Hollywood is no longer a place; it is a global industry. The entertainment sector has long branched out beyond the studio lots of Paramount and MGM for various reasons: more cost-effective production costs, cheaper labor, and more genuine settings than what can be built on an LA set. Toronto can fill in for New York or Chicago; Arizona offers all kinds of spectacular scenery.
So with a global presence comes a strain on resources and the consumption of vast amount of energy. Because of piracy concerns, actors are often flown around the world for movie premieres, a sharp change from 15 years ago, when films slowly rolled out globally. Lights and cameras suck up electricity, and most disturbingly, movies sets often end up in a landfill.
But the entertainment industry is changing. Long gone (maybe) are the days when a starlet of another era like Joan Crawford bragged about how many suitcases she lugged on a plane—and the tissue paper she consumed to keep those clothes wrinkle-free during the trip! Never mind all the chemicals she used on a daily basis to keep those clothes spotless—and the peanut butter and bacon fat mini-sandwiches she served at hors d’oeuvres were probably not organic back in 1971. Cannon-sized cans of hair-spray have been replaced by cruelty-free mascara.
One large Los Angeles non-profit materials reuse program, LA SHARES, got its start when its director grew tired of the waste that movie sets generated. And now with seed funding from large entertainment groups like NBC Universal, Sony, and Warner Bros., entertainment professionals have access to the Green Production Guide.
The Green Production Guide offers its users a searchable database of vendors with information about their green products, services, their production experience, and locations they serve. Currently about 1000 vendors are featured. Do a quick search for Louisiana, and a production assistant can find a rental service offering biofuel generators and LED lighting; another offers FSC certified lumber while salvaging wood from completed film projects. The site is comprehensive, suggesting businesses from dry cleaners to caterers and couriers.
The Green Production Guide also offers best practices, including carbon offset program suggestions, as well as tips on catering, make-up, and lighting that can reduce a film production’s impact on the planet.
Many of us have groaned from time to time as we hear about a celebrity gushing about a love for the environment or disdain for BP, only to hop into a limousine on the way to a chartered flight. The industry can do more than just accept compostable watches as swag or line up A-listers to root for clean energy legislation. For the $10 billion film industry, this is a solid start.