Imagine this: you go to the cinema to watch the next big blockbuster. You have your popcorn and soda in hand and when the movie starts and the action starts you start thinking “Wow, that’s a lot”. There are countless movie stars and elaborate sets, some of which we only see for a minute or two. How much did it cost and, more importantly, what is the environmental cost?
When it comes to carbon emissions and overconsumption of resources, the film industry is anything but impressive. On average, a film with a budget of over $70 million produces 2,840 tonnes of CO2. That’s a lot of money and carbon for a two hour experience.
Among these shows, 51% were transport-related, with the majority being land transport. This may involve transporting trucks of heavy and expensive film equipment from set to set. Flying or driving the cast and crew to and from each location is also financially and environmentally costly. To make matters worse, carbon emissions for production don’t just start at the time of filming. During post-production of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the team took a variety of trips to plan shots and scouting locations. This included a four-week trip to Barcelona, a cross-country road trip to the United States, and reconnaissance trips to Peru and Ecuador. There were also sets designed and built in England and Hawaii. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that’s a huge amount of air and ground travel for a single production, regardless of its $300 million budget.
Deforestation is also a huge problem in the film industry. Building a soundstage can lead to 4,000 hectares of deforestation. Lightweight plywood called lauan is incredibly sought after in the industry. It is easy to move, making it easy to build and then move sets. However, regulations surrounding lauan are below average. Usually, lauan is harvested from rainforests, rather than carefully controlled and monitored forests that would help regulate and monitor the film industry’s excessive lumbar consumption.
While the Green production guide has been created in recent years to minimize emissions and the environmental impact of the industry, it is just that: a guide. What the film industry needs are real regulations with real consequences.
On a more positive note, the Sustainable Production Alliance, made up of several companies in the entertainment industry, published its first carbon emissions report in 2021. The information was released knowing that in order to make changes, studios must first honestly examine their impact.
Netflix also released its goal of net zero carbon emissions by the end of 2022.
It’s not unusual for an industry to impose its environmental responsibilities on the consumer, but when it comes to the entertainment industry, it has very few places to hide. It’s going to be interesting to see how the industry minimizes its impact on the environment… or if it will. We may start to see a significant change in the way movies are produced, or we may just be bombarded with another form of carefully marketing greenwashing.
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