if Green Screen

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A guide to environmentally sustainable production

Safeguarding the environment and our

Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny is working a pathway to a more sustainable future, incorporating environmental outcomes for our

EP’s digital solutions dramatically reduce paper waste.

Despite an increase in digital tools, global consumption of paper has risen by more than 400 per cent in the last 40 years, contributing to global warming, landfill overcrowding, and deforestation, among other concerns. Through our production technology, Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny provides a paperless solution allowing productions to significantly reduce paper usage. In fact, our digital solutions have eliminated 2 million sheets of paper since 2021!



Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny provides software designed to empower green practices. Our solutions —including those designed for Production Management and Production Finance Teams—allow productions to operate through a secure cloud platform that’s accessible anytime, anywhere. Productions benefit from maximised efficiency supported by a seamless flow of information, from onboarding to timecards to payroll and accounting. Built-in compliance (and no dependency on paper artifacts) helps productions operate faster and more securely. These tools help Entertainment Partners reduce our carbon footprint at a corporate level while empowering our production and studio clients to minimise their negative environmental impact.

3 Cloud-based software supports remote production workers.

With Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny’s cloud-based solutions, productions have the freedom to hire remote workers for roles that have historically been required to work on-site. Production offices can employ remote positions, offering access to a new talent pool and saving costs by limiting commuting. Additionally, remote workers help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the consumption of fossil fuels and reduce the consumption of office supplies and power—which collectively helps reduce waste and increase air quality.

Here are five key ways we’re protecting our world today
technology empowers productions
studios to ‘go green.’

is critical to the future of film— our planet.

working with entertainment industry leaders to forge incorporating practices and technology that drive better our clients and industry partners.

today to preserve it for the storytellers of tomorrow:

5 Robust virtual training programs support local talent pools all over the world.

4EP’s industry-leading tech boosts productivity, enhances flexibility and increases accuracy.

The technology built into Entertainment Partners’ full range of production software tools helps productions maximise efficiency and reduce errors. With solutions like Movie Magic Budgeting, Scenchronize, SyncOnSet, SmartStart, SmartTime, Smart Hub, Smart Accounting, and the Moneypenny portal, production staff rely on built-in accuracy checks to help reduce human error. This results in less double handing of paper, which means less waste.

Centralised, cloud-based data storage gives auditors easy access to paperwork and streamlines the process of seeing incentives returned. Entertainment Partners helps productions gather the checklist items throughout production for a quick turnaround, audit and submission. Rebates are optimised and the interest expense is minimised while Greening the Screen.

Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny offers a variety of virtual training opportunities, as well as on-site training for current clients. The EP Academy helps productions learn how to optimise the investment in their Entertainment Partner software solutions and helps production workers upskill or learn new skills. Courses are available for production finance and management teams and crew members. And by offering flexible training within various roles and working with industry partners and government-sponsored organisations worldwide to support their training initiatives, we’re advancing career opportunities within the industry. Our goal is to help build local talent pools all over the globe with minimal environmental impact.

As we all strive to make consistent eco-friendly practices a habit, a greener world comes into focus. Entertainment Partners is embracing our responsibility to prioritise sustainability, and we’re proud to play a critical role in this mission.

A personal note from Green Screen writer, Sandy George

MORE THAN A year ago IF Magazine publisher Mark Kuban started talking to me about writing something extensive about sustainability efforts in film and television. This is it.

We knew I was suited to the task: my love for the natural world often feels overwhelming; I’ve got a big interest in permaculture; I was nursing my 23-year-old petrol car through to when electric cars would be more available and affordable, and there was more infrastructure. Also, recently, a good friend started describing me as “frugal”. Keeping overheads low has been a life-long freelancer survival habit, but she gave me clarity: for years it had been about minimising consumption and consumerism for bigger reasons.

Writing this has filled in many knowledge gaps, introduced me to enthusiastic, hopeful, energetic people in the space, and prompted action. The gigantic failure of recent months was buying a petrol car. The old one blew up in Wangaratta, I needed one fast for a long trip to help out a friend and, by some fluke given waiting times right now, the brand and model

I wanted was available. We can always find excuses, right?

