When we think of film and television, we don’t imagine the screen industry’s output beyond that of its movies, documentaries or series. The industry is one that prides itself on progressive content, especially in relation to environmental activism and climate change. Climate activists are receiving more and more exposure by way of television interviews and advertisements, encouraging viewers to reduce their food waste and energy-consumption and to stop buying single-use plastic or clothes from the fast-fashion market. Yet, we forget that these screen productions themselves often cause significant environmental damage.
“Screen Ireland revealed that their activities combined with those of the projects they funded or partly funded were responsible for a total carbon footprint amounting to 2,127 tonnes—a long way from the net-zero figure industries are being encouraged to work towards.”
Sustainability is a relatively new conversation in the screen industry, particularly in Ireland. Rising Irish talent has been burgeoning off the back of unparalleled investment in recent years. However, with this wave of expansion and growth comes a responsibility to adopt sustainable practices. Following their most recent report completed in 2018, Screen Ireland revealed that their activities, combined with those of the projects they funded or partly funded, were responsible for a total carbon footprint amounting to 2,127 tonnes — a long way from the net-zero figure industries are being encouraged to work towards.
With the aim of tackling this mounting problem, Screen Ireland welcomed the TorinoFilmLab’s Green Film Lab to Dublin on March 10. The three-day workshop invites selected film professionals and executives from across Ireland to learn how to apply a green protocol in their productions from sustainability experts. The selected professionals will consider their upcoming projects and curate a sustainability plan that aims to implement the best practices in terms of energy-saving, transport, accommodation, catering, set decoration, waste management, recycling and communication. The experts will advise them in their choice of production methods and technologies and they will be invited to analyse the real or perceived factors that currently stand in the way of implementing sustainable practices. The aim is to reduce the impact of their work on the environment while still safeguarding economical sustainability. If successful, each project will receive certification commending their efforts upon completion.
Established in Italy, the Green Lab is an international initiative with workshops held in various European countries. Their aim is to teach concrete skills that combine sustainability with financial and organisational efficiency. By providing networking opportunities, the Green Lab incentivises participation and furthermore, with its certification, it encourages completion.
Currently, the Green Lab is working towards having its certification recognised as a commonly acknowledged standard across all participating European countries. This would not only allow domestic productions to be credited for their efforts but also promote sustainability in co-productions involving filming in different countries. For smaller countries, whose emissions are dwarfed when considered in comparison to their larger counterparts, this collaborative effort to reduce carbon emissions across borders is vital. By promoting more than just a single project, the Green Lab supports Screen Ireland’s ambitious mission of encouraging an awareness of sustainable practices in the wider industry.
Beyond its workshops, the Green Lab also works to make environmental protection entities aware of “the audiovisual production sustainability theme”, so that going forward they make targeted and conscious choices when developing measures and regulations.
“However, the change that the Green Lab promotes needs to happen quickly and at scale.”
However, the change that the Green Lab promotes needs to happen quickly and at scale. Training in a practical environment is all well and good in theory, but its immediate implementation is key. Providing opportunities for professionals and executives to deepen their knowledge of their environmental impact enables the industry to work towards a circular screen supply chain that reduces waste and consumption, but it ignores up-and-coming filmmakers. Catering for young professionals emerging in the industry helps to establish good practices so that there is prevention instead of the mere treatment of environmental issues which are continually growing in number. The sustainable choice, both environmentally and financially, is to educate the future of filmmaking and make it green from the word go.