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Action Guide

The Green Production Plan

Once pre-production has begun, the incredible momentum of planning for production makes it difficult to incorporate many climate action ideas if they haven’t already been planned for, and if department leads don’t have sustainability on their agenda. The key to sustainable production is planning, and planning early.
Sustainability is a way to level-up and modernize your production. Sustainability increases efficiency, reduces physical and financial waste and helps create a better environment and workplace. In practice, it’s no different than planning for health & safety risks like COVID-19,  or other challenges producers face when planning to mount a production. Like many things, it can be simple to say but hard to do.

Planning for sustainability should ideally begin before you get a green light and when creative and budgets are being considered.

If you’re already on the pre-production rollercoaster,  don’t despair!  It’s never too late to start. Tackle low hanging fruit that is easy and manageable. Hold some meetings, solicit ideas, engage your teams in coming up with solutions and they may surprise you with what can be done even on short notice.

What is a Green Production Plan?

Sustainability plans are a contractual requirement for some Canadian content productions, including those working with CBC or Telefilm. However, creating a plan is more than a box-ticking exercise, it benefits the producer by identifying:
  • high-emitting and high-waste activities and opportunities for reductions;
  • opportunities for budget-saves and innovation;
  • climate risks; and
  • communication and engagement opportunities
A Green Production Plan (aka: sustainability plan) outlines the key environmental goals and actions you plan to take towards achieving them.A plan is also a great tool that a producer can use to communicate their sustainability intentions, policies and processes with the funders, production and creative teams, as well as providing a mechanism to track your progress throughout production.

Elements of a green production plan

  • Creative Elements: a summary of the environmental elements or themes contained in the script or creative plan, including what sustainability behaviours or solutions will be showcased or normalized on screen;
  • Sustainability Team: The makeup of the sustainability team, including who will be responsible for sustainability on the production and their qualifications / experience; 
  • Carbon Accounting: Whether the production will produce a carbon footprint and the plan regarding carbon accounting, including  measurement boundaries and timelines and the calculator being used. 
  • Carbon Budget: Details of the carbon budget, if applicable.  
  • Emissions Targets and Reduction Plan: A description of how the production will reduce emissions in key areas such as fuel and energy consumption with a particular focus on the major sources of carbon emissions based on benchmarks from the applicable genre or prior footprints if available (e.g.: from a prior season); 
  • Waste reduction plan: A description of how the production will address circularity, sustainable sourcing,  reducing consumption and reducing or diverting waste, with a particular focus on your ‘exit plan’ for major sources of waste based on benchmarks from the applicable genre or prior waste footprints if available;
  • Communications & Engagement: An outline of the production’s communications plans around sustainability and how cast and crew, suppliers and other interest-holders will be engaged and training provided to team members;
  • Sustainability Policies: A summary of applicable sustainability policies for the production. 
  • Climate Risks: A description of climate-related risks that the production may face and anything being done to prepare for or mitigate them. 
  • Certifications: The details of any certification that the production intends to qualify for. 
  • Marketing / Ancillary content:  Details of any marketing efforts that will include sustainability (e.g.: EPK’s, social media, etc) and ancillary or second-screen content that will advance or build on sustainability themes, where applicable. 
  • Community Benefits: Details of any planned community benefits from the production. 

The Importance of "Enough Time"

This Guide could have been called “Start Planning Early” as this point is hard to over-emphasise. The ideal time to start planning is during development and before formal pre-production starts. Starting early will also give you time to build buy-in from the rest of your team so that you can introduce new or different practices into your production’s workflow.

To support your sustainability goals, department heads will need two things from producers:

Sourcing second-hand wardrobe, props or set materials takes more time than buying it new. Likewise, sustainable-strikes, re-homing items post-wrap also takes more time than sending it to landfill. Budget for the extra time so that department heads have the time they needto make sustainable choices.  

Clear Instructions.
Targets should be specific and measurable. (“Cut fuel costs by 25%” is more actionable and measurable than “be more sustainable”) Direct them to best practices resources and provide them with a list of the data required for the production’s carbon footprint. Provide them with a copy of the production’s sustainability policies

The Green Wrap Report

The impact of a production’s efforts to be sustainable cannot fully be captured in a carbon footprint. An effective Wrap Report is a final assessment of how the production actually performed against the sustainability plan.

What to include in a wrap report

  • The final carbon footprint of the project and an assessment of how your footprint compares to your carbon budget, if applicable;
  • A summary of actions taken and their impacts, including an assessment of what worked and what didn’t. This is your opportunity to really tell your sustainability story. Collect stories and anecdotes from the team as real-stories are ‘sticky’ and shareable.
  • Waste diversion report, if available
  • A summary of any on-screen actions undertaken; 
  • An assessment of the budget impact associated with sustainability practices;
  • Climate-related events that impacted production (e.g.: injuries, health & safety incidents, production interruptions) and their associated costs.  
  • A report on cast and crew engagement on sustainability efforts.;
  • A report on any community engagement or benefits; 
  • If the production shoot was outside of urban areas or in environmentally sensitive locations, consider including a summary of any environmental impacts that the production had on the environment and mitigation efforts undertaken; and 
  • Suggestions for future actions and lessons learned. What would you recommend for future productions?
For animation studios or other production companies that choose to measure their carbon footprint on an annual (vs. project) basis, ensure that an annual assessment and report are completed with similar information across all the productions in the applicable year.
Further reading