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Film Production

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 for additional resources. Read more about the eco-accomplishments taking place:

2015  Releases

50 Shades of Grey, February 14, 2015

© Focus Features

© Focus Features

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

© Focus Features

© Focus Features

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.


2014  Releases

Unbroken, December 25, 2014

© Universal Pictures

© Universal Pictures

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 320,000 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

© Focus Features

© Focus Features

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 Theory of Everything was a recipient of a 2014 Green Seal Award, recognizing the production’s efforts in successfully implementing sustainable production practices.

More 2014 Releases

2013 Releases

2012 Releases

2011 Releases

2010 Releases
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.