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 some of the eco-accomplishments taking place:
2013 Current Releases
About Time, November 1, 2013
During production on the romantic comedy About Time, the film crew embodied the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Leased vehicles were hybrids, reducing the amount of fuel needed on the production. The majority of the set dressing and costumes were acquired second hand. Even some sections of the scenery were reused multiple times in different ways throughout the film. Upon wrap costumes and props were donated to charities and set materials are being reused by a local school. Throughout production comprehensive recycling and composting was implemented, resulting in an astonishing 94% recycling rate. These efforts and more resulted in About Time achieving a 2013 EMA Green Seal Award.
The Best Man Holiday, November 15, 2013
Filmed primarily in Toronto, the long-awaited next chapter to the film that ushered in a new era of comedy The Best Man Holiday took steps to lessen the environmental impact during production. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, recycling and composting bins were set up throughout offices and on set. Crew used reusable water bottles, significantly decreasing the amount of disposable plastic waste. Through the use of practical locations, construction builds were minimal reducing the need for raw material. These practices and more were communicated to the crew via “Sustainable Production Memos.” The Best Man Holiday is a recipient of a 2013 EMA Green Seal Award, recognizing progress in sustainable production practices.
47 Ronin, December 25, 2013
Filmed in Budapest and London, the epic 3D fantasy-adventure 47 Ronin made an effort to reduce its environmental impact. Comprehensive recycling was set up throughout the offices and 100% recycled content paper was used. Production staff and Construction crew utilized water filters for drinking water, replacing individual plastic water bottles with glasses and reusable water bottles. The construction department sourced previously used timber for sets and second hand items for structures off-screen. Once the film was wrapped, remaining bamboo trees were donated to the Royal Society of Protection of Birds to be used in the building of a bird sanctuary in the Essex Marshlands.
2013 Earlier Releases
Identity Thief, February 8, 2013
For the comedy Identity Thief, filmed in Atlanta, crew across departments took steps to reduce the environmental impact of the production. In an effort to reduce waste, crew members were provided reusable water bottles and catering provided reusable dishes for meals. If disposables were needed, compostable plates and bowls were used. The costume department washed wardrobe in cold water, saving energy, and used phosphate-free, biodegradable detergent. When dry cleaning was required, a PERC-free dry cleaner was utilized. Sets were painted with low-VOC and no-VOC paints that emit significantly less levels of harmful chemicals than conventional paint. These practices and more were communicated to the crew via digital “Green Memos” that listed the green practices in place, offered additional suggestions and resources, and encouraged the crew to participate in Identity Thief’s green initiative.
Admission, March 22, 2013
While filming in and around New York and neighboring states, the production office on Focus Features’ comedy/drama Admission set the tone for an environmentally conscious production. By engaging the various departments in the green initiative, paper usage was dramatically cut and replaced with digital communication. When paper was required, 100% recycled was used. Comprehensive recycling and non-toxic, biodegradable soaps and cleaning supplies were employed throughout the production. Crew members were given reusable water bottles and filled them at water filters installed in the office or at water coolers on set. With the help of local non-profit, Rock and Wrap it Up, leftover food from catering provided over 1400 meals to the hungry in NYC. For Admission, a limited number of sets were built, and when done so, they were painted with low-VOC paints. All set waste was recycled, with the construction department boasting a 91% recycling rate.
Oblivion, April 19, 2013
The crew on the Tom Cruise action-adventure, Oblivion, worked together to reduce the production’s environmental impact. Filmed primarily in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the production office implemented comprehensive recycling and purchased recycled content office paper. To reduce carbon emissions, hybrid vehicles were rented for crew. In front of the camera, the Sky Tower set piece was primarily lit with LED lights. Behind the scenes, the transportation department used a biodiesel blended fuel made from used cooking oil while filming in parts of Louisiana. Other departments also did their part to help the environment, including craft service, which offered organic produce, and the production supplied crew members with reusable water bottles to reduce plastic water bottle waste. With recent advances in rechargeable battery technology, the sound department was able to use rechargeable batteries exclusively in headsets and microphone transmitters. This simple step is estimated to have saved over 4,500 single-use batteries.
Fast & Furious 6, May 24, 2013
For the sixth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, the crew’s effort to reduce waste was taken to the next level. Through widespread recycling and composting, principal photography in the United Kingdom was able to boast a 95% diversion rate. Film sets and crew meals were not the only items that were recycled; used cooking oil from the caterers was picked up, refined and used to fuel the 4×4 pick-up trucks working behind the scenes. This is a great example of “closing the loop” where one not only recycles, but also uses the recycled product.
Throughout production of Fast & Furious 6, crew was kept informed by “Green Facts” on their daily schedules and sign postings stating their environmental progress. All of these practices and more were kept on track by the production’s designated Environmental Manager. In the end, a large amount of set dressing such as fruit and vegetables, clothing, shoes and luggage were donated to a London charity that distributes items to various local charities.
The World’s End, August 23, 2013
While filming the “Barmageddon” comedy The World’s End in the U.K., staff and crew made an effort to reduce their impact on the environment. By situating recycling in offices, workshops, and on-set, the production successfully recycled the majority of their waste – including composting 8.4 tons of kitchen scraps and food service products. When production wrapped, furniture, props, and costumes, including over 100 warm winter coats, were donated to local charities. Other green practices on The World’s End include the crew’s using rechargeable batteries, recycled content paper, and conducting an energy-saving campaign throughout the production office.
R.I.P.D., July 19, 2013
Filmed in Boston, the production of R.I.P.D. employed sustainable production practices throughout the production process. In an effort to reduce disposable plastic, a large capacity water filter was installed in production stages. As crew filled their stainless steel reusable water bottles, they saved thousands of plastic bottles from being used.
Many departments participated in the environmental effort. The lighting department utilized Universal’s more energy efficient Mac Tech LED set lights and both the Camera and Sound departments used rechargeable batteries in place of single-use batteries. Catering avoided using polystyrene and instead used compostable food service products. At wrap, set materials were donated to a local vocational high school and paint supplies were donated to a local church. Throughout production, the office used 100% recycled content paper and communicated R.I.P.D.’s environmental initiative through “Green Memos” to the crew.
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.