In order to keep carbon emissions down, the UK’s film industry needs to take major steps in complying with carbon reduction commitments. According to a report by the BFI, ‘blockbuster films with budgets of over $70m (£53.5m) produce an average of 2,840 tonnes of CO2 per production, the new report reveals – a figure equivalent to the amount absorbed by 3,700 acres of forest in one year.’ Roughly 51% of the emissions are caused by transport while the rest is due to energy consumption of electricity, gas and diesel generators. (A Screen New Deal: a route map to sustainable film production)
The BFI has released two reports that outline the effect of current practises of film production on the environment, and a route map to how positive change can be achieved. According to the BFI who gathered evidence from industry representatives including Production Managers, Location Managers and Environmental Coordinators as well as executives at production studios and supply chain vendors, their research shows that many of the issues to do with the film industry and sustainability are to do with a lack of strategic co-ordination. Minimal regulations mean that the industry is left largely to its own devices and the lack of publicly available data about the scale of the environmental challenge for those involved in film production makes strategic planning to respond and manage environmental issues impossible.
Though the film industry has undoubtedly exacerbated the issue of climate change, and created an issue that seems too large to tackle, the BFI’s report documents the strategy needed to dismantle the effect that the industry has had and offers a new solutions to a sustainable form of film making. The report looks at five key areas: production materials, energy and water, studio buildings and facilities, and production planning. As a result of Covid, the necessity for transport has been reduced and it has provided an opportunity to look at new ways of working on set and location. This year has proven how films can be created digitally and can therefore reduce their impact. The future for sustainable film making in the UK is bright so long as film companies and all those involved work together to integrate change within the industry.
One organisation that strives to create change through film, not only in the way that there company is run but also in the effect that their films have is the Barnes Film Festival’s sponsor, Waterbear. Waterbear prides itself on being ‘the first video on demand platform dedicated to the future of our plant’ (Waterbear website). By providing high quality documentaries, it aims to save the planet through the impact of the content that it produces. The platform provides films that surround climate based and environmental issues and also offers a means for their subscribers to take action. It is supported by over 80 NGOs meaning that the content is free to watch with both original content and films that are created by the organisations that support it. Waterbear’s inspiring documentaries encourage their viewers to take action. It is the perfect example of how storytelling can have to power to make a constructive impact and it illustrates the positive change film is starting to make and will continue to develop in the years to come.
by Katie Garvin