Small failures included not being able to refill a Saxa salt grinder. Too late I read on the label that this was “to ensure freshness” – I call bullshit – and learned that the salt itself is sent from Australia to Italy, packaged there, and sent back. I wrote to them and now read labels obsessively. When I bought a new television, researched recycling drop-off points, loaded the white foam packaging into the new car and drove it six kilometres, I discovered it would cost $120 to leave it there. I came back and put it in the bin, but Sustainable Screens Australia has since told me what I could have done.

It is distressing to see how humankind has damaged and is damaging the planet, but there is plenty of information out there about how to reverse this in little and big ways and many people prepared to assist. And, believe me, it’s psychologically uplifting to try and do what is necessary. Finally, thanks to IF editor Jackie Keast for pulling me through the despairing periods, and to Sustainable Screens Australia co-chair Anna Kaplan.


Sustainable production in Australia is nascent and amorphous compared to other English-speaking countries, but momentum is building.

and Group
Editor: Jackie Keast, jkeast@if.com.au Journalist: Sean Slatter, sslatter@if.com.au National Sales Manager: Daniel Shipley, dshipley@if.com.au Senior Designer: Sean Barlow Prepress: Tony Willson Production Assistant: Natasha Jara IF was founded by David Barda and Stephen Jenner, co-founded by Martin Zoland. Circulation and Subscriptions Australian Subscription Rates 1yr 6 issues for $43.50 2yrs 12 issues for $69.60 3yrs 18 issues for $91.35 To subscribe and to view other overseas rates visit www.intermedia.com.au or Call: 1800 651 422 (Mon – Fri 8:30-5pm AEST) Email: subscriptions@intermedia.com.au The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the editor and publisher. This magazine is not to be produced in whole or part without the express permission of the copyright owners. ©Copyright 2023 Published by: COMMUNICO MEDIA GROUP PTY LTD ABN 69 647 866 091 POST: PO Box 55, Glebe NSW 2037 Australia STREET: 41 Bridge Road, Glebe NSW 2037 Australia PHONE: 61 2 9660 2113 FAX: 02 9660 4419 WEB: www.if.com.au CONTENTS 4 IF: GREEN SCREEN
Executive Chair: Simon Grover
Publisher: Mark Kuban


A guide to environmentally sustainable production

Work is underway to ensure making film and television is less harmful to the planet


THE COMPANY YOU KEEP Environmental sustainability is now a business priority for many – and likely soon a condition of funding.

16 30


AUSTRALIA STEPS UP TO LEAD SSA’s vision is to work with production and distribution to significantly reduce its negative impact on the planet.


We talk to those who have been putting in the hard yards to create change, often at the grassroots.



We examine efforts to create change at studios and animation houses.


IF NOT NOW, WHEN? If not us, who?

6 IF:

Sustainable production in Australia:

nascent, amorphous, but momentum is building

IT FEELS LIKE the Earth has turned on us, that it is trying to shrug us off with fires and floods and wild weather. And it feels like we deserve it, with our high consumption and mountains of plastic debris, and by foolishly forgetting how much we depend on the environment.

It’s nearly 20 years since Al Gore warned us of these matters in An Inconvenient Truth. Only the unhinged argue that climate change is not caused by humans.

Earth is 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s and temperature records topple every year now because the atmosphere is choked with greenhouse gases. Dozens of countries, including Australia, have committed to getting emissions down to zero by the year 2050 but the United Nations has said that this is one of the greatest challenges that humankind has ever faced. The overall aim is to limit temperatures to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels. That’s what it will take to keep the Earth habitable. Or so we’re told.

Fundamental change is necessary to the way we all live. Every city, industry and household can play a part and has to. The wise amongst us are acting fast. Those who aren’t… well the word “willful” springs to mind.

All this and more is explored through the prism of the Australian screen industry in this special edition of IF Magazine

The production of film and television is not good for the environment. >>


Actually, no, it is horribly bad with its high electricity and fuel use, extravagant set construction, and so on. In the simplest of terms, reducing its impact centres on energy sourcing and use and on waste – reduce, reuse, recycle is often heard from sustainability advocates. COVID-19 was a big setback to sustainability, but it also showed how quickly change can occur if there is will.

