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Sustainable Filmmaking: Last Christmas

Last Christmas, November 8, 2019

Emilia Clarke (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson star for director Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Spy, Bridesmaids) in Last Christmas, a romantic comedy inspired by a George Michael beat, from a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Baby) and playwright Bryony Kimmings.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate’s barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart … and you gotta have faith.

While filming in London, the Last Christmas cast and crew took their sustainability efforts to the next level. They set a goal from the beginning to be as plastic-free as possible. They distributed thermal cups to everyone on set, which could be used for cold water on warm days, or hot tea on cold nights. Offices included recycling and composting, plumbed in water coolers, glasses, crockery and cutlery.  Paperwork such as call sheets, scripts, and production documentation were delivered electronically, with hard copies only issued on request. White office paper was made from 100% recycled content. Green tips and facts were put onto call sheets to educate and inspire crew.

There were many efforts to reduce the carbon emissions on the production. They used over 60% LED set lighting which uses significantly less energy than standard set lights. In lieu of trailers, the production rented hotel rooms while filming in the London City Center. Cast also made efforts to carpool rather than taking individual vehicles to set. When unit drivers were waiting for their next trip, they were given a warm place indoors to avoid vehicle idling. And when heating their stages, they used renewable diesel made from 100% used cooking oil.

The Last Christmas team also gave back to the local community. They donated over 1,800 lbs of excess food from catering and set decoration to City Harvest London, equaling approximately 1,500 meals fed to those in need. Props, Set Dec, and Wardrobe donated over $11,000 worth of items such as toys, clothing, drums, and furniture to organizations including Suited & Booted, Smart Works, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, First Days, The Children’s Society, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, and Smile for a Child. There was also a voluntary cast and crew clothing and toiletry drive, with items being donated to Whitechapel Mission and the Helen Bamber Foundation. These practices and more led to Last Christmas receiving a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Harriet

Harriet, November 2, 2019

© Focus Features

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Filmed in Richmond, Virginia, the Harriet team made great efforts to reduce their environmental impact during production. Starting in the office, the production team reused office supplies and furniture from a previous local production as well as the Virginia Film Office. They set up recycling and established digital distribution for scripts and schedules. When they did print, they purchased 100% recycled content paper. They also installed a water filtration unit in their office to reduce plastic bottles.

These practices continued on set where reusable bottles and water dispensers were provided to crew. There was very little set building on Harriet, as it was mostly filmed on location, but $60,000 worth of train cars, trailers, and set materials that they did build was donated to Governor’s Antiques. Additionally, the Construction, Set Decoration, Costumes, and Production departments donated thousands of dollars worth of materials including furniture, towels, blankets, and clothing to local organizations including Diversity Thrift, Habitat for Humanity, RSPCA, St. Joseph’s Villa, and the Virginia Film Commission. These practices and more led to Harriet receiving a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey, September 20, 2019

The worldwide phenomenon Downton Abbey, becomes a grand motion picture event, as the beloved Crawleys and their intrepid staff prepare for the most important moment of their lives. A royal visit from the King and Queen of England will unleash scandal, romance and intrigue that will leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance. Written by series creator Julian Fellowes and starring the original cast. 

While filming in the UK, the Downton Abbey production team implemented sustainable production practices to reduce their environmental impact. Offices included recycling and composting, plumbed in water coolers, glasses, crockery and cutlery, with no disposable food service products available for office use.  Paperwork such as call sheets, scripts, and production documentation were delivered electronically, with hard copies only issued on request. White office paper was made from 100% recycled content. 

Downton Abbey successfully reduced the amount of new materials used throughout filming. Carnival Films had stored sets from six seasons of Downton Abbey and the production was able to re-use and/or re-purpose most of them, which let to very minimal new set builds. The production issued reusable water bottles to crew upon request, and added a daily reminder on the call sheet for crew to bring them, leading to the elimination of plastic water bottles on set. The sound department used rechargeable batteries throughout production to reduce the need for disposables.

