmmaking

The like-minded individuals that have come together for SPF are showing that there is a brewing conversation around sustainability in the film and TV industry. One filmmaker from Los Angeles, Samuel Rubin, Young Entertainment Activists and co-founder of sister company YEA Impact, spoke on the importance of educating more people in sustainable filmmaking. “Raising awareness is essential because sustainable production isn’t only about offering vegan options and eliminating plastic bottles,” he said. “When we learn more about it, we find innovative ways to minimize our energy consumption and maximize our creative control. Why not improve the filmmaking process for the sake of the planet?”

Human beings have gathered to listen to stories since the beginning of our recorded history. Stories are as much a part of the human experience as breathing clean air; both are crucial. “We as humans seek stories and entertainment and I believe the motion picture is critical in the sustainability journey of humankind and ultimately our planet,” says Harris.

We invite everyone to find the recordings of this year’s panel discussions at https://www.sustainableproductionforum.com/.

The authors of this guest article are Nick Mateo, Marketing Coordinator, Sustainable Production Forum (SPF), and Jules Hogan, Operations Coordinator, Green Spark Group.

related posts