How the industry is reducing its environmental impact is not a story that can be told as one coherent narrative. It is true to say that only a limited amount of activity is happening here in Australia, which is extremely dispiriting, but it is equally true to say that momentum is building, which inspires hope.

Big media companies have been walking the talk abroad for more than a decade. In the UK, many significant players with their roots in television – the BBC, ITV, C4, Sky etc – have changed their behaviour and influenced others to do likewise. The same applies in the US, where the Hollywood studios lead the charge.

All have the power and resources to act big. How admirably they’re doing depends on who’s judging.

This international activity is filtering through to Australia because of its heavy dependence on international finance and the high level of overseas ownership and control of the major production houses that make a lot of our local content. But overall, as said, the state of play is nascent and amorphous.

A group has emerged, however, that is changing this regrettable situation by sparking concerted national action. Up until very recently, Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA) has been a group of seven women gathering knowledge, support and skills over hundreds of hours on a voluntary basis. (Many questions spring to mind about why only women have been willing to do this but discussing it here would be going off on a tangent.)

SSA’s goal is to push and cajole the industry to cut carbon emissions and transition to a circular economy. It’s been, and still is, a massive task and the group should be loudly, gratefully

Facts about carbon emissions

• Industrialised countries represent 20 per cent of the world’s population but have accounted for 80 per cent of cumulative CO² emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

• About 90 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels – mainly for electricity, heat and transport.

• China, the US, the European Union and India accounted for two thirds of global fossil-fuel carbon emissions in 2021.

• Australia is the 14th highest emitter, contributing just over 1 per cent.

Source: CSIRO


applauded. Everyone who cares, or knows they will eventually have to care, has been waiting on the SSA for guidance, and it’s been a lot of pressure.

Throughout the research for this magazine big questions continually arose. Here’s a taste of them.

How long have we got?

The whole film and television industry will be paying attention in 20 years. So said one of the SSA management committee during a discussion about analysing the carbon footprints of businesses and productions. But have we got 20 years or is it a door-die situation? As in do now or die – literally? The concept that Earth will be uninhabitable sometime soon seems too immense for the mind to properly take in. Perhaps that’s why some will only change when forced to. Perhaps Hollywood disaster films get it right and people only move with urgency when they see a giant wave or earthquake with their own eyes.

How can everyone be persuaded to play their part?

Responsibility for climate change and the deterioration of the planet lies at the feet of humanity. Not very long ago, this was the subject of argument. Now, across the globe, it’s seen as irrefutable. Each of us is complicit. Those who are deeply committed and knowledgeable say only collective action will get us out of this pickle and that means changing people’s consciousness to build support. Individual versus corporate responsibility is often discussed, but powerful corporate entities don’t run themselves; individuals run them. How to put a bomb under everyone is also much talked about. It doesn’t help when the gains from setting up carbon offset schemes attract human bad apples.

What can be done about our dependency on others?

Nothing and nobody exists in a vacuum. However carefully businesses put their waste in the correct bin, they very often have to trust what happens to it after it’s taken away.

When we defecate into the toilet and flush, we wash our hands of checking where it actually goes and how much damage we’re doing to the planet. This undeniable dependence on government and others is challenging. There’s plenty of evidence that individuals within the film and television industry are encouraging hire companies to make electric vehicles (EVs) more available, influencing energy suppliers to be more transparent, and so on, but pressuring doesn’t carry the same weight as policing. And how can you know that others, including those who supply your dishwashing liquid, are genuinely green? Information often comes from vested interests and the difference between truth and marketing spin isn’t always easy to discern. At least the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is on to the greenwashing


Be inspired by some content

The not-for-profit environmental organisation Earth.Org this year published a list of the 21 best environmental films. Eyes of the Orangutan and Seaspiracy are the most recent.

Is measuring carbon dioxide emissions, calculating footprints and transitioning to a circular economy easy?

