MPAA: “Best Practices Guide for Green Film Production”

UPDATE 2010: The Producer’s Guild of America website has more information about green film production, which includes the MPAA’s Green Film Production GuideNBC Universal also offers a pdf download with information about green film practices.

We’ve also updated the other links in this article, originally posted in 2008, as many had gone dead.


Film students, Hollywood producers, production crews, directors, actors! Get your red-hot GREEN FILM PRODUCTION GUIDE here!

The Motion Picture Association just announced their new guide to green procedures and strategies to reduce waste created by the film industry. The “Best Practices Guide for Green Production” doesn’t actually seem to be available anywhere, including MPAA’s website, but the announcement is all over the blogosphere.

No worries — until MPAA actually produces their Guide, you can access the California Film Commission’s GREEN RESOURCE GUIDE for film production, which was introduced last September. The CFC’s site also has links to Green Government Sites, and Green Office Practices as well as Green Film Production. It’s a great effort.

Back to the MPAA’s announcement. The press release quotes CEO Dan Glickman saying, “A new norm is emerging in which eco-friendly practices are best business practices.”

He’s right on both counts. Eco-friendly practices are best business practices, simply because waste in any business hurts the bottom line. And true, most people get it now: damaging the environment is literally the same thing as damaging ourselves.

“Hollywood continues to evolve as an industry that takes environmental responsibility, individually and collectively, on the big and small screen, and behind the scenes,” said Mr. Glickman. “Every major studio is getting in on the act.”

Let’s hope it’s more than an act.

In 1990 the studios formed a Solid Waste Task Force in response to CA Assembly Bill 939 addressing the wanton filling of garbage dumps across the land. It took them awhile, but last year Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Fox, CBS, NBC Universal, and Sony Pictures together recycled 20,862 tons of studio sets and other “solid waste” according to the press release, which they say is equal to removing over 14 thousand cars from the road.

From smaller DVD packages to solar lights to The Red Carpet made from 95,000 soda bottles at last year’s Emmy Awards, every major studio in Hollywood is collaborating to expand eco-friendly practices!

OK, good!

It’s about time. According to Ecorazzi and a 2006 UCLA study, Hollywood is the grossest air polluter in the LA area, which is saying a lot. It’s not all explosions and hair spray. Also cited were idling generators and idling limos, jet travel, freight. Add catering waste, habitat damage around the world, and just bad old-fashioned Hollywood excess to get a bigger, clearer picture of the damage done by the magicmakers.

I don’t have a TV, but I don’t hate Hollywood. I’m one of those geeks who watches the DVD extras: the story behind the story, outtakes, deleted scenes, and especially anything to do with production. Long after my partner has gone to bed, I’m checking out the shorts about CGI effects, costume design, props, sets… I love it all.

But. Hollywood is huge, excessive, over the top consumptive. The industry’s impact on the planet is huge. Hollywood is also the undisputed leader in putting on the glam. Some of the studios’ green efforts, praised in the MPAA’s press release, were actually pretty thin relative to what they could and should be doing.

The MPAA and the studios they represent are very very anxious about copyrights, or more accurately copywrongs. They haven’t given much space to green production guidelines, despite the fact that they will save money by actually practicing them. The more they do the more they save! Maybe a lot more money than what they keep for themselves when they bust Pirates of the Compactdisc burning illegal copies. I understand there are some good accountants in Hollywood who could help them figure out the ROI.

There’s just this single press release parading some small efforts towards undoing some very large damage. The MPAA doesn’t provide a link to its own guidelines or mention the California Film Commission’s, which were probably the catalyst for the studios jumping on the bandwagon.

So naturally I wonder about the claim of environmental responsibility, “individually and collectively.” On the other hand, every litter bit helps. They can only get better at reducing their footprint, as can we all.

“Hollywood’s film studios have come a long way since they started recycling in the 1970s,” said Gary Petersen, environmental member of the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

“Studios’ waste reduction and recycling efforts are having a real impact on reducing greenhouse gasses and they have implemented many other responsible practices that showcase how the private business sector can contribute to sustainability,” he added.

Hooray for Hollywood!  No really, I mean that.

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