5 Ways to Reduce your Video Production Company’s Carbon Footprint

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According to the Green Screen Summary Report (April 2009) …

“The total carbon footprint of London’s screen production industry is approximately 125,000 tonnes a year. This is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions from almost 24,000 homes”.

That statistic is based only on London carbon emissions; if the largest film and television industries are in the US, India and now Nollywood, Nigeria, then that’s a whole lot of CO2 emissions. It’s essential that as an industry we do our part for the environment and try our best to lower our carbon footprint. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small web TV company with 3 employees or a massive studio with 100 employees, it’s important.

So how to take action on a potentially daunting task? All is not lost; it is possible to be green and work in the Film and TV industry;

1. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

It seems like such a small thing, but it does make a difference. It’s about changing the habits of your employees, freelancers and clients. Ensure you have recycling bins wherever possible and encourage people to use them.

Go a step beyond your standard paper, plastic, glass and tin recycling and offer facilities to recycle batteries, tetra paks, set build materials and props. None of these items need to go to the landfill, so why do we keep sending them there?

2. No More Plastic Water Bottles

Use glassware and drink tap water. It’s cheaper and for one, it doesn’t add to the scary Pacific Trash Vortex.

Bottled water is proven to be a big waste of resources. Yes, it may be convenient, but so is a re-usable and ‘green plastic’ water bottle

In 2006, according to The Pacific Institute, “producing the [water] bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation. Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and it took 3 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water”. So, that bottled water on your desk isn’t tasting too good right about now, is it?

Put glasses and a reusable pitcher of water out for clients and encourage your staff to use the tap rather than the bottle.

3. Green Enforcers

Allocate someone in either your production office, on-set or in post-production as the Green member of staff/crew. On set, this could be a runner or perhaps a 3rd A.D. on a bigger production. It’s easy to put recycling bins out and hope everyone else will follow suit, but the theory isn’t always put into practice.

You could also state your environmental standards on your call sheets so all members of crew are aware of your social responsibilities before they start the shoot.

By having a person on your team who is responsible for reducing waste and enforcing eco-friendly practices, you can ensure that it will be done.

4. Wheels on the Bike

Vehicle usage is one of the biggest culprits for greenhouse gas emissions. Three ways to counter that are:

(a) Encourage employees to either cycle to work or take public transport. Look into one of the Government funded cycle schemes which enables employers to loan cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. For more information, visit the Government’s Department for Transport website.

(b) Use cycle couriers for local jobs and try out a green cab service if using a cab is necessary.

(c) If a shoot is small, say a 1-camera shoot with a small crew, encourage your team to travel by public transport rather than drive to location.

5. It’s ‘Camera, Lights, Action’ for a Reason

Unless you’re a dogme 95 filmmaker, it’s near impossible to get away with not using light. The carbon footprint left by lighting equipment and generators is huge, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your environmental impact.

Based on the Green Screen report by Film London, “for both studio lighting and location lighting, try switching to Compact Flourescent Lighting (CFL). These lights reduce power demand by around 60 per cent as well as HVAC cooling needs. Fluorescent lighting provices ten times more light per wattage compared with standard tungsten and is expected to last up to 10 000 hours compared to 500 hours for tungsten lamps.”

Try to also use local sources of power whenever possible to reduce the use of generators; use dimmers to rest lights between shooting; and stay on top of your kit and replace any flickering, dim or burned out lights.

Christiaan Harden is the Business Development Manager at Spectrecom Films Ltd, an award-winning corporate video production company, the UK’s leading online video marketing authority and owner of Waterloo Film Studios, a four stage white / green screen London film studio complex for hire.


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Occupation: Business Development Manager
Christiaan Harden is the Business Development Manager at Spectrecom Corporate Video Production, an award-winning corporate video production company and market leading producers of online corporate video in London, England.

Spectrecom also operates its own white / green screen London television studios for hire.

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