Yes and absolutely not. Carbon footprinting is the foundation on which strategies and goals are set yet, if you look too deeply, it can sometimes feel like you need Albert Einstein’s intellect to understand the complexities. Let’s use the example of EVs. These are positioned as squeaky clean compared to vehicles powered by combustion engines and petrol or diesel. There is no dispute that EVs are a better alternative, but it shouldn’t be assumed that they’re beyond reproach. Maybe they’re always recharged with electricity generated by burning fossil fuels, not renewable sources such as hydro, wind or solar. And then there’s how all the components of different models of EVs were manufactured, and how each car will be disposed of, >>


including the batteries. Even Rowan Atkinson, who has a car collection worth millions, recently pondered publicly whether keeping an old petrol car was better than buying an EV. To make significant change, it is necessary to dig down deep. Very deep. Those who think otherwise should google “scope 3 emissions”. There’s a reason sustainability advocates say “Do what you can and it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect”.

How much does this all cost?

Sorry but your guess is as good as mine. The question was asked constantly but clarity was impossible to get.

Are we losing sight of the core business of making and distributing great content?

No. It’s likely there won’t be an industry if action isn’t taken. Putting that and the morality and stupidity of destroying the planet aside, there’s a slow dawning that the only way to stay in business will be to take notice. Just as commissioners and government agencies consider gender

Just do it: act NOW

All these techniques can be applied to any department in film and television production:

• Minimise travel/use electric vehicles

• Reduce/reuse/recycle

• Reduce energy use/use renewables

• Save water

• Hire people and equipment locally

• Reduce plastic use

• Track carbon footprint/reduce or offset

• Reduce food miles/compost/don’t waste food

• Use vendors and services that use sustainable practices

equality and diversity and inclusion when they make decisions, so too will they consider environmental impact. And factoring in the environment will become mandatory, although how that will be applied is unknown.

What will it take to fundamentally change society?

This is the big one. Collective action is required across the economy but certainly in the West, getting and making money is seen as the basis of survival, not nursing a sick planet back to health. And over consumption as a pastime is very popular. What’s needed is an utter re-think. Pondering the likelihood of that can feel overwhelming and spark helplessness. In film and television, sustainability managers are being appointed, sustainable policies are being thrashed out, awareness is growing, but is it just tinkering around because the big drivers are capitalism and competition? You could say that but here’s a question: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

For the record and for inspiration

All the Hollywood entertainment giants are taking steps to go green.

A major study into emissions by Screen Auckland was published this year and includes recommendations for action.

WarnerMedia’s latest corporate social responsibility impact report illustrates how, in Hollywood, being kind to the planet often supports the work of not-for-profit community organisations.

The platform Green Film Shooting has regular news about sustainability in filmmaking, especially news from Europe. Recently it reported that only vegan food was served during the production of Avatar: The Way of Water.

The not-for-profit Doc Society which is committed to enabling great documentary films to be made and to finding audiences for them, has a filmmaking protocol available.

Sony Pictures has made public its examination of the environmental impact of virtual productions.


Carbon, common terms and the Paris Agreement

THE WORD CARBON is thrown around all the time in discussions about sustainability and environmental impact, but carbon is a beautiful thing. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is actually the culprit behind climate change.

Carbon is a chemical substance abundant in soil, oceans and all living things. The Earth’s fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil – which are formed over millions of years from dead plants, are particularly rich in carbon. Carbon constantly changes form and moves around, and the carbon in the atmosphere is principally CO2 (one part carbon, two parts oxygen).

The Industrial Revolution happened when goods stopped being made by hand and started being made by machines. Coal was extracted from deep in the ground and used to power machinery that belched out smoke. Other fossil fuels were also burned for heating and transportation. This, together with clearing land and farming practices, all driven by human needs, has caused CO2 to build up in the atmosphere to never-seen-before levels.

