Filmmaking brings unique opportunities and challenges for making operations more sustainable. NBCUniversal’s film division is committed to becoming a more sustainable business by identifying and integrating innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint. Universal Pictures and Focus Features developed a detailed Sustainable Production Guide for their casts and crews to give each department production-specific information, resources and best practices. Universal Pictures has also hired an executive to assist productions in implementing these practices and the shows utilize the GreenProductionGuide.com for additional resources. Read more about the eco-accomplishments taking place:
Steve Jobs, Select Release October 9, 2015; Everywhere October 23, 2015
Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes audiences behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. In alignment with Universal’s Sustainable Production program, the crew of Steve Jobs participated in both recycling and composting programs in the offices, on stage and while on location. Instead of discarding leftover food, the caterers worked with the local organization, Food Runners, to donate over 3,300 meals throughout the course of filming to Bay Area non-profits. Steve Jobs was shot on film, and the Camera Department joined in these practices by recycling their film ends.
Following production wrap, several departments directed their energy to giving back to the local Bay Area community. Construction salvaged over 100 set walls and other materials to donate to local school theater programs. These donations provided resources to programs that often have limited funding, and prevented valuable materials from entering a landfill. In addition, the costume department donated several racks of clothing and accessories to local non-profits such as Out of the Closet and Image For Success, and set dressing donated leftover furniture and home goods to Habitat for Humanity. These efforts show that through careful planning and dedication, surplus items from productions can be kept out of a dumpster and instead go to help those in need.
Straight Outta Compton, August 14, 2015
While filming the blistering origin story of N.W.A.’s rise as one of raps most influential and controversial acts, the cast and crew of Straight Outta Compton diligently implemented environmentally conscious production practices behind the scenes. Recyclable items were diverted from entering landfills through a comprehensive recycling program available both on set and in the production offices. Printing was kept at a minimum through the digital distribution of documents. Set walls were constructed using FSC-Certified plywood sourced in Los Angeles. (The Forest Stewardship Council engages in responsible forestry practices and their certification ensures that products, like lumber, are produced in a sustainable way).
Throughout filming, the production supported the food insecure population of Los Angeles through the donation of over 1,900 meals from leftover catering. This was accomplished with the help of volunteers from The Entertainment Hunger Project. At wrap, the Construction Department donated sixteen chain link fence panels to the Animal Tracks Rescue Ranch in Acton, CA. The fencing, which would have been otherwise discarded, helped further the non-profit’s mission of providing a safe and protective environment for animals that cannot return to their native habitats. Straight Outta Compton received a 2014 EMA Green Seal award from the Environmental Media Association recognizing their efforts made in sustainable production practices.
Trainwreck, July 17, 2015
Blockbuster filmmaker Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This Is 40) directs Universal Pictures’ Trainwreck, starring breakout comedic actress Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer). The comedy, from a script written by Schumer and developed with Apatow, is produced through his Apatow Productions alongside Barry Mendel (Bridesmaids, This Is 40).
One of the key ways to make a meaningful impact on a production is through adopting more environmentally conscious practices into daily operations. On Trainwreck, several departments accomplished just that by aligning with the Universal Sustainable Production Program. The transportation department successfully sourced a B20 blend of biodiesel and used the fuel in the base camp generator and main shooting generator. They also rented solar-assisted Porta Johns for on-location work, reducing the need for portable generators. Craft service provided water coolers on set in order to reduce consumption of single-use plastic water bottles, and the production office distributed information digitally to cut down on paper use.
In addition, the production gave back to the local community through working with the organization, Rock and Wrap It Up!, to donate 800 pounds of leftover food, or 615 meals, to local partner agencies. To honor their excellence in sustainable production practices, Trainwreck was awarded with a 2014 EMA Green Seal from the Environmental Media Association.
Jurassic World, June 12, 2015
Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure based on characters created by Michael Crichton. The screenplay is by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Trevorrow & Derek Connolly, and the story is by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver. Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley join the team as producers.
The production of Jurassic World, exemplifies Universal’s on-going commitment to environmentally conscious practices on feature films. The crew reduced their overall paper usage by implementing expansive digital distribution practices. Various plants and trees used throughout the sets were donated to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, helping to beautify a local non-profit. In addition, they spearheaded the first Universal Picture’s comprehensive production food donation program in New Orleans. This program reduced the amount of excess prepared food sent to landfills, and helped to feed those who are food insecure in the New Orleans area.
