Climate Warriors Are Pushing Film and Television Productions to Pursue Strategies That Reduce Their Carbon Footprint - Latest Global News

Climate Warriors Are Pushing Film and Television Productions to Pursue Strategies That Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Behind the glitz and glamor of film production are the industry’s growing number of environmental warriors, working tirelessly behind the scenes to not only ensure that productions become more environmentally sustainable in the long term, but also to work to educate and promote climate storytelling on screen .

Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated producer Lydia Dean Pilcher, who founded New York-based production company Cine Mosaic, was one of the first advocates for sustainability in entertainment. After becoming a mother and inspired by Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An uncomfortable truththe producer, writer and director – whose credits include The Darjeeling Limited, Queen of Katwe And Radium Girl (a climate narrative she co-directed) – immediately felt compelled to be an ambassador for greener solutions in the industry.

Lydia Dean Pilcher

She trained at Gore’s The Climate Reality Project before co-founding PGA Green and the Producers Guild of America’s, an online industry toolkit for reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impact of film, television and streaming. Industry. Pilcher also serves as chair of the Directors Guild of America’s Sustainable Future Committee and was one of the first U.S. producers to measure the carbon footprint of productions after receiving a grant from the Alliance of Climate Protection, which she initially shared with her colleague Mari tested -Jo Winkler on Sam Mendes’ Focus Features production in 2009 Away we go, on which Winkler also served as executive producer. Shortly thereafter, she launched the PGA’s Sustainability Committee.

“Compared to when we started, we’ve gone through a big change,” says Pilcher. “At the moment, the climate crisis has worsened and more and more people have fallen victim to floods, wildfires or pollution in their everyday lives that require the wearing of masks. So it seems that people are now really ready to be more environmentally friendly in their choices. “Climate denial is not something that anyone familiar with what is happening.”

In 2014, Pilcher recognized that the industry needed a plan of action and the PGA issued a call to action. “We realized we couldn’t just talk about plastic water bottles and recycling – we had to do something bigger in energy. We knew very clearly that we needed to transition to electrification in our industry.” The PGA then made clear recommendations on best practices to achieve these goals and now hosts an interguild sustainability alliance that includes all major U.S. industry unions.

“It’s a powerful group,” she says. “We live in a climate-changing reality and it’s going to be a climate-changing future and we need to think about what we can do to prevent it from getting worse.” The transition to clean energy is super important and we’re committed to it “We really use all our energy.”

Emellie O’Brien, founder and CEO of Earth Angel, is another pioneer in the development of sustainable filmmaking, having worked on more than 160 major films, television series and commercials since 2011 to reduce their impact on the environment. Your sustainability leadership continues The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was hailed as one of Sony Pictures’ most environmentally friendly blockbusters. She founded Earth Angel in 2013 to expand her expertise and influence, and has since worked on projects like Darren Aronofsky’s The whaleAppleTV+s severance pay and Martin Scorsese Flower Moon Killer.

“I knew what a powerful medium this was and really wanted to use it to educate people about these important issues,” says O’Brien. “It wasn’t until I walked onto my first professional film set that I really realized how much resource inefficiency there was.”

O’Brien emphasizes the importance of education, collaboration and transparency and emphasizes the need for better resource management practices, including reducing waste and fuel consumption and prioritizing sustainability in the early planning stages.

Matt Scarff, Managing Director of Albert, at the Albert Sustainability Summit.

BAFTA/Polly Thomas

While she admits that the film and television industry is not one of the world’s biggest polluters, she points to the lack of data as an alarming signal. “What we know is that ultimately we are producing a luxury good and there are a lot of opportunities to reduce those impacts and the amount of emissions we are seeing from these projects is pretty staggering.”

As with Pilcher, the initial conversations with budget-conscious producers were challenging when Earth Angel first got started: “After we had our entire program mapped out, I was on the phone with producers who said to me, ‘I’m not here to save the planet save, I “I’m here to make a TV show.”

That mindset is starting to change, she says. “I usually tell producers to think of us as their sustainability department. Just as most productions have dedicated departments, we work in a very similar way.” These plans are tailored to each production and tracked throughout the entire life cycle of a production.

