Most of us know that it’s important to go green and leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible...at least in theory. Incorporating what that would entail into our busy lives, is a whole different thing. So, let me make this clear, thinking about going green isn’t helping one iota, and we are running out of wakeup calls. If there is to be any hope for the planet, the time for each one of us to make radical improvements is now, right this moment, not a moment later. These radical improvements in how we treat our planet, how we consume, how we live, would need to take place both at home and at work to be effective.
As filmmakers that can be challenging. Film production requires the use of so many resources. But we can’t be making films/documentaries calling people to task, and not step up ourselves. So. I’ve put together a list to help us get started right away. I’m sure we will learn and improve as we go.
Some of this will take a small time investment to begin with to set up, but the awards are plentiful. Not only will you be part of the solution in saving the planet, the donating and trading builds a sense of community; we are helping the planet and each other. An additional bonus, is that though the initial set-up might cost a little and some recycled products cost a tad more, ultimately, you should discover that you will be saving quite a bit of money!
Green Filmmaking Guide
For starters most film meetings can be done via phone, Skype or FaceTime rather than in person. My co-producer lives at least an hour and a half away from me. Though we felt it important to have our first meeting face to face, (and that meeting was combined with a trip I was already making to Sacramento), after that, we have our weekly meetings over the phone. We email visuals to each other then discuss, and we use the FaceTime or Skype option when needed. It not only saves gas, it saves us precious time.
For a perk: apply for grants and tax incentives for running a green set.
If you feel you need more guidance, take a Green Filmmaking Workshop. I’ve seen a few online.
Go digital whenever paper is not absolutely required with schedules, etc. When you do need to print, print double-sided using recycled paper.
Email out crew contact lists and encourage carpooling to the set.
If you don’t have the time to research or stay on top of it, hire an environmental-green manager to be an advisor before and/or during filming to help keep the set as green as possible.
Before the shoot, let every crew member on board know that it is a green set! No plastic bottles allowed on set. Let the crew know to please bring a steel or any other type of reusable water bottle and coffee/tea container. Let them know that you will provide filtered water, juice, coffee and tea, etc.. Bring a few extra containers to lend out on the set, should anyone forget theirs. This creates a positive shift in several ways. a) It keeps your set as green as possible with a group effort. b) Going green in your own life and work environment plants seeds of inspiration in others to do the same, especially when they see it really just takes a little effort, and is easier than one would think.
Have trash, recycling, compositing bins set up both in your office/production building as well as on set. Collect items like ink cartridges that can be refilled in a separate little bin.
Let the gaffer know to be diligent about not leaving the lights or anything electrical on when not needed.
Use rechargeable batteries
Find a catering service that is environmentally conscious and uses reusable plates and utensils instead of throw-aways. Leftover food should be donated...Set something up ahead of time. Or, if the leftover amount tends to be super small, send it home with the crew. Use reusable containers to store the food in, and when donating make sure biodegradable plastic, cardboard, or something of that nature is used to hold the food. (Research the product). I have seen way too many well-intentioned people wanting to do good donating food, but then end up using an exorbitant amount of the plastic and ziplock bags that have been causing the problems in our landfills and oceans, to transport the food in. Find an environmentally friendly solution. Better yet, you can transport food in bowls/pots/reusable containers and then transfer it to the recipient's reusable containers upon delivery, or swap containers regularly.
Collect e-waste and dispose of properly. Use the Earth 911 site to find places to dispose of these toxic items. They do not belong in landfill where the toxins can leech into soil and water.
Use as much recycled material as possible, from your paper goods, to props, sets and costumes. Borrow, trade or rent.
Use reusable faux goods: For example, you can rent reusable faux trees instead of cutting down live trees for set street design. You can use reusable faux baked goods, instead of baking/tossing out those types of props.
When it is necessary to build a set, create props or costumes, donate, sell, trade or recycle these set building materials or anything that is reusable. Aim to become a zero-waste company/production.
Good luck and blessings!