This is serious because, instead of being a protective blanket for Earth, CO2 – and also water vapour, methane and nitrous oxide – are trapping too much heat from the sun, like in a greenhouse, hence the term ‘greenhouse gases’. Most scientists agree that the severe climatic consequences now being experienced can only be addressed by reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

When businesses are deemed ‘carbon neutral’ it generally means they’ve taken steps to reduce or offset the amount of CO2 they are releasing into the atmosphere due to their activities. Offsetting usually means investing in renewable energy sources, or in forests and other natural environments which store carbon – often referred to as carbon sinks.

Sadly news services regularly report dodgy carbon offsetting schemes. A sobering example was presented by ABC program Four Corners in February. A number of Australian entities, including the Sydney Opera House and Gilbert + Tobin, were caught up in the ruse, thinking they were supporting PNG rainforests and biodiversity. The reality though, is that offsetting is not going to get the world to net zero.

CO2 isn’t all bad; too much of it is. To grow, plants need CO2 and sunlight for photosynthesis, for example, some of

that CO2 is converted to oxygen and some is stored as carbon. Many countries, including Australia, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 under the Paris Agreement struck at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2015.

Put simply, net zero occurs when the amount of greenhouse gas that’s pumped into the atmosphere and the amount removed is the same. As said already, the overall aim is to ensure life can continue on Earth by limiting temperatures to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels. As mentioned, United Nations (UN) data puts the Earth at 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. The UN says that transitioning to a net zero world is one of the greatest challenges that humankind has faced, and it requires a complete transformation of how we produce, consume and move about. The energy sector is the source of about three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, which is why renewables get a lot of attention.

The Climate Council, which rose from the ashes of the Australian Government’s Climate Commission, recommends that Australia cuts its emissions by 75 per cent by the end of this decade.

One way to get a better grasp of all this in order to start acting on it individually, is to look at personal carbon emissions through food consumption and so on.


is paid for screen content A high environmental price

EVERY PIECE OF screen content is unique, but two recent international reports both found emissions were significant.

The UK’s albert commissioned a screen new deal: a route map to sustainable film production, which analysed 19 films made in the UK and the US in the five years prior to 2019 for more than $US70 million each, and found average emissions to be 2,840 tonnes of CO2e. (The term CO2e, means carbon dioxide equivalent. It encompasses other greenhouse gases with the potential to warm Earth. To ascertain CO2e levels, the global warming potential of these other gasses is used to calculate what the equivalent amount of CO2 would be.)

Fuel accounted for about half average emissions and, of this, 70 per cent was associated with car journeys and 30 per cent with the diesel used in generators. Energy was the second largest contributor, accounting for 34 per cent of emissions, with the vast majority from the electricity that powered production activities – gas was also used. Some of the energy, however, was the result of accommodating people in hotels and rented apartments.

The report notes that, for a typical tentpole film:

• Energy consumption could power Times Square for five days

Fuel consumption could fill an average car tank

11,478 times

• The air miles equates to 11 one-way trips from Earth to the moon


• Waste generation equates to the weight of 313.5 blue whales

• Plywood use amounts to the volume of 2.5 cargo planes

To produce the report, albert collaborated with the British Film Institute and London-based professional services firm Arup to produce the report, which notes that global film revenue was $US43 billion in 2019. Clearly, behind those dollars is a lot of damage to the environment.

Based on the other side of the world to albert, there is another group helping the production community reduce its negative environmental impact. The Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA) represents the biggest names in production and distribution in Hollywood and sits behind the Green Production Guide, created in partnership with the Producers Guild of America Foundation’s green committee.

The SPA report Carbon Emissions of Film and Television Production, released in March 2021, found that the average carbon footprint of members’ tentpole films was 3,370 metric tons, or 33 metric tons per shooting day. As with the albert research, tentpoles were defined as having budgets of more than $US70 million. There were 161 films examined from the years 2016 to 2019. (Tons and tonnes are technically different, but note the use of the word “metric”: the terms are interchangeable in this case.)

Things to say to help people who are feeling overwhelmed:

Frances Wallace, Sydney Film Festival:

“We’ve all seen change happen because of individuals and the groups that gather around those individuals. Everything you do, the way you behave, the way you treat people, the way you treat the planet, matters. The task seems too big. All you can do is take small steps and keep breathing.”

