EcoMuvi proposes alternative methodologies to the usual production schemes that favor the reduction of environmental impact of various departments and activities
Film and audiovisual pollution
The film industry has never been exposed to the public in terms of production dynamics. More specifically, for the creation of audiovisual content. For this reason, it continues to have a significant impact on the environment. In addition, it remains outside the center of the debate. The audiovisual industry tends to approach the work according to scenic needs, caring little about pre and post disposal. Many of the materials used automatically turn into waste after a few weeks of working.
This can be the case of sets, props, and costumes. Specific resources used can lead to a degradation of an area and its biodiversity. Some productions do not take into account the environment in which they work. The presence of people, animals or nature may characterize this. In addition to the expenditure of resources, carbon emissions are also important to address.
Logistics and transportation often drive much of these. There is awareness of a need for change with respect to established and obsolete dynamics. However, there is a limited number of policies in government, often represented by guidelines and suggestions rather than laws.
The analysis of the production phases
There are feasible actions which could reduce the impact. This includes calculating in advance the resources which they need. Additionally, programming different methods of development for the various production phases. There are some consulting companies, such as EcoMuvi, which are going towards the non-profit assessment.
This supports production companies during and post production with a view to reduce environmental impact. EcoMuvi manager, Ludovica Chiarini, explains how through normative and technical references it is possible to define a protocol of action. This allows the individual audiovisual production to receive a certification issued by a third party.
The action plan works to reduce the impact on the different departments
The protocol foresees, as Chiarini states, the possibility of scalability. This is as the company can deal with the production of feature films but also documentaries or independent short films. «At the outset, they conduct an analysis, involving all departments, of what the needs of the project will be. They read the work plan and script, trying to figure out what production effort is needed. Also, where they will record, and how to manage the work responsibly».
The action plan works to reduce the impact on the different departments, starting with the classic categories. This includes the organizational aspect, responsibility and on the management of materials with respect to the method in acquiring them.
Additionally, they consider how to use them and how they are disposed of on energy management. On transport management and on emissions. It starts with these macro-categories, Chiarini explains. Then, the production department figures out what they need in terms of costumes, makeup, set design, and all the departments.
This also involves the suppliers. The management of internal communication is just as important. The needs of the professional must be met, fitting them into the production machine that already has special requirements. After the project starts, there are some readjustments to the changes, monitored and reported on at the end.
Beyond emissions, concrete operations on departments
Environmental damage is not only due to emissions. However, there are concrete actions that can replace the modus operandi of production houses to reduce their impact. This includes the costume and set design department. Regarding this, they prefer to rent items or to buy them used instead of new.
Chiarini explains that at the end of production, they consider donating these items to charities or schools and academies of the arts. «Design for disassembly is also considered for construction. And also in designing products to facilitate disassembly, thus avoiding composite materials, to recycle or reuse».
The rental is feasible for costumes, while more complex for sets. There is an organization in Europe that is trying to catalog and store sets for this purpose. «Another critical aspect is the management of certain resources. Speaking of costumes for example, they have to archive what ends up on the protagonists. Because one cannot risk having to continue the production series and not having the same clothes. For the sets, sometimes, there is a copyright when reconstructing specific scenes of the film or characteristic spaces».
The need for circular solutions
There are cases of commercial advertising productions that do not allow reusing elements that have appeared in other productions. A circular solution must be found to change this process. Another element to consider is the use of physical spaces and the biodiversity that populates them.
«A product is filmed in the uncontaminated nature to give the idea of this. If afterwards they damage, pollute, or they consume the resources available on the territory, it is not ethical. It is similar to when you go shoot in deprived neighborhoods and the local underworld bribes you to shoot. You don’t hire local people and you make them displace or you pay them off the books».
The protocol on social sustainability has not advanced yet, explains the manager. But it does guarantee, for example, the supply of textiles from ethical processing. As well as the possibility of redeveloping the run-down areas in which the company shoots.
The pressure on continuous content creation
The production of audiovisual content seems to have become a race to see who can own more and produce faster. One example is the work of giants such as Netflix and Prime Video by remaining external to the productions. This does not allow to have certain evidence beyond the statements of the same. Chiarini comments on this. On the one hand, in terms of numbers their impact is very high. This is because it is a continuous production of large budgets, great use of means and people. On the other hand, they may have resources for research and development of technologies.
This also means having the potential to implement them with respect to a single manufacturer. «Hydrogen base camps, for example, which could replace the use of generators. In order to have a high amount of hydrogen, you have to have containers of cylinders and make this exchange. With a mega mansion base where you stay three weeks to shoot Bridgerton, it makes sense to invest in it. If you have to shoot for a week in a remote village it is complicated to get the material».
Thus, project scalability remains a key element in analyzing the ethical and conscious success of an audiovisual product. The plus of these continuous productions could be the high amount of representation to convey meaningful messages. One of the latest cases is that of the film, Don’t Look Up. Netflix produced it to denounce the situation of climate change, Chiarini recalls. However, there is no content voted explicitly for this purpose as vague terms may represent the issues.
Lampoon reporting: is a sustainable cinema possible?
The audiovisual industry can produce positive effects on the social imaginary. Before working on the feasibility of sustainable production techniques, it would be appropriate to put current issues at the center. Lacking production policies by governmental bodies, certifying entities can play a relevant contribution being often accredited at ministerial level.
Final reporting on the work what is left to be done is critical, Chiarini explains. They report the operations to an accredited third party, through technical evidence, such as official documents, to provide certification for production. The certifying body makes sure that the documents are correct, also going to verify in the field through set inspections.
EcoMuvi datas of emissions, waste and resources
Unambiguous calculations are difficult to establish as different sets that have different needs regarding emissions or energy used. EcoMuvi shared some data in terms of emissions, waste and resources.
«Emissions and waste calculations are cumulative, calculating a reduction in direct emissions of 300 tons Co2eq since 2013. This is the year in which the activity began. Regarding waste, there is a decrease of 1,420 kilograms, with a focus on the replacement of single-use plastics. They calculate the resources with an average of how much percentage for each set they can reuse of the material acquired. It is greater than sixty-five percent».
Chiarini specifies that the institutions need to be update to data. People should base the reflections on the awareness of the audiovisual industry and the people who work. This is true on single projects that after a certain number of weeks, everything that has been used will no longer be useful.
Founded in 2014 to spread the principles of environmental sustainability in the working realities of the audiovisual sector. By analyzing the production phases, EcoMuvi proposes active practices to reduce environmental impact.