What to think about when making a sustainable short film

10 crucial things to do to make your film more environmentally responsible

30 April 2020
The average carbon footprint of a British short film is 9.8 tons of carbon dioxide*. That’s equivalent to…
  • Powering the average UK household for 2 years
  • 5 return flights from London to New York
  • Eating 2450 cheese burgers
But we can change that. Creating an environmentally sustainable screen industry is an unspeakably exciting opportunity. It is no longer about doing 'less bad', this is about creating the conditions for on-going success. Here are a couple of easy actions to take on set to not only reduce your footprint, but also save you some money in the process.
1. Getting started
In pre-production send out a green memo to everyone on your production so they are aware of your environmental goals and how they can comply.
2. Go paperless
Have an opt in policy for printed documents. Most people won’t take you up on this and by emailing instead you can reduce your waste and paper costs.
3. Look at your transport
By using car schemes like ZipCar you can alternate between public transport and cars in order to save unnecessary car journeys. You can rent by the minute and there are plenty of electric options to reduce your footprint.
4. Go local
Look for crew and kit hire that are local to your locations to reduce your travel footprint and costs.
5. Find alternative accommodation
Opting for apartments over hotels will significantly reduce the footprint of your production. You might also save money by opting for self-catered, as well as encouraging extra cast and crew bonding over dinner!
6. Speaking of dinner...
Go meat free! The footprint of a vegetarian diet is typically half that of a meat eater’s. If you need easing in try starting with one day a week and always steer clear of beef.
7. Ditch the bottles
Cutting out single use plastic starts with getting rid of plastic water bottles. In a post Blue Planet World nearly everyone owns their own water bottle so ask them to bring one to location and embrace the tap water.
8. Location catering
Try and find catering where you can use china crockery to reduce your waste. If this is not possible ask everyone to bring a tupperware. If disposables need to be used opt for bamboo crockery to serve your catering on as opposed to plastic or polystyrene.
9. Go second hand
If you need set dressings and costumes have a look in charity shops and secondhand stores. It will give you an original look on screen, cut down on the footprint associated with creating new materials and probably save you money in the process. Win, win, win!
10. Reuse and Recycle

If you have a set build, try and use recycled timber to make it. Give it another life by donating to another production or even a charity or school at the end. If you want someone to do this for you, contact companies such as Dres’d, who will come and collect your set build at the end of production.


This is just the tip of the iceberg, so get creative! Head to wearealbert.org for more tips on where to get started. Get some inspiration from other productions case studies and find sustainable suppliers to use.

*This figure is the average carbon footprint of short films (16 minutes or less) that have measured their carbon footprint on the albert calculator.

This article was commissioned by BFI NETWORK in Film Hubs Midlands as part of their work to improve the sustainability of the film industry.