BFI Report reveals barriers to sustainable production
“Attitudes to environmental sustainability are changing in the film industry, but current approaches lack strategic co-ordination” finds a new BFI report on sustainability and film production. "A step change is needed in industry efforts to help meet the UK’s legally binding carbon reduction commitments” it concludes.
The Green Matters report, a snapshot of UK film production activity over summer 2019 states that “there is minimal regulation at present, and industry is left largely to its own devices...this is likely to change in the near future".
The report highlights notable barriers to adopt greener behaviours these include perceptions around the additional time and costs involved; a tendency to stick with tried and tested production methods, productions and services; a general lack of awareness and low prioritisation of sustainability; and limited green infrastructure and supply chain options.
2019 was a record-breaking year for the UK production industry, but the production boom is acting as an obstacle sustainable production as commercial pressures, such as the squeeze on studio and crew capacity, means sustainability remains a low priority.
However, the increase in new studio developments taking place across the country are an opportunity to incorporate the latest thinking and resources, as retrofitting older studio buildings and facilities is more costly, although being done. Energy, transport and waste are the three main areas in which studios can contribute to sustainable practices, as well as advising and assisting clients.
US Studios and UK films use alternative systems of carbon calculation and sustainability certification making it difficult to compare practices from production to production.
US studio productions use the Environmental Green Seal for Production, while UK productions use Albert sustainability production certification.
To receive a Green Seal, productions must meet seventy-five points out of a possible two hundred. The EMA Gold Seal goes to projects that score 125 points or more. In 2019, twenty US feature films received a Green Seal, while thirty-two received Gold Seal.
Case studies on Gold Seal award recipients that shot in the UK, such as Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Yesterday, Mary Queen of Scots and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom show that common measures taken include the use of majority LED lighting packages, setting up a comprehensive recycling and composting program, supplying reusable water battles to cast and crew and using rechargeable batteries. Donating materials, such as props, excess food, sets and clothing was also common.
While the report finds that attitudes to environmental sustainability are changing in the film industry, current approaches lack strategic co-ordination. There is also a risk of industry disengagement unless messaging and support are in tune with corporate thinking, and the commercial and practical realities of feature film production in the UK. To combat this, Green Matters concludes that future research is done around the barriers to sustainable production, the triggers that start a new behaviour and motivators which help them stick with it, taking into account different departments and levels in film production.
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