Net-zero carbon emissions in film production are possible by 2050, according to a report published today by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit in partnership with Bafta-led consortium albert.
‘A Screen New Deal – A Route Map To Sustainable Film Production’ proposes a step-change in the industry’s sustainability practices, with the aim of net-zero production within 30 years.
The report illustrates innovations across five key areas: production materials; energy and water use; studio buildings and facilities; studio sites and locations; and production planning.
Global engineering and design specialist firm Arup conducted the research for the report, analysing sustainability data from more than 19 ‘tentpole’ productions (with budgets of $70m or over) filmed in the UK and US in the past five years to assess resource consumption patterns and carbon emissions.
It found the average tentpole film creates 2,840 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of 11 one-way trips from the Earth to the moon.
Transport accounts for almost 50% of the total emissions, with emissions contributed by air travel alone on a production equivalent to flying one way from London to New York 150 times, or 3.4 million car miles.
Energy consumption is the second-largest contributor at 34%, with 15% of this from diesel generators.
The report also explores case studies from other industries that could be adapted to work for the screen sector.
“Commissioned last year, the purpose of this report by Arup was to share innovation and knowledge and help kick-start a more sustainable production ecosystem,” said Harriet Finney, director of external affairs for the BFI. “Arriving now – just as productions restart and introduce new ways of working on set and on location – there is an opportunity to consider how we create efficiencies in our approach to materials and resources and learn how innovation is working for other industries.”
“As we emerge from lockdown we need to rethink our approach to filmmaking,” added Aaron Matthews, head of industry sustainability at albert. “If we simply pick up where we left off we will miss our chance to deliver what is environmentally necessary. The changes suggested in this report can’t be implemented overnight and some of them require a new way of thinking but grasping this challenge now will lead to improved efficiencies in the way we work, meaning more cash can be spent on what we see on screen rather than what we have to currently send to landfill.”
The publication of the report comes one month after the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change provided its own findings, highlighting the coming year as a critical one in global progress on climate change, and advising the government on framing a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic “that both accelerates the transition to net-zero and strengthens our resilience to the impacts of climate change, whilst driving new economic activity on progress in reducing UK emissions over the past year.”
The BFI, Bafta albert, and Arup are working on a series of events for the coming weeks focusing on specific areas of production explored in the report. These will begin with a webinar hosted by producer Pippa Harris, chair of the albert Film Forum.
The full text of the report is available on the BFI website.