50 Shades of Grey, February 14, 2015
Fifty Shades of Grey is the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling book that has become a global phenomenon. Since its release, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has been translated into 52 languages worldwide and sold more than 100 million copies in e-book and print – making it one of the biggest and fastest-selling book series ever. While filming Fifty Shades of Grey, the crew made great efforts to incorporate elements of the NBCUniversal Sustainable Production Program into several facets of the production. An extensive waste reduction plan was implemented on set and in the production offices, which included the recovery of recyclables and food waste. The used cooking oil from crew catering was captured and picked up by West Coast Reduction to be recycled into further useful products like biodiesel. FSC-certified plywood was sourced by the Construction Department to build set walls. The Forest Stewardship Council’s third-party certification not only ensures that lumber is sourced from responsibly managed forests, but also helps to protect local communities and their surrounding environment.
Through working with Union Gospel Mission, an urban relief organization, the Props department donated over fifteen boxes of canned and non-perishable food items to help aid their robust community programs. Fifty Shades of Grey was also the recipient of a 2014 Environmental Media Association Green Seal Award. The EMA Green Seal Program recognizes film and television productions making progress towards reducing the impact they have on the environment.
Black Sea, January 23, 2015
Black Sea is a suspenseful adventure thriller directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald, centering on a rogue submarine captain (two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law) who pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As greed and desperation take control onboard their claustrophobic vessel, the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other to fight for their own survival.
Each department on the production of Black Sea worked to implement a variety of impact-reducing practices into their daily operations. The food waste generated from crew meals was separated and recovered for commercial composting. Recycling stations were set up throughout set and at the production offices. Used toner and spent batteries were collected throughout filming and sent to Recycle 4 Charity to be recycled. Money raised through this recycling program was donated to Trees for Cities, an organization with the mission of urban beautification through tree planting, community education and training in the U.K. (where the film was made) and abroad.
Upon completion of principal photography, the replica submarine set, on which the majority of filming took place, was donated to a local waste repurposing design center for reuse. Unused costumes and warm clothing from the Costume Department went to The Upper Room, an organization in the U.K. working with a variety of clients to help them achieve economic independence. The crew of Black Sea was honored with a 2014 Environmental Media Association Green Seal Award, recognizing their efforts in implementing more sustainable production practices and reducing their film’s environmental impact.
Unbroken, December 25, 2014
Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII – only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Filmed in the diverse landscape of Australia, a variety of sustainable production practices were implemented behind-the-scenes of Unbroken. In alignment with NBCUniversal’s Sustainable Production program, sets were designed with reuse in mind. When filming was complete on the Omori POW camp set, it was disassembled and reused for the Naoetsu POW Camp and Yokohama Port sets, thus reducing the amount of lumber and building materials purchased. Building materials acquired secondhand such as roofing, paint and lumber were utilized in the construction of the POW camp sets, breathing new life into the products.
The production implemented water conservation practices while shooting on the outdoor tank at Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland, recycling close to 1,850,000 gallons of water. Leftover lumber was donated to the annual Woodford Folk Festival located in Brisbane, keeping the precious natural resource out of a landfill while giving back to the local community. Remaining plants used to decorate sets were donated to the Fort Lytton National Park and Sydney Harbour Trust.
The Theory of Everything, November 7, 2014
The extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work.
While creating this story for the silver screen, the crew on The Theory of Everything also worked actively behind the scenes to reduce their overall impact on the environment. The lumber purchased for set construction carried the Forest Stewardship Council certification, which ensures that it came from responsibly managed forests. Several water refilling stations were set up throughout sound stages and on location to reduce dependency on single-use plastic bottles. Items like canned and unopened non-perishable food were donated when filming wrapped, to local charities and food banks; and a robust recycling and compost program was always at the ready for cast and crew. In addition, the Assistant Directors included a “Green Fact of the Day” on the daily call sheets to engage the entire production.
The Green Production Guide features an interactive searchable database of environmentally-sensitive products and services, listed by state in the U.S. and select international locations. The Guide also features best practices and tools like the Carbon Calculator to help producers determine their production’s carbon footprint on a comprehensive level.
You can help grow the Green Production Guide by adding your favorite green vendors. Suggest a vendor here and we’ll contact them to get listed. Or point your production’s green steward here to register for an account to add vendors.