albert, in collaboration with Arup and BFI have launched a 'Screen New Deal' report. It proposes a step-change in the way the film production industry operates, setting out a route map to help the industry transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
Production and carbon emissions
Arup’s research shows that transport has the largest impact in terms of carbon emissions accounting for approximately 51% of total emissions for tentpole films. Of this 30% is associated with air travel and 70% with land transport. Mains electricity and gas use is the second largest contributor accounting for almost 34% of total emissions and the remaining 15% is from the use of diesel generators. There are renewable alternatives that could help the transition towards more sustainability. Taking a holistic look across the industry, this research looks at five key areas of opportunity for transformation and three corresponding interventions:
production materials – reusing materials, buying virgin materials responsibility and resource-efficient set construction;
energy and water use – energy demand reduction, sustainable energy sources and water demand reduction;
studio buildings and facilities – repurposing buildings, buying products as a service; and smart building management;
studio sites and locations – consolidated movement, wayfinding and communication and health and wellbeing services; and
production planning – collaboration tools, virtual planning and shared infrastructure.
A large proportion of materials are bought or made to specification and regardless of their low recyclability, synthetic foam and adhesives are popular whilst digital fabrication which could achieve similar results with less waste is not commonly used because it can sound expensive. Production studios are not involved in the procurement or disposal of materials. Materials left at the end of productions are recycled where possible with some reuse but the remainder to sent to processing for energy regeneration from waste or landfill. Key factors limiting material reuse include short strike times; a lack of shared information on available materials; high storage costs; and the limited numbers of reuse service providers.
Online sharing platforms can allow separate productions to exchange materials with each other extending material use. Warehouses with logistics and quality control functions could reduce transportation and reuse network costs. Material passports aid ‘reuse’ networks providing information about source, specification and location as well as operational requirements. Material passports can be linked to production schedules to create stock inventories and help planning.
Energy and water
Few studios operate on renewable energy tariffs or generate renewable energy on site. Energy demand can be reduced also through green design solutions such as daylighting, natural ventilation, solar shading and solar gain, low energy lighting and using systems for heat recovery ventilation. The installation of micro renewable technologies mounted on roofs or building facades and wind turbines can help towards a zero-carbon economy. Trailers with solar roof installations, biodiesel or battery-powered generators, which can replace diesel generators in a number of situations, can help on location. Microgrids can match energy supply and demand reliably and are well-suited to production energy consumption patterns. Water from the mains supply can be reduced by installing rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling. Waterless toilet solutions could minimise the water demand associated with chemical toilets. Mains electricity and water connections could replace diesel generators and water bowsers.
Studio buildings and facilities
Changing requirements from production to production mean that studio spaces are sometimes under-utilised, however industry requirements may compel studios to implement flexible and adaptable design for new and retrofitted buildings. Flexible spaces can increase rentability and with the film industry evolving, buildings need to remain fully functional by adopting adaptable design principles. Sensors embedded into building components and systems along with smart meters can provide insights into energy use and occupation to help optimise capacity. The film industry is accustomed to renting costumes, props, generators and vehicles. This practice could be extended to temporary and permanent building components through product-as-a-service contracts with construction suppliers, whereby the supplier retains ownership and responsibility for maintenance. These contracts are available for lighting systems, air conditioning units, office fit-out, etc. Suppliers are incentivised to use real-time remote monitoring, keeping costs and downtime to a minimum. Modular construction off-site potentially, through a product as a service model, would help studios meet changing occupant requirements.
Studio sites and locations
The transport of people and goods to and from studio sites and locations is not coordinated efficiently. Signage at studios provides essential wayfinding information but there is no universal film industry signage for waste management. Physical wayfinding graphics are simple and can signal consistent waste and recycling points or health and safety requirements. Production is time constrained which often leads to incorrect waste disposal but a unified language across studios can further facilitate the adoption of these practices. Few amenities and spaces for rest or recreation are available at studios and as a result people are inclined to make additional trips to and from studio sites for their personal needs. The increasing availability of transport data from smartphones and satellite tracking can help predict transport demand, reducing vehicle movements and in turn reducing pollution and costs. Carpooling apps provide flexible solutions and transport distances can be reduced by integrating a production hub within or near to the studio site or location. Centralised catering facilities could reduce single use crockery and cutlery; permanent kitchen spaces would use lower carbon cooking fuel than mobile facilities. Work-life facilities would allow workers to be healthy and productive and enhance their experience at work, eg childcare services, lockers for online shopping, changing rooms for workers wanting run or cycle.
Digital tools can enable better planning and scene design. Communication platforms can integrate scheduling tools for agile coordination and will reduce paper waste but they rely on cloud infrastructure and data-sharing protocols to function requiring studios to provide sufficient network coverage. The data required by carbon reporting tools could be collected also by collaboration platforms for wider sharing and understanding sustainability challenges facing the industry. The UK has a number of digital previsualisation (pre-vis) studios allowing directors and producers to test concepts, storyboards, sets and scenes before shooting. This results in fewer unnecessary set builds, requires less contingency planning, and reduces time, material use and costs. Virtual reality can allow directors to collaborate remotely in virtual scenes. 5G connectivity allows more rapid footage transfers after shooting, compressing work timelines, and 3D capture of existing props can become asset banks, helping set designers extend usage. Technological advances in VFX, CGI and remote collaboration services are shifting larger proportions of production to virtual environments and these have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and waste but also have implications for the overall energy demand. Energy and workflow tools can influence efficiency, cost and energy consumption. Regional online location libraries providing sustainability information, building ratings and performance can help location manager make more informed decisions. Studios could provide shared procurement services to consolidate orders and deliveries from local and global suppliers making sourcing quicker; a digitised database including sustainability credentials for suppliers would facilitate more informed procurement decisions to be made.