Hollywood productions have been criticized as one of California’s biggest polluters and the concept applies to any place where films are made. Some studios are making efforts to become more environmentally friendly and are working on changing their image.
Examples of the steps they have taken are:
- diverting millions of pounds of sets and solid waste from landfills
- recycling, composting and carpooling
- using massive mobile solar arrays to generate power without noise or emissions. The Environmental Media Association and Pure Power Distribution have become partners in promoting solar use in future films. Warner Brothers rented solar arrays for the base camp for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception (2010) and Steve Carrell’s Evan Almighty (2007). They powered base camps for Valentine’s Day (2010) and Funny People (2009).
- Jonah Hex (2010), based on the DC Comics classic with Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex, “a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort who can track anyone… and anything”, used a Mobile Solar Power System for part of its base camp power in New Orleans. Solar generators have also been used by television series like Criminal Minds and The Mentalist, rock concerts like Sasquatch, the ESPY Awards and LA Marathon, the Teen Choice Awards, and others. Jonny Romano, Manager of Sustainable Production at Warner Brothers, met with LA students to talk about Hollywood careers and explain some of the steps the company is taking to reduce its feature films’ environmental impacts.
- In Matrix Reloaded (2003), the second of the Matrix trilogy, 97 percent of set material was recycled and tons of wood used to build 100 low-income family homes in Mexico.
- Several studios worked with NativeEnergy to purchase renewable energy credits to offset their environmental impact. Filming, air travel, rental car and truck emissions, hotel energy, generators on location, shipping emissions, office and warehouse energy use were used to calculate CO² produced by the film and offset credits were purchased for sustainable Native American and Alaskan projects. Examples are Syriana (2005), An Inconvenient Truth (2006), and No Country for Old Men (2007).
- Director Catherine Hardwicke and producer Marty Bowen donated $15,000 of their own money to off-set the environmental impact of their film The Nativity Story (2006).
- For Universal’s Love the Beast (2009) documentary by Eric Bana, his company Pick Up Trucks Pictures calculated the film’s emissions from transporting the cast and crew, hotel accomodation and filming with Climate Positive and offset its footprint by donating 2000 trees to The Conservation Fund. One of the Producers, Peter Hill, said, “We love cars but love the planet more, and wanted to ensure we made a film in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Offsetting the carbon emissions is one of the steps we took to minimize the impact on the environment.” Director Tom Shadyac recycled sets and used bikes for crew members plus solar power and diesel fuels.
- Roland Emmerich, Director of The Day After Tomorrow (2004), showing potential climate change destruction and critical of Bush not adopting the Kyoto Protocol, used $200,000 of his own money for planting trees and renewable energy to offset the film’s carbon. For his movie 2012 (2009), in addition to buying carbon offsets, he used biofuel for the generators and recycled or donated all the sets to Habitat for Humanity.
Some actor/producers have used their influence to promote the environment in other ways. Robert Redford’s Sundance film festival promotes preservation of the Utah region where the festival is held and Redford added eco-programs to the Sundance Channel. Edward Norton got British Petroleum to agree to donate free solar power systems to low-income Los Angeles families whenever a celebrity buys one in the BP Solar Neighbors program.
For more information on how buying carbon offsets helps the environment, read the Native Energy website.