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Action Guide

Business & Legal Affairs

From talent deals to financing agreements, compliance and reporting, legal and business affairs teams are an important part of a producers climate action strategy. 
As studios and productions pursue greenhouse gas reductions, environmental initiatives are showing up in talent deals and financing contracts, as well as government regulations and studio policies.

Talent and Crew Contracts

Artist and crew agreements can be an effective way to support sustainability goals and requirements, either through aligning talent green riders, or through requiring talent and crew, especially those involved in leadership positions, to follow studio policies and best practices, cooperate with data collection for carbon reporting, and other similar goals.

Talent and crew deals in general can be viewed through an environmental lens. Contracts can incorporate language that supports the sustainability requirements from studios or financiers, and from the producer’s own sustainability policies and goals.

A green rider”, such as the ones recommended by Equity in the UK or BAFTA albert is a schedule of environmentally responsible practices and obligations added to a talent deal. Green riders can be a useful tool for talent to communicate their values and influence positive change.  Riders can address almost anything, ranging from no plastic water bottles in talent trailers, requiring the use of sustainable make-up and hair products, providing sustainable transportation, or restricting the use of diesel powered generators.  

Talent deals and riders are also an opportunity for environmentally-minded producers who would like to enlist the cooperation of talent in support of their sustainability goals. For example, productions with sustainable travel policies can address travel reductions through talent riders, or directly in travel sections of relevant contracts. Other opportunities include food, transportation, or housing which can all be viewed through the lens of climate action.

Ensure that your talent and crew, and their representatives understand your sustainability policies and goals and consider enlisting them to promote climate action through EPK’s, social media, or behind-the-scenes content that promotes the sustainability work being done.

Financing contracts

Studios, buyers, distributors and financiers are increasingly adding sustainability disclosure  requirements to their contracts with producers as a tool to drive decarbonization of the industry, and in service of their own net zero plans and reporting obligations. Requirements range from the completion of sustainability plans, carbon budgets, to carbon emissions footprint reports and waste reports.

Producers should be mindful of these growing requirements as fulfilling them may require significant planning and coordination between production, business affairs, legal, accounting and finance teams, as well as the addition of new sustainability department crew positions.

Sustainability Disclosures

Larger producers, particularly publicly-traded companies will need to be on the lookout for regulatory disclosures that are being increasingly mandated around the world. Mandatory sustainability disclosure requirements are actively under consideration by the SEC in the U.S. and the Canadian Securities Administrator in Canada.  Even if your company is not directly impacted by North American or European disclosure rules, your company may wish to produce for a company in those jurisdictions who is subject to those rules.  As sustainability disclosures become more common place over the next several years, even smaller private companies may be indirectly impacted and required to add sustainability disclosures as part of their business.
“Committed to reducing our food emissions, we started offering more veggies meals (swapping out beef and pork for chicken and vegetarian can dramatically reduce food emissions). We got some feedback that the standard veggie meals weren’t filling or appealing enough. After some conversations with the caterer on how to improve this, he said he had been having similar conversations with other clients and had decided to hire a dedicated vegetarian/ vegan chef to his team. This really speaks to the power of letting your vendors know there is a wish/demand for more sustainable options. All it takes is them hearing this from 3-4 different people to really start thinking differently, and your conversation could be the one that makes them finally decide to make a switch.”
Angelica Siegel
Sustainability Manager, Cream Productions

Greening the production supply chain

Producers can leverage their role as a customer to prioritise sustainability in their supply chains. Preferring local vendors where practical can reduce shipping costs and carbon as well as support local communities.  Suppliers may have environmental information on their products that they can share with you, and all suppliers can be asked about the sustainability of their products and services and whether they offer sustainable options.  

Producers can play an important role in influencing the market for green options in the industry’s eco-system of services. If a vendor has new sustainable technology, consider piloting it and include mechanisms for data collection and sharing of results for mutual benefits.  Where sustainable options are not available, ensure your key suppliers know that you’re interested in them carrying those options. 

Larger companies may have, or consider having a code of conduct that applies to suppliers.  Codes of conduct or ethics should include environmental considerations where appropriate and mirror your own internal policies and practices.  Typically, the bar is set at ‘we’ll follow the law’, but consider whether it’s right for your organisation to aim a little higher. 

Companies that create and own original properties have the opportunity to extend their commitment to climate action to the entire lifecycle of their content. Use a climate-lens when creating exploitation plans and contracts for IP, including in distribution, licensing, consumer products and merchandising deals, second-screen and ancillary content, audience and community engagement plans, and so on.

Best Practices

Consider the following in your company and in your productions:
  • Include sustainability language in key talent and HOD deals and crew deal memos that supports applicable requirements and goals. 
  • Ensure that talent deals only include reasonable and necessary amounts of air travel and use lower carbon intensive modes of transport where possible.  (e.g., limit companion flights, private jets, prefer economy over first class, train on trips of under 4 hours, electric vs gas vehicles, etc.) 
  • Coordinate early with production accounting and finance teams to create a plan for carbon reporting requirements in funding agreements. Determine who will be responsible for carbon accounting and footprint reports and provide them with adequate training.
  • Consider how sustainability can be influenced in your supply chain through the lifecycle of your IP. Discuss sustainable practices with key vendors, including production suppliers as well as downstream partners like consumer products companies and distributors.