At wrap, the costume department donated $800 worth of fabric and materials to the Wimbledon College of Arts. Storage boxes and hangers were donated to Sewn Right and Freddie’s Flowers, and set decoration donated produce to The Hounslow Urban Farm to be used for animal feed. These practices and more led to Downton Abbey receiving a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

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NBCUniversal Awarded Green Seals at 29th Annual Environmental Media Awards

NBCUniversal had another record-setting year at the 29th Annual Environmental Media Awards, continuing to demonstrate its leadership in sustainable production.

EMA Green and Gold Seals were awarded to fifty-one NBCUniversal television and feature film productions, up from thirty-eight last year. The EMA Green Seal program recognizes progress in sustainable production practices, including reuse and recycling, sustainable building materials, LED lighting, food donations and more. This is the fifth year in a row NBCUniversal has received the most EMA Green Seals of any producing studio.

Below is a complete list of the NBCUniversal 2019 EMA Green and Gold Seal recipients. Check out the Green is Universal Film and TV pages to learn how NBCUniversal’s filmmakers and crewmembers are reducing their environmental impact.

  • Universal Pictures: Cats, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw*,The Hunt, Last Christmas*, Little*, Untitled UP Project, Us, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle*, Yesterday*
  • Focus Features: Downton Abbey, Harriet
  • Universal Television: Abby’s, Amazing Stories*, A.P. Bio, The Bold Type, Brooklyn Nine-Nine*, Chicago Fire*, Chicago Med*, Chicago P.D. *, The Enemy Within*, FBI, Good Girls, The Good Place*, I Feel Bad, The InBetween*, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Marlon, Midnight, Texas*, New Amsterdam*, Saturday Night Live, Superstore*, Tales of the City, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Village*, Will & Grace
  • Universal Content Productions: The Act*, Channel Zero: The Dream Door*, Dirty John, Happy!, Homecoming*, The Magicians*, Pearson, Psych: The Movie 2*, The Sinner*, Suits*, The Umbrella Academy*
  • Universal Television Alternative: Making It, Hollywood Game Night, World of Dance
  • Wilshire Studios: People’s Choice Awards

*EMA Gold Seal winners, a higher tiered recognition for top performing productions

In addition, The Good Place (Season 3, Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By) and Saturday Night Live (Season 44, Host Seth Meyers) were nominees in the Television Episodic Comedy category for their environmental messaging on screen.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

After eight films that have amassed more than $5 billion worldwide, the Fast & Furious franchise now features its first stand-alone vehicle as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

Hobbs & Shaw blasts open a new door in the Fast universe as it hurtles action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to the lush beauty of Samoa. Johnson and Statham are joined by franchise newcomers Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby.   

Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2) from a script by longtime Fast & Furious narrative architect Chris Morgan, the film is produced by Morgan, Johnson, Statham and Hiram Garcia. The executive producers are Dany Garcia, Kelly McCormick, Steven Chasman, Ethan Smith and Ainsley Davies.

Filmed primarily in London and Hawaii, the Hobbs & Shaw production teams implemented a sustainability program across departments on the film. Both cities had a dedicated sustainability manager to oversee the program and ensure that crew had the tools and plan they needed to succeed. A compost and recycling program was initiated both in the office and on set. Many of the crew were provided with reusable water bottles to reduce the use of plastic, and 100% recycled content paper was used where available. In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, heaters ran on renewable diesel made from 100% used cooking oil.

In London, the construction team donated a truck full of dirty polystyrene from their sets to Scenery Salvage to be recycled and reused. The costume department donated over $45,000 worth of wardrobe to TRAIDSmart WorksSuited and BootedWhitechapel Mission, and Smalls for All. The crew also held a clothing and toiletry drive for the Croydon Refugee Day Centre.

In Hawaii, the production donated office supplies and furniture to a local school and library, household items to Women in Need, and leftover building materials and hard hats to a local farm. In both cities, catering and craft service donated 1,400 lbs of excess food to local non-profits, equaling 1,166 meals fed to those in need. These practices and more earned Hobbs & Shaw a 2019 EMA Gold Seal.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Little

© Universal Pictures

Girls Trip’s Regina Hall and Black-ish’s Marsai Martin both star as Jordan Sanders — Hall as the take-no-prisoners tech mogul adult version of Jordan and Martin as the 13-year-old version of her who wakes up in her adult self’s penthouse just before a do-or-die presentation.