Jessica Gower, Equoia:

“We need to talk, be open to taking action, and not be worried about doing it perfectly. If we all take it step by step, that helps build the collective that will enable the transition. We felt we could be of value if we had something tangible to offer.”

Kylie Washington, BBC Studios ANZ:

“It comes down to ‘What’s the action plan?’… To people understanding the information, the goal, the mission.”

Antony Tulloch, Docklands Studios Melbourne:

“We freaking understand because there’s so much noise! Break it down into little chunks. Remember that quick wins are achievable.”

Helen Panckhurst, Matchbox:

“One step at a time. Don’t try and fix the big picture, fix the little pictures and it will cascade.”


Governments must help.

What is required for the whole industry to act? This question was put to a trio of people.

Antony Tulloch, Docklands Studios Melbourne:

“It has to be project driven. There have to be rules and guidelines that must be followed. Everyone must buy in. It has to be more than arse-covering documents. There has to be data around it. Sustainable Screens Australia is a step in the right direction, providing their resources are in the language of the industry, not the language of sustainability. Tying into albert and what the UK has been doing is very smart. They’ve already done the work. We are seeing a generational shift and their thinking will drive success.”

The SPA report found that fuel usage made up 48 per cent of the average footprint. Air travel and utilities, including

Richie Young, Red Fox Unit Services:

“I don’t see it getting better until the attitudes of especially older people change. Cost is the biggest barrier: to become environmentally friendly is expensive [on smaller budget productions]. Unfortunately, some people are lazy or don’t care. It’s an industry that wants to get things at the cheapest price they can. It’s unfortunate but it’s the truth of the matter.”

Helen Panckhurst, Matchbox Pictures:

production period but also because they were less likely to be filmed on location. Air travel made up 61 per cent of the emissions on unscripted television.

“The film and television industry is a massive polluter. It’s horrifying. Everyone has to take responsibility to turn that around. I think it will happen because if people start acting, others will want to and it becomes less scary. It’s also about saying to government ‘This is important and we need you to help us with infrastructure’. We have to do something, we just have to, or we won’t have jobs.”

Take it easy. Small steps. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
are needed. Oldies have to change.
48% FUEL 24% Air travel 6% hotels and housing 22% ULTILITIES (InCL. water and power)
The average footprint of a tentpole film

STEPS UP TO LEAD Sustainable Screens Australia

Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy
SSA’s Maree Cochrane, Sara Horn and Anna Kaplan playing up for the camera, though it’s suprising they have the time.

Sustainable Screens Australia assumes a leadership role

THE LAUNCH OF Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA) in mid-June felt like a significant milestone after nearly three years of principally behind-thescenes effort.

SSA’s vision is to work with anyone and everyone in Australian film and television production and distribution to significantly reduce the negative impact on the planet.

It’s not the first time this has been attempted over the years but success hovers this time around. That’s because the SSA has been so diligent at engaging and consulting with

industry, assuming a leadership role, gathering formal support including those already seen as industry leaders, positioning itself as a central hub for all, and acting on the need for a framework and standards to work to.

The official launch was held as part of the Sydney Film Festival on June 13 at the Sydney Town Hall. Many showed up.

The SSA website gives a sense of what the SSA brand is, provides a taste of what’s to come, and offers a few resources aimed at starting the

big task of changing people’s thinking and behaviour.

Sitting behind all this local activity is We Are Albert, the BAFTA-backed organisation that’s been leading the charge in the UK. SSA signed a partnership agreement with albert in April that will allow SSA to adopt and administer the albert carbon calculator for Australia, as well as customise all the associated training programs, support materials and resources.

Version two of the SSA website will include access to the albert calculator, a database of vetted suppliers that service

The launch of Sustainable Screens Australia at Sydney Film Festival, L-R: co-chairs Sara Horn and Anna Kaplan, executive director Maree Cochrane and evening host Mark Humphries. Photo credit: Katrin

all areas of the production industry, as well as department-by-department checklists, Australian case studies and training opportunities open to all.

