What is Sustainable Production?

What is a Sustainable Production Anyway?

The motion picture industry goes through great lengths to provide the public with an incredible cinematic experience. The process of making a film or television show also requires an incredible amount of materials and resources.

Everything from the costumes, props, and sets you see on the screen to feeding staff, transportation, lighting, and power has an impact on the environment. The motion picture industry is historically notorious for its use of resources and adding tonnes of waste to local landfills annually. This not done with the intent on harming the environment but is an unfortunate bi-product of the creative process to produce entertainment for audiences around the globe.  

A production refers to the organization and operations that exist to produce a film or tv show.

Here’s where sustainability comes in.

Recently as the we become more aware of human impact on the environment, industries are beginning to look at their processes to strategize on how to reduce their impact on the environment. This includes the motion picture and entertainment industry.  

Carbon Footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame

Sustainable production means a production that implements identified best practices within their creative process to reduce their overall carbon footprint. This can also be referred to as “greening a production”. Zena Harris, the President of Green Spark Group identifies sustainable production as “incorporating practices into the production process that reduce negative environmental impacts, engage positively with the community, and align with the overall production budget.”

Sustainability is a concept that takes into account social, environmental and economic responsibility. It's the ability of an organization to manage transparently its responsibilities for social well-being, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity over the long term.  

Okay, so now that we have an idea on what sustainable production means how can a film or tv show become a sustainable production?

There are a few ways to achieve this! Many resources that are available (and sometimes free!) exist out there such as the Green Production Guide . These resources tackle sustainability by providing education to crews, directors, and producers and delivering tool kits on types of practices to implement while creating a film or tv show. These tool kits generally include a tracking system such as a carbon calculator.


You can also hire sustainable production professionals who are committed to reducing the motion picture industry’s carbon footprint such as the sustainable consultants at Green Spark Group. These professionals provide insight and expertise on what actions a production can take to best reduce its impact on the environment. They also come with a network of industry partners who are engaged in achieving sustainable production practices via food donation, material reuse, waste sorting and recycling and more.

In conclusion there is no one metric that defines a sustainable production. There are organizations out there such as the Environmental Media Association and NYC Film Green who third party entities that attribute scores and points based on best practices achieved by a production. When productions achieve a certain benchmark, they are eligible for recognition by these organizations.

Best practices are steps a production can take that have been identified as reducing environmental impact and carbon foot print.

But being sustainable can mean anything a production can do to reduce its waste, use of resources, and impact. In time, Green Spark Group envisions seeing sustainable production becoming the new norm for how we produce movies and tv for audiences around the world.