Eco-Friendly Filmmaking: BFI Release Study On Film Industry’s Environmental Impact

eco friendly filmmaking report bfi

Data has shown that the average film production (with budgets of $70m or over) generates 2,840 tonnes of CO2e – a figure equivalent to taking eleven one-way trips from the Earth to the moon.

I don’t even want to start to think how much CO2e films like Gravity or First Man made then… the numbers must be astronomical. In an effort to help stop the numbers from rocketing up, the British Film Institute has published a first of its kind report about eco-friendly filmmaking. The hope is that the suggestions will be implemented by 2050, helping British film production transition to net zero emissions and fall in line with Government legislation.

A Screen New Deal‘ (a pun which I really appreciate), is to act as a “route map to sustainable film production”, and also contains case studies on five key areas necessary for film production: production materials, energy and water, studio buildings and facilities, studio sites and locations, and production planning. The data itself shows that the largest emission on film productions is due to transport, totalling 51%, with mains electricity and gas use at 34% and diesel generators at 15%. All areas which, the report suggests, have renewable alternatives, and gives practical suggestions in the case studies.

To write the report, BAFTA-led consortium Albert and Arup analysed nineteen productions filmed in the UK and US over the last five years. Its release is seen as particularly timely given that, back in August, the Committee on Climate Change published a report stating that the next year is a critical time for global progress on fighting climate change.

Harriet Finney, Director of External Affairs for the BFI, said that the report “is not the solution to delivering greater environmental sustainability, but it provides us a valuable route map for taking forward positive action.” Pippa Harris (Chair of the Albert Film Forum  and Producer at Neal Street Productions) stated that “this report is being published at such an important moment for our industry… We cannot continue to create films in the same manner we did before with no long-term plan for the environment around us. It’s time for our industry to lead the way both on and off screen and rebuild for a cleaner, greener future”.

With the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown shifting filmmaking processes, Harris is right – this report couldn’t have come at a better time. As audiences slowly start to flock back to the cinemas, studios have to start thinking not only more about protecting safety on set, but protecting the environment as well. With Host, director Rob Savage has already proved that films can be shot in lockdown and still be critically acclaimed. But, personally, I think I’ve had enough zoom-themed nightmares to last me one year for now. A Marvel film themed over zoom? Never say never.

Words by Harriet Metcalfe

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