Support Green Filmmaking!

For the first time in relative history, we as filmmakers are in a unique technological position to help out our environment.  The ability to consume less in the digital world is a great thing…but we can all do more, including myself.  Even if it’s just an adoption of one of the principles listed below, your contribution to this cause will have more impact than you know.

Please join us in supporting “GREEN FILMMAKING.” If you adopt any of the below principles…please show your support by sharing this page on Facebook, and if you have a website, post the the badge at the bottom of this article in your site.  The badge will link back to this blog post. Everyone who visits your site will know that you are a filmmaker who does their share in helping the environment.

So what can you do to be a GREEN FILMMAKER?

TAPELESS DIGITAL WORKFLOW. The majority of cameras out there shoot to either media cards or recording drives. It’s important to consider this when looking at choices for shooting your masterpiece. Digital tape is made of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which takes thousands if not millions of years to degrade. There have also been studies linking this material to overall toxicity in ground water.  A tapeless workflow is not only environmentally friendly, but will provide a faster workflow.  If you’re worried about losing data…I’m not going to lie and say it’s not possible…but if you follow a good workflow protocol (including making redundant backups) then the chances of that happenning are virtually eliminated.

MINIMIZE PAPER. There are many ways to save paper usage.  The “old way” of film production using a ridiculous amount of paper.  This includes paper callsheets, copies of scripts, release forms, budgetary logs, storyboarding, media logging, etc. etc.  Today there is an electronic replacement for almost every type of production document ever created.  If there isn’t, there will be an app for that soon.  Yes…the iPad and iPhone (and now Android is catching up) has proven to be great tools for green filmmaking.  Add this blog to your news feeds and keep up with the latest in useful filmmaking apps.

  • Adobe Story (FREE!):  This is a very slick production tool for screenwriting and script breakdown.  It exists online only, and allows for numerous collaborators to work on it in realtime.
  • Google Docs (FREE!):  You can import a script into Google Docs and like Adobe Story, collaborate with others in realtime.  This is also great if you need to collaborate on other documents like budget and callsheets.
  • Callsheet. One thing you’ll notice when working on a set is that 90% of the cast and crew has an iPhone, and the other 10% has a very web-capable mobile. There isn’t much reason to print out a hundred callsheets every
  • Storyboard. Easily create professional looking storyboards and scroll through them on set with your talent and crew.  Export to PDF and email
  • Movie Slate. Save paper by using this app as your slate…since it logs every shot and can email it to your editor, director, media manager, etc
  • Clip Sketch. Draw overhead diagrams of your set to easily convey lights/grip/camera/ positions to the crew.  Display on your iPad or email to your Key Grip/Gaffer
  • Easy Release. Probably the only thing I would think a production would never be able to do electronically…get your release forms created AND signed.  Allows you to embed a picture too.  Store the files on your media drives for backup instead of printing
  • Office HD. Allows for office documents to be viewed/edited.

CARPOOLING.  This might seem kind of rudimentary, but I’m not talking about encouraging your grips to ride to the set with the talent…that doesn’t work very well.  What I suggest is having your AD direct your crew (via the electronic callsheet) to meet up at your studio or a centralized location and travel to the set from there. This not only helps in fuel consumption and costs…but helps your team get assembled on time.

SMOKING.  It’s awful to see cigarette butts in a once pristine area.  In places like Texas and California where the brush gets dry, all it takes is the ambers from a cigarette to get a fire started.  Designate a smoking area with the proper cigarette receptacle.  Ashtrays aren’t really good because the butts, ashes, and hot ambers are susceptible to wind.

CRAFTY.  It’s not very hard to make craft services a little more environment friendly.  Ask some questions of your craft services options and factor their practices into your decision.

  • Do they provide recycling bins?
  • Do they have a water station to reduce plastic bottle use?
  • Do they utilize reduced-packaging products?
  • Do they purchase from local vendors?
  • Do they select vendors who have planet saving initiatives?
  • Do they use biodegradable and 100% compostable utensils, cups and other disposable products?
  • This is a biggie for me…do they stay away from styrofoam products?
  • Are their products non-toxic?

ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT.  The idea of leaving and “ecological footprint” may sound like total devastation of a set location…but really anything left behind and/or alteration of the set location’s natural condition constitutes leaving a footprint.

  • Try not to use a tree as an alternative to a c-stand or camera position.  And never stick a nail or cut into a tree for any reason.
  • Setup your staging area and other gathering areas in a designated spot…hereby keeping people from trampling the natural vegetation.
  • Make sure when you do your walk through to ensure there is no gear left behind, that your crew is making a point to look for leftover garbage, gaff tape, stuff tied to trees, etc

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Let us know if we missed anything.  We’ll keep this updated regularly especially if more states and countries adopt green filmmaking incentives.  Here’s a few resources:

  1. California Film Commission Green Resource Guide Provides contact information for eco-conscious companies dealing in warddrobe, catering, tape stock, set design, office supplies and more. Of course it is California-based, but some of the the companies may have locations in other parts of the country.
  2. Film New Mexico Green Filming Program This website provides many resources for productions wishing to film in New Mexico, including a green filmmaking guide, and outlines incentives for filming in the state that benefit environmentally sensitive productions.
  3. EMA Make Your Production Green A guide from the Environmental Media Association listing environmentally friendly resources for banners and signage, invitations, catering, plant rentals, and more.
  4. UK FIlm Council Environmental Strategy The UK Film Council has recently announced plans to make London the greenest place to film. While the program does not appear to be in full swing just yet, this page outlines their overall strategy and links to a guide for greener filming.
  5. Boulder, Colorado Green Filming Resource Guide A guide from Boulder, Colorado about green filming in the area.


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