A little while ago I was trying to find any other sustainable filmmakers, and I came across a profile called The Green Filmmaker on Instagram. Soon I started talking to the person behind the profile, we realised we had a lot in common and now we’re working together on my film Limerence, so I’m very excited to be writing this post about Laura!
‘I'm still learning, and making mistakes, but I'm trying to keep informed.’
Laura was always interested in the wellbeing of animals, but it’s only been a few years since she’s been thinking about sustainability too. It was documentaries of the state of the environment that made her realise how bad the effects of CO2 and single-use plastic were and inspired her to make a change.
Laura started to change her kitchen and bathroom by buying non-plastic alternatives to everyday things, such as bamboo toothbrushes, reusable make-up wipes, shampoo and soap bars. She goes to a plastic free shop to buy pasta, rice and similar ingredients and keeps them in glass jars, and she uses beeswax wraps for fresh food and produce bags for loose fruits and vegetables. She recently started keeping compost which she can bring to someone near her with a big compost bin, using a ‘sharewaste’ website. Laura also is a vegetarian, and she eats a lot of vegan food.
‘All this is not to say I am plastic free, even though I'd love to be, or that I never have any waste, because I do. But I am much more mindful about it and try and make the right choices. On the other side of it, I think it is important to accept that you can't be perfect and not get angry with yourself every time you do buy something with plastic packaging or have waste.’
‘I realised the problem of waste by the amount of full binbags that film sets can go through daily.’
After seeing how wasteful the film industry can be, Laura did some research and was pleasantly surprised to find that lots of things were being done already to make films more sustainable.
‘In the UK you have Bafta's ALBERT, through which I recently did a Carbon Literacy training, and many big studios are also now making big changes to make their films sustainable. I think that sustainability needs to be taught early on and become the norm.’
Laura’s own first attempt at making a sustainable film was her short film Candy Floss. She started by sending a sustainability memo to cast and crew to inform everyone that the set would be sustainable and what everyone would be doing to achieve that.
‘I bought everyone a reusable water bottle and coffee cup and thought about all the changes we could make to make the film sustainable. For example, your cast and crew might not always want to drink water or tea and coffee, so I got cans of fizzy drinks in bulk which turned out to be cheap and cans are so much easier to recycle than plastic bottles. We had separate bins and a few of us spent the last evening going through the trash to separate what hadn't been separated yet. We also carpooled and used LED lights.’
There are still many things that Laura wishes had gone better. For example, characters in a scene were eating chips from Styrofoam boxes that should have been replaced with paper ones. They also could have spent more time getting costumes from second-hand shops, although they did end up donating most of what they bought.
‘I learned a lot from greening our film, and I know how to do things differently for the next time. I also suggest getting someone on set as an eco-manager.’
(As seen left to right: Writer Melissa Fielding , 1st AD Willem Evans, Production Assistant Katie )
To continue her career as a sustainable filmmaker, Laura has recently set up a company called Green Film Productions. The aim of the company is to make films with zero carbon emissions by making them as sustainable as possible and off-setting the rest. The two of the most important things both off and on screen at Green Film Productions are diversity and environment.
‘I believe that no one has the right to pollute the earth, even though so many people do.’
Laura suggests that any young filmmakers who don’t know where to start should eliminate single-use plastics off their set as a first step. This can be followed by making sure that everything in the prop department, wardrobe and catering is searched in sustainable options. Finally, you can learn more about energy use and how to make the electrics department and transport more sustainable.
‘I think that as filmmaking is a polluting activity, we as filmmakers need to take extra measures to be sustainable. I love that sustainability is becoming important in the film industry, but I also wonder why it hasn't always been important.’
As Laura says, making sure that your film is sustainable may seem like a boring job, but it is actually very fun ‘and you can be really creative’.
on Instagram: @thegreenfilmmaker
on her website: www.greenfilmproductions.co.uk