SSA’s origins go back to Anna Kaplan, Jennifer McAuliffe and Tanzy Owen –and others at times – getting together because of their shared interest in sustainability. All then worked in screen production, Kaplan as a producer, McAuliffe in art departments and Owen in sustainability. One of their first formal acts as a group was writing to Screen Australia to ask for support in mid 2020.

In time, these three women, Dreamchaser Entertainment

SSA members are now being trained to use the albert carbon calculator. Free training and support will be open to all Australian productions in 2024, thanks to member fees.

SSA’s 16 original seed funders and foundational members

ABC BBC Studios CJZ Docklands Studios Melbourne Dreamchaser Film Art Media Matchbox Pictures Netflix Paramount ANZ Regen Studios SBS Screen NSW Screen Queensland Screen Tasmania Shark Island Foundation VicScreen
ABC head of sustainability Pamela Longstaff and Jennifer McAuliffe, who is on the management committee of SSA.
Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy

chief operating officer Sara Horn, WildBear Entertainment executive producer Kate Pappas, Endemol Shine Australia business and legal affairs executive Alex Wasiel and producer Tamasin Simpkin became the inaugural SSA management committee. The committee will

SSA’s original management committee

transition into a board as part of SSA’s governance structure.

Many others have contributed voluntarily in working group and subcommittee meetings and in many other ways since the vision of the SSA was pitched at a virtual round table involving 50 stakeholders.

It’s impossible to know exactly when the calculator will be available for Australian productions because the SSA has only just appointed two learning designers, Zachary Lurje and Georgina McClements on short-term contracts, but it will be early in the 2023/24 financial year.

Australia signs the albert adoption papers

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO have a serious, long conversation about sustainability within the Australian film and television industry without hearing the word ‘albert’. It is worth being very clear on what albert is.

Most often an Australian would be talking about the albert carbon calculator, albert certification, the UK-based organisation, or the fact that Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA) has an anchor partnership with said organisation. No wonder it can be confusing!

On its home page, the UK-based organisation, overseen by BAFTA, describes itself as “the home of environmental sustainability for film + TV”. Its two objectives make it clear that it aims to encourage industry practitioners to: use the potential power of content to “inspire” the broad population to support “a vision

for a sustainable future” and change their own behaviours in order to help “restore” the environment by “actively eliminating waste and carbon emissions from production”.

Regarding the first objective, the Australia industry has produced many excellent environmentally-themed productions, especially documentaries, but beyond giving characters keep cups to hold, it’s not done much in fiction to use the power of storytelling to change mainstream behaviour.

albert has been around for more than a decade and is a big community with an enormous amount of information on its site. The BBC, ITV, C4, Sky, Netflix and BT Sport are the current directorate members who oversee strategy and industry-wide objectives. Smaller broadcasters and production groups make up a consortium supporting the creation of albert projects, tools and

SSA’s newest foundational members

Disney Studios Australia

ITV Studios Australia, Lingo Pictures

Lune Media

Minderoo Pictures

National Film and Sound Archive

Nine, Stan Screen Australia

initiatives. Then there’s other members clustered in a sport and a news consortium, ambassadors, international partners and affiliates.

Turning to the albert carbon calculator, put simply, it is a mechanism to measure the volume of CO2 produced by businesses, activities,

Top row (L-R): Anna Kaplan (co-chair), Jennifer McAuliffe, Sara Horn (co-chair). Bottom row: Kate Pappas (treasurer), Tamasin Simpkin, Alex Wasiel (secretary).” Tanzy Owen (not pictured) was also part of the original committee but is now working on sustainability at Qantas.

or individuals. The processes that sit behind generating a carbon footprint, and the footprint itself, are the basis on which strategies and goals to reduce CO2 can be realistically set. Not using calculators, not having plans and not exercising serious intent almost certainly leads to greenwashing.

Calculators have been around for decades and come in all shapes and

sizes, but SSA co-chair Anna Kaplan says albert is the best one for film and television production. Hundreds of UK productions have used the albert calculator since its 2011 launch and the resultant mass gathering of data has assisted the industry to work out how to best reduce emissions in that region. Most UK broadcasters require albert certification. Since 2021, UK

productions have been required to offset their unavoidable emissions albert has said that the average cost to offset a production’s entire footprint is 0.1 per cent, and now has its own offset scheme

Using the albert carbon calculator will undoubtedly become standard in Australia’s film and television industry at some time in the future.

