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Action Guide

The Sustainability Team

Building a team is a core part of a producer’s role.  Applying a sustainability lens to building leadership and creative teams helps ensure that they are aligned with the values and goals of the production or studio from day one. 

Recruiting and Hiring

Leaders who want to reduce emissions and waste on their productions can consider adding sustainability skills to job postings and hiring individuals that have sustainability as part of their skill set or experience (or at the very least, are motivated to be sustainable).

Producers hiring for key creative and technical positions such as production managers, directors, cinematographers, art directors, designers, writers and transport leads should discuss their sustainability ambitions early on so that they are part of the creative and logistical planning process from the start. Producers, production managers and department heads in particular should have some responsibility for sustainability.
“We did a no-set-generator trial. We knew it would be a big challenge but the DP and Lighting team signed on when hired and we had great results. We shared our sustainability goals with the DP during early prep so he was invested in trying it and willing to switch up his usual systems. I think in the future making this part of the hiring process will be key - without it, the teams may be less comfortable piloting new lighting and power set ups. We used battery powered blocks (which ran all day with no issues) and on night exteriors we used Honda 7000 "putt putt" generators for the big lights (they give off much less emissions than a normal set generator). The craft truck required a tie-in to power to run stoves, so we asked the crew if they preferred the craft truck at basecamp with better food prepared and brought over, or close to set running on a putt putt but with less cooking options. They voted for better food at basecamp! Even with us driving the food and crew back and forth to basecamp, it was a success. This resulted in high fuel savings over 3 weeks, and savings on the cost of a main unit generator and genny op.”
Alex Jordan
SVP Production, Muse Entertainment

Sustainability Supervisors

Productions with sufficient scope and resources may wish to engage a Sustainability Supervisor to coordinate efforts across all departments. This position would be responsible for building a sustainability plan in line with the producer’s goals, policies and priorities, supervising the carbon footprint and reporting process, working with department heads and vendors, and managing the carbon budget in line with the financial budget.  Consider having this position report into a senior leader such as the Production Manager or Producer.

If your company produces a large volume of production, consider hiring or appointing someone on your full time team to be your Sustainability Lead.  A staff role can work across productions, bridge corporate and production teams, create larger-scale cost-saving efficiencies, and transfer lessons learned to each new production. This can help embed sustainability into company culture and make it easier to include sustainability considerations earlier in the development process.

Where your sustainability lead or team is positioned in your organization or on a production will impact how effective they can be. Who do they report to? What authority should they have? Do they have the resources or budget necessary to deliver the results you want?  There is no right or wrong answer about where sustainability should sit within a production or organization.  Wherever they are, ensure they have the power to bring people together, have direct access to senior leaders, and have some authority to make decisions. 
“There aren't many experienced Sustainability Supervisors out there yet, but I like to hire COVID Supervisors for the position. They make ideal production sustainability crew because the positions share a similar skill set. They know how to navigate production and they are used to asking crew to do something new, while being gently encouraging. They also know how to keep accurate data records which is a huge part of the sustainability team's job.”
Clara George

Building a climate action committee

Some companies or productions may be large enough to warrant creating a standing sustainbility committee. To avoid creating a 'sustainability silo', engage team members across your organisation in climate action.

A sustainability or climate action committee, with diverse representatives from across departments and hierarchies is a fantastic way to increase engagement and buy-in and it will also help your teams uncover new and innovative solutions.

Who you include on your committee is up to you, but here are a few guidelines:
  • Include representation from departments that are directly responsible for emissions. (Production, transportation, etc).
  • Ensure a mix of supervisors and crew to support the exchange of ideas. 
  • Move beyond the ‘usual suspects’ to ensure your team has diverse viewpoints. Consider creative / art / design teams.  
  • Ensure the committee has a clear mandate, access to senior leaders and decision makers and mechanisms to implement suggestions.  

Engaging third party consultants

When you’re just starting out, or when faced with a large production, sustainability can be overwhelming. Don’t despair! If you can’t hire or manage a sustainability lead, seek outside help where possible. Engaging a consulting firm can be a great way to introduce sustainability to your teams, build in-house expertise, and maximize impact.

Our industry has a number of excellent green consultants that work in most major film centres.  Many of them offer a range of services including sustainability plans, on-set services, footprint or waste reporting, and even provide training for your teams. Engage them early for the best results.

When working with third party consultants, ensure that staff leads are interacting with them so that lessons can be learned and carried forward to the next production.

Best Practices

Consider the following in your company and in your productions:
  • Make sustainability part of your hiring process. Include it as a desired skill in job postings and discuss your sustainability goals during interviews, particularly for high impact teams and decision makers.
  • Where practical, at the corporate production levels, appoint / hire a visible sustainability lead who reports to a leader with authority over the budget and operational decisions.
  • Create a climate action committee with diverse participation across hierarchies and departments.
  • Include sustainability as part of the formal  responsibilities for producers, production managers and/or department heads.  
  • Give sustainability teams sufficient authority, resources, access to leaders and a role in operational decision making.
  • Where practical, invest in your sustainability teams and senior leaders by providing them with professional development and training to develop their sustainability skillset. 
  • Consider engaging third party consultants to fill expertise and implementation gaps and train teams on sustainable practices.