SUSTAINABLE FILMMAKING TIPS
There are quite a few different things that you can do to keep your film production sustainable and ethical, depending on how far you want to or are able to go.
Here’s a little list of some tips and ideas on what you can try out to make your next film (or any other similar production) more eco-conscious!
Psychology shows that if you decide that a plan will go a certain way, it pretty much becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, if you want to have a green set, start by announcing it, talking to your team about it and sharing this idea with others. That way you will inspire your cast and crew to get involved and will also set some expectations to others that you will be motivated to fulfil.
The camera and sound departments will be using lots of batteries during a production, so a good idea is to invest in rechargeable batteries. This will not only minimise the amount of batteries getting disposed afterwards but will also save money.
As for lighting, choose sustainable light options, such as LED lights that will help to save energy, require fewer people to work on them and no colour gels for their special effects.
Finally, make sure to switch off any equipment when not in use, such as during the lunch break.
Most film projects begin and end with endless piles of paper. Scripts, contracts, call sheets, shot lists, log sheets and so much more – and all of that requires lots of printing. Make sure to print exactly as much as you need, check with your team who needs what printed and don’t print too many copies if they won’t be used. And do your research on sustainable printing options, like printing on recycled paper!
Furthermore, think carefully if you even need to print something or if instead it could just be read/updated/checked digitally.
My tip: I’ve just printed the scripts for Limerence using The Sustainable Print Company which supports multiple sustainable values.
Don’t buy plastic bottles every day for ever crew and cast member. Ask them to bring their own bottle or purchase reusable water bottles instead.
Or, purchase large bottles or water coolers and use reusable cups to share them between many people. If you’re filming indoors, check if the tap water is drinkable or maybe bring a water filter with you to use it instead of buying water.
Firstly, don’t litter. If you film outdoors or on someone else’s property, don’t leave any rubbish behind you! Or maybe even take it one step further and, if you see trash on your set, be it from yourself or someone else, pick it up. Leave the place better than it was when you arrived.
Separate all your rubbish in recyclable and non-recyclable waste that you can then organise in appropriate bins.
If you have compost at home or if you have access to one somewhere else, collect the food waste and dispose it in the compost or at least in a food waste bin.
Finally, do whatever you can to avoid plastic because the one answer to help stop the plastic pollution is to stop using it! Source your lunches in zero-waste or bulk shops, make your own food, find local cafes or catering services for lunches – find other options to avoid food and drinks in plastic packaging. Use props that are made of sustainable materials instead of plastic. Purchase sustainable beauty and hygiene products, use reusable bags and cutlery.
When travelling to filming locations, do your best to use public transport or, if someone has a car, carpool as much as you can and fill up the cars.
If you are hiring transport, try to find an electronic or a hybrid vehicle and/or use biodiesel instead of traditional petrol.
If you want to take it further, identify your carbon costs in your budget. Use organisations such as Atmosfair that will help you calculate how much carbon you will be adding to the atmosphere by travelling. Then, you can donate to make up for your CO2 offset.
COSTUMES & PROPS
There will always be props and costumes that you need to get and design new and specific for the character or the set. However, there might be smaller items that are needed to just fill the background or add some final touches. In that case, you can always see if you or someone else already has what you need.
If you can, rent or borrow instead of buying. Or, make it yourself!
My tip: In preparation for Limerence, me and my costume designer have looked at a few vintage items we had hidden away, and we’ll be using them to complete the looks of some characters, such as my bag that I had completely forgotten about.
When it comes to getting costumes or props, charity shops are a wonderful place to start. It will help you save lots of money, you might be able to find some unique pieces and it will be a sustainable choice as you’ll be reusing something instead of buying something new!
Furthermore, donate anything that you won’t need any longer after the production back to charity shops.
My tip: Both Quadratura and Limerence have costumes from mainly charity shops and I didn’t even realise I had that many 2ndhand shops in my area before I started looking for these costumes.
If you do need to buy something new, see if you can source it from local small businesses or do your research if the shop you’re using has fair wages for their workers and uses organic materials.
Furthermore, when looking for your prop or costume, try searching for artists who create their pieces handmade. Shops like Etsy are a perfect place to find unique items and support independent artists.
My tip: We will be decorating a wall for Limerence with multiple paintings that are made by different independent artists that are either part of the cast or crew or artists I’ve found online.
Meat and dairy industry is a massive cause for many ecological issues, so minimising your use of them will be a step in the right direction. Introduce vegetarian and vegan options in your lunches, have meat-free days on set.
Also, be mindful of animal products in costumes or props, for example – choose vegan leather instead of real leather.
And, when filming outdoors, make sure to respect nature and don’t disturb natural habitats or wildlife.
So, will you try to make your next project more sustainable? This might look like a long scary list but all you need to do is make one change at a time. Take it slow, analyse your project and your possibilities, do some research and with a few steps and choices your film could be making a big difference.