Insecure’s Issa Rae plays Jordan’s long-suffering assistant April, the only one in on the secret that her daily tormentor is now trapped in an awkward tween body just as everything is on the line. Little is an irreverent new comedy about the price of success, the power of sisterhood and having a second chance to grow up — and glow up — right. 

Little is directed by Tina Gordon (writer, Drumline) with a story by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) and a screenplay by Oliver and Gordon, based on an idea by teen actress Martin. The film is produced by Will Packer, blockbuster producer of Girls Trip, Night School and the Ride Along franchise, and his producing partner James Lopez and by Kenya Barris (Girls Trip, Black-ish). Executive producers are Preston Holmes (Night School), Hall, Marsai Martin and Josh Martin.

Filmed in Atlanta, GA, the Little production team implemented a sustainability program to reduce their environmental impacts throughout filming. Starting in the office, the majority of paper purchased was tree-free paper made from sugarcane waste fiber, and recycling stations were set up throughout the workspaces.

Little also implemented many best practices to reduce the amount of fuel they used during filming. They rented multiple hybrid passenger vehicles, used energy efficient LED lighting to reduce power needs, and when they were at their main locations such as the school and condo, they made efforts to use grid power in replacement of generators. Additionally, the production rented seven hybrid solar-powered cast trailers that were used throughout production.

To give back to the community in which they were filming, as well as reduce the waste going into landfill, the Little production team donated 780 lbs. of excess food, equaling 650 meals to those in need. Lumber and building materials were donated to the non-profits Lifecycle Building Center and Habitat for Humanity, and the props department donated bicycles to a local thrift store. These practices and more have qualified Little to receive a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

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Sustainable Production: Us, March 22, 2019

© Claudette Barius/Universal Pictures

After sending shockwaves across contemporary culture and setting a new standard for provocative, socially-conscious horror films with his directorial debut, Get Out, Academy Award®-winning visionary Jordan Peele returns with another original nightmare that he has written, directed and produced.

Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway.

Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family.

After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home to discover the silhouettes of four figures standing in their driveway. Us pits an ordinary American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.

While filming in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, the Us production team worked together to reduce their environmental impact. They maintained a recycling and composting program in the offices, and by using digital distribution for much of their paperwork they were able to use about a third less paper than a similar sized production.

On set, the production saved energy by utilizing LED lighting, and they rented hybrid passenger vehicles whenever possible. The construction department purchased FSC certified plywood for their set walls, and the sound department used rechargeable batteries in headsets and microphones to reduce disposable batteries on set.

The Us team made efforts to give back to the local community. The props department donated $7,500 worth of toys from their beach and boardwalk scenes to the Turning Point Foundation in Ventura, CA. Catering donated 405 lbs of excess food through Rock and Wrap It Up!, which equates to 337 meals served to the hungry. These practices and more have qualified Us to receive a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Welcome to Marwen

@ Universal Pictures

This holiday season, Academy Award® winner Robert Zemeckis—the groundbreaking filmmaker behind Forrest GumpFlight and Cast Away—directs Steve Carell in the most original movie of the year.  Welcome to Marwen tells the miraculous true story of one broken man’s fight as he discovers how artistic imagination can restore the human spirit.

When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp (Carell) and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery.  Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic.  As he builds an astonishing art installation—a testament to the most powerful women he knows—through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one.

In a bold, wondrous and timely film from this revolutionary pioneer of contemporary cinema, Welcome to Marwen shows that when your only weapon is your imagination…you’ll find courage in the most unexpected place.

The epic drama is produced by Oscar®-winning producer Steve Starkey (Forrest Gump, Flight), Jack Rapke (Cast Away, Flight), and Cherylanne Martin (The Pacific, Flight) of Zemeckis’ Universal-based ImageMovers banner produce alongside the director.  It is executive produced by Jacqueline Levine, as well as Jeff Malmberg, who directed the riveting 2010 documentary that inspired the film.

Filmed in Vancouver, BC, the Welcome to Marwen crew went above and beyond to implement green practices throughout production. Both in the office and on set, there was an extensive recycling program that included composting food waste and recycling textiles. By setting up water stations on set and encouraging crew to bring their own reusable bottles, production avoided using plastic water bottles throughout production, which is impressive and rare on a fast-paced film set.