But how can you convince price-conscious producers to integrate a sustainability department into their budget during the planning phase, when it is generally assumed that more environmentally friendly solutions can often be more expensive these days?

“We need to present numbers in a way that makes sense for our communications, which doesn’t always align with the structure of production budgets,” says O’Brien. “It’s been a challenge over the years, but we’ve been able to show that there are savings.”

She points out that reuse strategies for materials are more cost-effective than using dumpsters as an example. In the A24 The whale, they were able to remodel the entire house set. She describes Aronofsky as a “tremendous advocate” of sustainable productions. “If you have the luxury of having talent committed to it, it goes a long way.”

Education is paramount, she adds, and O’Brien points to “great resources” like Pilcher’s and BAFTA albert (more on that later) as good starting points for production teams.

“The main thing that makes sense to me is donating your food,” O’Brien says. “Think about how you can donate your food because it will save you money and not spend as much on waste disposal.”

Keir Powell Lewis

Last year in the UK, the British Film Institute announced an industry support package for its new BFI National Lottery Sustainable Green Fund, investing £586,755 ($724,839) in two industry-leading programs – Julie’s Bicycle and BAFTA Albert – to help the British industry tackles the climate and environmental crisis. At the same time, the public funding body hired Keir Powell-Lewis for the newly created position of head of environmental sustainability at the BFI.

Julie’s Bicycle offers a range of free resources and tools for BFI-supported projects, such as the Green Cinema Toolkit, to help projects track their impact, while Albert from BAFTA has extensive experience delivering production and editorial training for the film industry. BAFTA albert’s CO2 calculator was initially developed in the television production sector, where it is widely used, but is now making its way into the film sector. All feature film productions supported by the BFI and co-financing bodies such as BBC Film and Film4 must apply for BAFTA Albert certification.

Powell-Lewis points out that an industry consultation with BritainThinks found that “environmental sustainability is really important to the sector, but no one really knows whose job it is.”

“It feels like one of those issues that everyone knows is important, but no one feels like they can resolve in a meaningful way,” he says. The BFI has made it a strategic principle for BFI-funded projects to meet sustainability criteria. “When we did that, we knew we had to give these projects the support they needed to make this happen.”

Partnering with BAFTA Albert ensured the training and resources provider could support the industry to effectively manage and reduce its carbon footprint across all areas. “We had to bring people together to approach sustainability as a sort of pre-competitive issue, so that we are able to make a difference rather than just tinkering around the edges.”

Powell-Lewis points out that “the greenest solution is not always the more expensive solution,” noting that there was a real problem with “over-specification of power generation” in production.

Sustainable productions

Earth angels do their cleanup work.

Earth angel

“Some of the data we have received suggests that people are overestimating their energy targets by around 80%. So we know that the energy consumption of the grid connections is about 18-22% of what they have specified for their generators and that is a big enlightenment for us.”

The BFI is also in the early stages of a project with ITV to decarbonise local production and provide grid connections across the UK, which Powell-Lewis says is a “real collaborative effort”.

Matt Scarff, managing director of BAFTA Albert, emphasizes that there are “many myths about sustainability around the world” and the organization prides itself on training people on how to frame questions to make every part of a production more environmentally friendly.

“It feels like the burden is on a sustainability specialist at the moment, but really it should be everyone’s responsibility,” he says.

Read the digital edition of Deadline’s Disruptors/Cannes magazine here.

But storytelling also plays a crucial role when it comes to changing perceptions within the company. Pilcher, who brings together 60 climate storytelling organizations in the industry “all working in different facets of research,” says she sees a movement in Europe and the US when it comes to presenting climate storytelling.

“It’s really an underutilized solution,” she says. “Toxic chemical companies and fossil fuel companies have long known that they are contributing to the destruction of the planet, and that is one of the reasons climate stories are important, because they have pushed them off our screens.”

And it doesn’t have to be dystopian storytelling that creates a feeling of “helplessness and fear” in the audience, she says.

“What we’re trying to say is that we can do this and find solutions, that we can work together, that we have agency, and that you will feel so much better about your world if you embrace this.”

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