Green is Universal | Film Production: 2012 Releases


Film Production: 2012 Releases

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 from our 2012 releases:


© Universal Pictures

While filming a comedy set in an environmentally conscious community, the production of Wanderlust made an effort to reduce its environmental impact.  On camera solar panels are used around the commune and off camera they were used to power the portable restrooms nearby.  Comprehensive recycling was available around set and in the office where recycled content paper and supplies were also used.  Hybrid vehicles were rented to transport the cast and crew.  The set dressing and props used on Wanderlust were primarily obtained secondhand.


Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

© Universal Pictures

While The Lorax was speaking for the tress in front of the camera, behind the scenes the cast and crew of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax looked for ways to implement the latest sustainable production best practices. To lessen the need for air travel, over 100 remote records across 10 different studios throughout the United States and Europe were conducted during production.  By utilizing a secure internet connection, the talent was able to record their lines and have directors provide instant feedback from hundreds of miles away.  By employing a new cooling system across their data centers, which only cools the machines and not the entire room, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax was able to reduce their energy consumption by as much as 40% compared with traditional methods.  The Paris office, which employed over 300 artists during peak production employees were encouraged to bike to work.  Bike repairs, including new tires, were reimbursed and additional bike racks were installed.  The majority of employees took part in this program to help lessen the environmental footprint of the film production. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax won a 2012 Environmental Media Award for best environmentally themed content in a feature film.


Being Flynn

Being Flynn

© David Lee

Set in a homeless shelter the FOCUS Feature film, Being Flynn, wanted to give back to the community featured on screen. Throughout production wardrobe, furniture, supplies and over 30 trays of untouched food were donated to the NYC Bowery Mission to help serve their population and at the same time, reduced the film’s waste. In addition, Being Flynn, worked closely with NYC non-profit and creative reuse center, Film Biz Recycling, to connect valuable used lighting expendables with local film students.


American Reunion

© Universal Pictures

In the comedy American Reunion, all of the characters we met a little more than a decade ago return to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion.  Filmed near Atlanta, Georgia, the American Pie team made an effort to reduce and recycle throughout the production process.  Once filming had wrapped, the production donated two truckloads of plants to a local school.  The Rockdale Career Academy was able to use palms trees, box woods, fir trees and other valuable plants and trees to supplement class instruction in the nursery and landscaping classes.


The Five Year Engagement

© Universal Pictures

The director and writer/star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall reteam for the irreverent comedy The Five-Year Engagement. The Five Year Engagement production team implemented the principles of reuse and recycle throughout their daily activities.  The production office was a hub for recycling cardboard, ink cartridges, plastics, paper and batteries and all paper purchased contained recycled content. Construction, props and costume purchased previously used goods and materials.  When filming was complete, remaining items were donated locally in Ann Arbor, Michigan to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Recycle Ann Arbor’s ReUse Center and The Salvation Army.



Battleship Hybrids

Hybrid Fleet © Universal Pictures

Battleship is an epic-scaled action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force.  In an effort to reduce fuel use, hybrid vehicles were rented for nearly the entire out of town crew and solar assisted portable restrooms were used.  While in filming in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, crew meals were sourced from local farmers, including New Orleans’s organization, Our School at Blair Grocery, which engages youth from poverty stricken neighborhoods to learn about urban gardening.  Battleship purchased produce from this organization to feed its crew, and then donated remaining food back to the organization for distribution among its community.


Snow White and the Huntsman

© Universal Pictures

In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar® winner Charlize Theron) out to destroy her.  Filmed outside of London, Snow White and the Huntsman, implemented a variety of sustainable practices.  While filming on stage, crew utilized water filters, reducing individual plastic water bottle use throughout filming.  Hybrid vehicles were rented for the crew and catering provided compostable disposable products and sourced food from local farmers.  Finally, sets were built from used lumber and materials from salvage companies and after wrap lumber was passed onto other productions to continue Snow White and the Huntsman’s effort of reuse.



© Universal Pictures

Three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone returns to the screen with the ferocious thriller Savages.  On the set of Savages, primarily filmed in Los Angeles, catering and crew separated their food waste to be sent for composting, significantly reducing the amount of material sent to landfill.  Reusable dishes were provided, but when disposables were necessary the show used compostable food service products, further increasing the amount of material that did not end up in a landfill. In addition crew was transported in vans that utilized low emission diesel technology.


