On the 10th of April the BAFTA albert Consortium summed up 5 years of their sustainability work in film and television. Over 40 people gathered in The Princess Anne Theatre for the event, including representatives from Pinewood Studios, British Paté, Green Kit, BBC Worldwide among others. The panel of speakers was even more impressive. Contributors included Richard Smith (BBC), Gillian Lobo (ClientEarth), Debbie Manners (Keo Films), Suzanna Dolan (BBC, Eastenders), John Robertson (Lime Pictures) and Jeremy Mathieu (albert International Manager). The event was presented by Steve Smith- Chair of Directors UK.
The scope of the event was BAFTA albert Consortium’s strategic vision for environmentally sustainable TV and film industries, what has been achieved to date and how the industry can act to lessen its environmental impact.
So here are some highlights we found most interesting and most memorable:
1. Did you know that on the set of Hollyoaks staff can take home used parts of set design?
Lime Pictures have been successfully running a repurposing scheme where talent and crew are encouraged to take home anything they fancy before it all gets recycled.
2. Suzanna Dolan shared clips from Eastenders where sustainability is written into the script itself. Eastenders reach a wast audience with their message of promoting home recycling, smart energy meters and reusable coffee cups.
3. While on the subject of coffee cups; after a great success of their show ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ K.E.O Films have something even more powerful in the pipeline. The trailer alone makes quite the impact.
4. Many questions where asked around the subject of sustainable catering, both on set and in production offices. There are some good news and some bad news. It has been proven that where there’s will there is a way and producers often request caterers to provide reusable plates, remove plastic bottles and use only reusable cutlery. On the other hand staffers will not be easily persuaded to forfeit meat for even one day a week.
5. And the best for last. BAFTA albert Consortium are working with the BFI and Directors UK to roll out sustainability initiatives and Carbon Literacy training in the film industry. The next step for albert calculator is the addition of international production calculations.
Green Spark Group is a consultancy group based in British Columbia, dedicated to sustainable practice within the film industry. The company helps implement green production methods and most notably consulted for 21st Century Fox on the set of The X-Files. The new series was filmed in 40 individual locations across British Columbia. Each location required lengthy transportation, long shooting hours, elaborate set construction and extensive electricity and fuel usage. Thanks to the knowledge and expertise Zena Harris, the president of Green Spark Group, the production managed to avoid over 33 tonnes on CO2 emissions and divert 81% of their waste from the landfill. They also recycled 100% of the metal and aluminium used on set.
Harris consulted with each department and used Green Production Guide‘s calculator to asses the environmental impact of The X-Files. But the most impressive achievement , in our opinion, was the recycling of 35.5 tons of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam and returning 5 additional tons to the vendor. This made The X-Files one of the first Hollywood productions to address this industry-wide sustainability issue. Foam in notorious for being difficult to recycle with many weldors refusing to take any foam contaminated with paint, metal wires or glue. Here, the crew worked with Blue Planet and Keep it Green Recycling to successfully meet this challenge and generate over $1000 cost savings.
The Green Spark Group vision is, in their own words : ‘To elevate the role of sustainable production and for all shows, regardless of size or genre, and entertainment organisations to integrate sustainable practices as a normal part of daily operations.’
Post production can be a lengthy and complicated process but there are simple measures you can take to prevent future post-production headaches. Here are a few of the most important tips we have found:
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Shooting digital gives filmmakers enormous creative freedom. SD cards democratised filmmaking as they are cheap and accessible to everyone. But the downside of this technology is the urge to shoot everything, to call action without much preparation. After all we can afford to shoot tons of footage, right? No. The more footage, especially the poorly planned, unnecessary takes you have, the longer it will take for your editor to make sense of it all.
In the ‘old days’ every foot of film was precious and so the preparation was key. The cast would rehearse, crew would plan each camera movement and each take would be carefully prepared so not a second of film was wasted. Now we tend to shoot a lot of takes before we even give actors a chance to get to know each other. Some indie directors tend to think that rehearsing the script takes away some ‘organic energy’ from the actors performances. But remember that acting is a job. Giving actors more chances to perform their lines and create rapport with each other can only be a good thing. Polishing performances before you call action can also save you a lot of grief in post production. Shoot only what you need after plenty of rehersals.
Find a trusted script supervisor
Your script supervisor will take care of all the little continuity issues you might have on set. When asked, they can mark the takes you liked the most and make a note of your comments on particular scenes. That will make it much easier for you to find the best performances and best shots in post. She/he will also make sure you have covered everything the script requires.
Micro budget filmmakers have to cut costs, yes. But cutting this position might cost you more in post then you’ve expected. Without script supervisor you are risking re-shoots and lengthy conversations with your editor, who might find the shots don’t match, there’s no coverage you of what comes next or no footage of what you thought you have shot already.
Talk to your editor before you call action
Preparation is key. I bet you’ve already heard the therm ‘shoot for the editor’ but if you are not an editor yourself it’s best to ask for some input first. Talk to your editor before you start sooting. Create your shot list with them. Experienced editor can tell you right away weather your planned shots will work for your scene. They might propose another angle, different type of coverage, or realise you’ll need more footage for a transition from scene to scene. Good editor sees the film in a different way, they’ve got their own perspective. Find someone who cares about your project and wants to actively and creatively assist you in fulfilling your vision. That person isn’t necessarily the most experienced or expensive editor you can find. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t ‘get you’. It’s your film and it deserves to be edited by someone who believes in it. If your editor helps you with preparation they’re already half way through the lengthy process of assessing and sorting out the footage in post.
Don’t leave a tail
Avoid running the camera for too long before the action starts. Don’t leave too much of a tail after you cut either. The editor will watch all your footage so just imagine having to watch several seconds of nothing before every single take! Depending on the number of clips you have that can amount to a substantial loos of valuable time in post.
The idea behind this company is not new. Green filmmaking is by no means an original concept. First carbon-neutral film studio in Australia has been certified almost 10 years ago. In Germany there is even a whole TV soap filmed sustainably and neutralised by carbon offsetting. The UK is no different. There is a lot of guidance and support for companies and individuals who wish to help protect the climate. Short films have been decarbonised with the help of Carbon Neutral Company, the Albert Consortium provides certification and guidance for TV and film in the UK and let’s not forget about Greenscreen– great initiative for shooters in London.
But even with all the available resources neutralising carbon footprint on a large scale is complicated, lengthy and often quite expensive. For small and medium producers it simply doesn’t have economical sense and we can only imagine that for large studios it might be nearly impossible.
So an idea was formed. Start with the basics. Simplify.
The Purityworks Ltd uses a minimalist approach. We believe that the process of decarbonising can be quick and simple. By “doing more with less” we plan to shoot and edit films and videos with carbon footprint so low it’ll be easy to calculate and cheap to offset. Working with Manchester based organisations we will continue to build on this simple idea of minimalist filming practice.
If you are interested in getting involved drop us a line. Don’t be shy.