Newly started company BGreen has two co-founders, both freelanced producers that are passionate about saving the planet through changing mindset of all filmmakers. For this reason they prepared their own manual based on AdGreen and Green The Bid resources and trainings that is working with procedures that everybody can follow on their set. And they took it even further and chose one of their commercial sets as a model to show how these sustainable approaches work in reality and what challenges it brings.
Let’s look into these 9 steps where BGreen was made real on this shoot:
Communication before the shoot
Communication is the key, we all know it. On commercial shoot where time is always tight it is more crucial to put special emphasis on sustainability by talking to each one HOD separately and explain them why, what and how we can reduce our carbon footprint. Therefore we set up special meetings with those departments where we know the difference would be the most efficient if they follow the sustainable rules: locations / basecamp, catering, art department. And we really went through the procedure with them step by step making sure they understand our goal and we’re not missing any part of the process that can be easily “greened” too.
We also send an information to each crew member before the shoot announcing them that this production will follow sustainable procedure and we’re kindly asking them to cooperate with us on that and explaining “on set rules” that we ask them to follow: bring their own bottle and cup, follow waste management signage, place order of meal before the shoot by our ordering system, avoid meat as much as possible when ordering meal.
The deal memo was also included on daily call sheet together with funny green tips every day – f.e. “Repair your socks rather than trash them when they have a hole” or “Make sure you flush the toilet with big plug only when necessary”. We realised that these funny tips catch much more attention by the crew members than boring memos that they have to read bunch every day and it make people really think about these small details.
The quick introduction to the green set was also done by production on the tech scout and another introduction was done by the 1st AD at the beginning on the first shooting day too, so we really made sure that everybody on set was informed why and what we’re doing in terms of green set rules.
Going paperless is something that almost everybody is used to nowadays, so it was really easy to follow on this project too. Our crew is used to read all callsheets, shootingboards, daily schedules etc on their electric devices so we really printed only few hard copies of any document when necessary. We also encouraged people in production office to recycle printed papers that were still possible to use from the other side if they didn’t include any sensitive information by placing special signed box next to the printer.
Remove all disposable plastic items from catering
Even this sounds like an easy change, it includes several steps that have to be made to make this happen properly and with believed effect. First of all everybody from the crew was asked to bring their own bottle for cold drinks that could be refilled from big water barrels placed around the set and to bring their own hot cups for coffee or tea as well. But as we all know, people, even they want participate on great things, they often forget. So usually even you ask the crew to do this, you still have to have some bottles or cups as a backup. But on our shoot for this case still no disposable plastic cups were bought. Instead we rented re-cups that everybody could use during the day or for the whole shoot and that were washed everyday in the end of the day. This way really no disposable plastic cup was needed for the entire shoot.
For the breakfast and lunch we asked our caterer to serve the food on porcelain dishes with metal cutlery only. This is something which used to be common on sets not a while ago, but during the Covid times everybody got used to use disposable dishes at least for breakfast. Why? It’s given by the Covid rule that says the dishes can’t be washed in the same room where the food is prepared, which means in reality that the dishes after the breakfast have to be washed in different kitchen to where the lunch is being prepared. So to keep this rule we had to rent another kitchen room on location for washing the dishes only.
But still, even we had ceramic plates for all breakfast and lunch meals, there were some portions of meals that had to be served as take away. For this requests we again rented perpetual lunch boxes that were washed in the end of the day together with other dishes.
Another challenge was the self-service craft, where serving on porcelain plates was not possible. This was the only one place where disposable plates and cutlery was not avoidable, so we chose properly only those that were 100% compostable – plates made from sugar cane and cornstarch cutlery.
All these steps together made our catering really 99% disposable plastic free.
Avoiding food waste and reducing meat
We learned during the covid times that ordering food by simple google docs form is something that dramatically reduces food waste as well, therefore we’re continuing with this system. It means that the caterer knows in advance exactly how many portions of each meal he has to shop for and cook, so even he always prepares few spare portions of each, the food waste is really very little. This system also offers us the possibility to motivate people more to choose vegetarian option by putting emphasise on that and explaining that the carbon footprint of vegetarian food is much lower that the meat one. And we feel asking people to go without meat or dairy for breakfast and lunch isn’t such a big task when they can still get a delicious meal for both.