The Bourne Legacy

© Universal Pictures

The narrative architect behind the Bourne film series, Tony Gilroy, takes the helm in the next chapter of the hugely popular espionage franchise that has earned almost $1 billion at the global box office: The Bourne Legacy. When filming, the construction department sourced used items and lumber from salvage companies and reuse centers like Build it Green NYC.  As the show wrapped many items, such as stainless steel and glass sliding doors, were donated back to the reuse centers, further continuing the life of the materials. The Scenic department used low VOC paints and aged lumber with natural products such as black tea and vinegar and donated remaining paint to Material for the Arts where it can be reused by public schools and community arts programs.  Through the NYC production period, The Bourne Legacy worked with non-profit, Rock and Wrap it Up, to donate the equivalent of over 2000 meals to local charities for distribution to the hungry.


Anna Karenina

© Laurie Sparham

Filmed almost entirely in the United Kingdom, the production of Anna Karenina used water coolers and filters to save thousands of individual plastic bottles, allowing crew members to refill previously used bottles. Throughout the movie’s unique “theater” soundstage locations, crew recycled and composted their food waste. This effort, combined with construction recycling, resulted in a 95% waste diversion rate for the production. When production was completed, a concerted effort was made across departments to donate materials where possible. Planning and careful consideration allowed a large amount of items from set construction, set dressing and the costume department to be donated to local non-profit organizations, elementary schools, community centers and colleges. The donations benefited the surrounding community and are estimated to have saved 35 large roll-off dumpsters! Anna Karenina is a recipient of a 2012 EMA Green Seal Award.


Hyde Park on Hudson

© Nicola Dove

Hyde Park on Hudson, filmed in the United Kingdom, used a number of different strategies to reduce its impact on the environment. For set construction, lumber was reused from set-to-set whenever possible. Particular effort was made by the caterers to source local, seasonal and organic food. The designers rented costumes, props and set decoration from local companies, with a preference on vintage pieces. In the production offices, digital files were used when possible in place of paper; when printing was necessary, 100% recycled paper and refilled ink cartridges were utilized. Hyde Park on Hudson is a recipient of a 2011 EMA Green Seal, which recognizes progress in sustainable production practices.


This is 40

© Universal Pictures

Environmental responsibility was a priority throughout the production of This is 40. Filmed in Los Angeles, crews made an effort to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles used and separated their waste for recycling and composting. Costumes were cleaned at a local environmentally responsible (PERC-free) dry cleaner and biodegradable materials were used for craft service. Construction used rented metal scaffolding to reduce the amount of lumber needed for sets and piloted a sustainable plywood material made in the USA. These sustainable production efforts were recognized by the Environmental Media Association with a 2011 EMA Green Seal Award.


Les Misérables

©Universal Pictures

Filmed in the United Kingdom, the producers of Les Misérables primarily rented hybrid vehicles for crew to reduce the amount of fuel consumed. Where possible, the large period sets were built with used materials, sourced from salvage yards and other productions. Throughout production, on-set recycling included the collection of food waste and compostable food service products, resulting in over 11 tons of material being composted instead of ending up in a landfill. When the film wrapped, set items that were too damaged for reuse in their same function were donated to an art reuse center where they materials will be given a second life. Les Misérables is a recipient of a 2012 EMA Green Seal Award.


Promised Land

©Focus Features / Credit: Scott Green

On Promised Land, filmed outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set waste was reduced where possible. In addition to standard recycling set up throughout production, catering took food waste both from food prep and meals to local pig farms, feeding animals and reducing the amount of waste material sent to landfill. Food that was not served and had been properly stored was donated to local Meals on Wheels programs. In an effort to move towards sustainable energy, crew members piloted solar technology. Locations tested a solar light tower and crew members were educated about solar as they charged their laptops and cell phones with the sun’s energy. Promised Land is a recipient of a 2012 EMA Green Seal, which recognizes progress in sustainable production practices.


Read how NBCUniversal’s current2011 and 2010 films have also gone green.