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Filmmaking — It’s a dirty business but ….

Thursday, November 23, 2006

No I’m not talking about sex in cinema but about pollution. Despite the fact that many celebrities lend their names to environmental causes – the film industry in Los Angeles was rated as one of the worst polluters by a recent study at UCLA.

Day After Tomorrow

“The Day After Tomorrow”

The UCLA Institute of the Environment’s study is “more illustrative than comprehensive” — meaning no science was involved just anecdotal opinions culled from some 43 members of the film industry. Movie production tops hotels, aerospace, and apparel and semiconductor manufacturing in traditional air pollutant emissions in Southern California, according to the UCLA study, initially prepared for the Integrated Waste Management Board. The industry is probably second only to petroleum refineries, for which comparable data were not available. The Los Angeles Times reported the entertainment industry ranks third in greenhouse gas emissions.

The entertainment industry generates a combined $29 billion in revenue and employs 252,000 people in the Greater Los Angeles region, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

A growing number of individual film and television productions and studios are taking innovative steps to minimize their effect on the environment, but the industry’s structure and culture hamper the pace of improvements, according to UCLA Institute of the Environment researchers. They assigned grades to the industry of “A” for environmental best practices and “C” for industry-wide actions. The full report card is available at Institute of the Environment.

Corbett and Turco also estimated contributions to air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts resulting from activities associated with the film and television industry. Within the five-county Los Angeles region, the film and television industry and associated activities make “a larger contribution to conventional air pollution than four of the five other sectors we studied,” they said. The film and television industry trailed petroleum refining but topped aerospace manufacturing, apparel, hotels and semiconductor manufacturing.
One factor hampering additional progress, the professors said, “is the degree to which work is controlled by short-lived ever-changing production companies rather than by long-lived firms in stable supply chains, making it difficult to institutionalize best practices.

From my own set experience I have never seen a real concrete effort at recycling. During an average shooting day, several hundred of the film crew and extras consume dozens of cases of sodas and bottled water as well as coffee. The cans, plastic bottles and coffee cups are just thrown into the general trash. There is no attempt at putting out recycling bins and the logistics in doing so are both time consuming and probably labor intensive – thus costing the productions more in the end. It’s a sad fact and despite the desire of the filmmakers to help — it’s really up to the producers of each production to make it their responsibility.


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