Reduce transportation carbon footprint by electric cars
As we were shooting on one studio location not so far from the city centre and also with a very good access to electric car chargers, we decided to try and hire electric vans for these production / crew vans that were most frequently used with no fear they couldn’t be charged during the breaks enough. Of course this shift would be much more risky when shooting on locations far away from the city, but with our advantage of having these charging facilities so close to our set, we were able to reduce the carbon footprint quite dramatically with this step. Of course, sometimes this isn’t possible at all. In those instances, we offset the use of petrol vehicles and public transport after every shoot.
Even The Czech Republic is quite well-known for people being used to sorting waste at home, it is interesting that people tend to behave differently at work, forgetting to automatically sort waste, with this being the last thing they think about when immersed in their work. Especially during filming, when it is all about time and people feel that sorting waste will take too much time. So our aim is to make the waste management as much “easy to understand” and “user friendly” as possible. Therefore we are always using trash bins with lids where you can put signage with clear explanation of what GOES in and what DOESN’T. We learned that the lid is really important as it makes people to stop and read the signage, so it’s much more efficient to use these rather than just open trash bins with signs on side or above them. We also never place single trash bins on set, because than people just choose the one that’s closest to them rather than doing few more steps to the correct one – so there always has to be an option to do recycling.
In the catering and backstage area we placed composting trash bin too as we’ve contracted composting facility where we bring all the food leftovers and compostable waste after the shoot and avoid creating methan that is produced by food leftovers thrown to landfill.
Art Department Re-use
Big challenge for us is the art department as of course Czech Republic is world renowned for the best quality and craftwork of it. Our supplier that was building all sets on this particular shoot is fortunately quite enlightened and he already uses chipboard from recycled wood waste for major studio construction work. However, one major challenge for us was what happens to all this material after filming has finished. We recently managed to establish an excellent partnership with an organisation called Art ReUSE, which temporarily stores all our used material and offers it to artists for their work. We are very pleased with this partnership, because most of the material we have taken to Art ReUSE disappears within a few days and is used by galleries, art schools or theatres, who then send photographs of realised projects and their thanks. And it was the same on this shoot – the manager from Art ReUSE came to the set during filming and we marked all the pieces of construction that would be easily disassembled and he knew his artist customers would immediately take for their purposed. The truck with all these pieces was delivered to his storage the day after the shoot when all the sets were dismantled and he offered them on his webpage just after to be donated to anybody who can use them.
Another part of art department is the Wardrobe of course. Here we’re already used to be quite efficient and hire as much as we can so the wardrobe can returned back after the shoot to either storage or shops. What can’t be returned is always donated either to one of our Sue Riders shops or to local branch of The Salvation Army. During this particular shoot unfortunately the war in Ukraine has just began and from one day to another a lot to refugees started to flow into our country or got stuck at the border between Ukraine and Poland. Therefore our production team came up with an idea to ask crew people that are every day at work and do not have time to prep any donation from their home stocks – to bring anything they wanna donate to Ukrainian refugees to our set – from clothes to sleeping bags or kids toys. Within 2 shooting days the collection grew up enormously so we had to split it and send one van with items like sleeping bags, matts, coats, etc to the border and the other part of clothes was taken to a storage where it was sorted by sizes and types to be donated to those that already have arrived to Prague without any belongings. This moment was very motivating and we decide to make collection like this on every shoot from now on seeing that people have a lot to give, but they just don’t have time and opportunity to do this so easily. So if we give them this option we can run a big recyclation route of clothes and other household goods from every shoot.
Carbon Footprint Calculation
During the whole shoot we were collecting all the data so we can see in the end of the shoot how successful we were in terms of saving CO2 footprint and also we were curious to see the comparison with the model of calculation if we weren’t doing all these steps… We were using for it the AdGreen calculator and the result will be published here soon too.
Although our main aim is to stop carbon emissions at their source, we understand that this will not always be possible. Offset is something that comes naturally for us with the carbon footprint calculation. If we have these numbers available it would be absolutely nonsense for us not to this last step and make the whole project carbon neutral by offsetting. For this project we chose one of the programs offered by local company OffsetujemeCO2. At the Bohemian Paradise known in Czech as Český Ráj, in the outskirts of the village of Karlovice, Semily district, Liberec region, the association ZAzemí Turnov prepared a project for the planting of a tree alley. The alley leads from the statue of St. František Xaverský across the field towards Janův Kout and contributes to the renewal of the 800 m long municipal field road a part of it will be covered by our offset.
Thanks to all these steps, our 5 days shoot became to be much closer to zero waste, lower energy, and carbon neutral project and we’re happy to get this experience that things can be changed if you really care and we hope to be good motivation for other projects in future.