The average tentpole film creates 2,840 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent carbon impact of 11 one-way trips from the Earth to the moon, according to a new sustainability report.
Titled “A Screen New Deal — A Route Map to Sustainable Film Production,” the report was commissioned by the British Film Institute in partnership with Albert, the BAFTA-led consortium that has been calculating the carbon footprint of British TV programs and the most recent BAFTA Awards, as a way to encourage energy efficiency.
The key aim of the report, which was researched and analyzed by engineering company Arup, was to examine the “systemic changes” needed in the film industry to reduce carbon emissions, alongside providing proposals for studios, recommendations and case studies of best practices and new innovation models from around the world.
“This report is being published at such an important moment for our industry,” said Pippa Harris, chair of the Albert Film Forum and producer at 1917 banner Neal Street Productions. “We have all felt the devastating economic and cultural effects of the pandemic, so now is the time to regroup and come back stronger. We cannot continue to create films in the same manner we did before with no long-term plan for the environment around us. It’s time for our industry to lead the way both on- and offscreen and rebuild for a cleaner, greener future.”
The research, which analyzed 19 productions with budgets in excess of $70 million shot in the U.K. and U.S. over the past five years, found that transport had the greatest impact regarding carbon emissions, accounting for almost 50 percent of total emissions. Of this, 30 percent is associated with air travel and 70 percent land travel.
It then examined five key areas of opportunity for transformation, including production materials, energy and water use, studio buildings and facilities, studio sites and locations, and production planning, providing three corresponding interventions for each. Several of the recommendations involved reducing waste by recycling materials and resources, utilizing renewable technologies and using digital tools to increase overall efficiencies.
“We want this report to kick-start a long overdue conversation with the key decision-makers in the film industry,” said Tim Snelson, associate director at Arup. “As we emerge from lockdown, we need to rethink our approach to filmmaking. If we simply pick up where we left off, we will miss our chance to deliver what is environmentally necessary. The changes suggested in this report can’t be implemented overnight and some of them require a new way of thinking, but grasping this challenge now will lead to improved efficiencies in the way we work, meaning more cash can be spent on what we see onscreen rather than what we have to currently send to landfill.”
Following the publication of the report, Albert will host a series of online events — with the support of the BFI and Arup — to explore its different sections.