London film industry to go green

Film makers and actors have vowed to improve their industry's environmental performance in a bid to make London the greenest city in which to make movies.

London claims to have the third largest film-making sector in the world – after Los Angeles and New York – and industry insiders believe that enhancing its green credentials will attract a larger slice of the market as an improved reputation coupled with lower production costs from energy saving measures will make it a more attractive option.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative at City Hall last Tuesday, actress Emma Thompson said the film industry was notoriously wasteful and the pampering of the acting profession made matters worse.

She said she for one would be happy to forgo endless bottled water and luxury trailers and that the reprinting of entire scripts when minor alterations were made was unacceptable and unnecessary.

While improving the environmental performance of any sector is to be welcomed, a study from the University of California has shown that film making has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any industry in the state.

Alistair McGowan, actor and WWF ambassador, said there was another reason that the sector’s actions could be beneficial – its unique position to raise awareness and influence others.

“In this industry we do have a chance to spread a message,” he said, joking that the fictional borough of Walford, home to the Eastenders, was the only part of London not to have a recycling scheme.

“We have to start incorporating, without preaching, a green message .”

The plan has been widely accepted by the major players in London’s film industry, and while no firm targets have yet been set, environmental auditing is soon to begin across a number of organisations in the city, with plans to report its findings at a major conference on greening the film industry later in the year.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London, said: “London is one of the world’s great film cities…but like other industry sectors, the production industry has an important role to play in helping to address the challenges of climate change.

“I hope this work will help raise awareness of the issues and provide practical solutions.”

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said: “London’s film industry is already world class but today we are committing to set a new green standard.

“Everyone needs to play their part to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change, but people working in film and broadcasting are in a unique position to inspire and educate audiences of millions with this vital message.”

Similar work in New Zealand, Greening the Screen, has identified lighting as the major contributor to GHG emissions with other problem areas including the waste produced from set building, damage to environmentally sensitive areas when filming on location and emissions generated through travel.

Sam Bond

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