When building the sets, the Construction team sourced FSC-Certified Lauan to build their walls, ensuring that the plywood was harvested responsibly. After the production wrapped, they donated 13 tons of material for reuse to the Sustainable Lockup. Additional donations included road materials to Riverview Hospital to fill in pot holes, hundreds of toy models to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Squamish, BC, and household goods to Habitat for Humanity ReStoreSalvation ArmyUnion Gospel Mission, and the Downtown Women’s Shelter. In addition to these in-kind donations, the cast and crew took part in the Vancouver Food Bank REEL Thanksgiving Challenge and came in 5th place with their donation of more than $12,000. These practices and more earned Welcome to Marwen a 2018 EMA Gold Seal.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots, December 7, 2018

© Focus Features

Mary Queen of Scots is a retelling of the turbulent life of Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” by Dr. John Guy. Queen of France at 16 and widowed when she was barely 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. By birth, Mary has a rival claim to the throne of Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), who rules as England’s Queen. Contrary to earlier accounts, and based on Dr. John Guy’s research, we see Mary as a capable politician and leader who wanted an alliance with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary fights to govern her unruly kingdom at a time when female monarchs are reviled as monstrous. To secure their thrones, the two Queens make very different choices about marriage and children. Mary’s reputation is under continual attack from her enemies, who construct lies about her sexual conduct. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within each court imperil both Queens–driving them apart, as each woman experiences the bitter cost of power.

Filmed in the United Kingdom, the Mary Queen of Scots production team implemented a sustainability program to reduce their environmental impacts throughout filming. In addition to setting up a comprehensive recycling program in their offices and on set, the office purchased 100% recycled content paper and used electronic distribution for a significant amount of their paperwork. Many office and construction materials were passed onto them from the Universal Pictures’ film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Reusable water bottles were distributed to crew at the start of production, which helped reduce the amount of plastic water bottles to less than 900 bottles for the entirety of production. The Sound Department used nearly all 99.9% rechargeable batteries throughout the entire film, providing cost savings and avoiding the use of hundreds of single use batteries.

To support the community and keep items from going into the landfill, Mary Queen of Scots found opportunities to donate materials locally. The Props Department donated 10 boxes of props and furniture to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. Production donated historical research books, clothing, and shoes to the Sam Beare Hospice shop, and any non-perishable food from the film was donated to Runnymede Foodbank. The film’s director, Josie Rourke, donated 112 trees to Trees for Life on behalf of the cast and crew, to be planted in the Scottish Highlands, one of the filming locations in the movie. Mary Queen of Scots received a 2018 EMA Gold Seal for their behind-the-scenes environmental efforts.

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Sustainable Filmmaking: Johnny English Strikes Again

Johnny English Stikes Again

© Focus Features

Johnny English Strikes Again is the third installment of the Johnny English comedy series, with Rowan Atkinson returning as the much loved accidental secret agent. The new adventure begins when a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all active undercover agents in Britain, leaving Johnny English as the Secret Service’s last hope. Called out of retirement, English dives head first into action with the mission to find the mastermind hacker. As a man with few skills and analog methods, Johnny English must overcome the challenges of modern technology to make this mission a success.

Filmed primarily in the UK, Johnny English Strikes Again implemented a strong sustainability program throughout production to reduce its environmental impact. The lighting package on the film was roughly 75% LED, helping to decrease the energy used on set. To reduce carbon emissions from fuel, the production used biodiesel made from used cooking oil to heat their marquees.

The production office used 100% recycled content paper and crew significantly reduced single use plastics by bringing their custom Johnny English water bottles to set every day. The production team implemented a recycling and compost program both in the office and on set, including custom signage to help educate crew.  Combined with waste-to-energy this effort resulted in very little materials sent to landfill.

To keep things fun and educational, production ran a friendly green competition among departments for the duration of the shoot. The Wardrobe department won the official “gold star” for their green efforts, including their donation of $20,000 worth of costumes to the Trinity Hospice Charity. Catering and Set Dressing donated 800 lbs. of excess food to City Harvest, equaling 667 meals to those in need. These practices and more earned Johnny English Strikes Again a 2018 EMA Gold Seal.

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