Maree Cochrane is the new face of SSA

MAREE COCHRANE IS a newcomer to Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA) compared to others, but she has grabbed the baton and run with it in her new gig as inaugural executive director.

Her new role marks a return to the screen industry after a decade specialising in behavioural change and sustainability.

It’s an industry that she’s deeply missed, even though she was, in her

own words, “ethically frustrated” by the lack of respect often shown for the environment by others during her more than 10 years on sets. She mostly worked as an assistant director but fled, citing the “epic amount of paper being thrown in the bin because of daily script amendments”. She remembers one incident very clearly in which a camera operator ripped off a big tree branch and mounted it

on a stand nearby in order to capture beautiful scattered light.

“I was 23 years old at the time and had to stop myself saying ‘Just move the camera!’ It did my head in.”

After leaving the industry, Cochrane co-founded an ethically responsible furniture making and soft furnishings company, and ran a costume manufacturing business. The latter “used materials that were going to

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stay in the earth forever, which deeply concerned me”.

Cochrane then studied at the notfor-profit Centre for Sustainability Leadership in 2015 under a fellowship, then stayed on for nearly three years to help deliver programs to people wanting to learn about environmental, social and economic systems change. (Coincidentally, Tanzy Owen, a member of the inaugural SSA management committee, completed a fellowship the following year. The CSL has since closed its doors and gifted its intellectual property to the Monash Sustainable Development Institute).

Following that, she took what she knew into the Victorian Government: “There I worked with behavioural specialists and incredible minds who were working globally on innovative practice. They were asking such things as: how can people work on really complex problems differently, and how can governments work with communities to create good change rather than writing policy from an ivory tower?”

Cochrane believes the experience in and passion for behavioural change she’s developed during the decade she’s been away from the screen production

industry is likely to be invaluable.

“People are often overwhelmed by sustainability and it’s uncomfortable for a lot of people to change,” she says. Many leaders in the field talk of how resistance to being environmentally friendly flows from people being wedded to the ways in which they’ve always acted.

IF asked Cochrane what would be the one thing she’d say to someone who was not inclined to care about environmental issues and had other big interests, say, racing cars.

“It feels like a cliché, but you can’t do anything you are passionate about unless you have a planet. If we don’t all take care of it, that driver won’t have anywhere to race. The planet is our home and it’s our shared home. Some people have lost sight of this. If we treat it as we have been, it’s just not going to exist. Nature will always win. Humans are trying to dominate nature, but they won’t win the battle.

“Also, that racing car driver might love eating fish. Most people rely on the environment in some way. Kids can only play on grass if it gets rain or water and sun.”

Cochrane has a positivity about her that is infectious, but admits she has

had to cultivate that attitude at times. But there are reasons to be positive too, her example being how COVID-19 demonstrated that real change is possible.

“If the environment got the PR that COVID got we’d be in a much better position right now. We’re doing this collectively, and we did it collectively for COVID. We can come together if we’ve got a goal. We have to make sure we have a place to make films.”

Asked about the cost of change, Cochrane says it doesn’t “necessarily” need more money.

“It’s about thinking about things differently. There’s resistance because people think it’s going to be hard, and maybe it is going to be hard, and maybe it will cost more, but the long game is that it can end up saving you money, and you are helping to save the planet. There are no bad outcomes.”

“You can’t do anything you are passionate about unless you have a planet.”
Maree Cochrane.
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SSA’s three pro-bono service providers
Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy

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ARE CO-CHAIRS Anna Kaplan and Sara Horn

ANNA KAPLAN AND Sara Horn were eating, drinking and sleeping sustainability before they became co-chairs of SSA.

Kaplan, head of impact production at Regen Studios, moved to Australia from London in 2000 to have a life that was closer to nature, but it was producing 2040 that provided a wakeup call.

The 2019 feature documentary examined what the year 2040 would look like if humanity treated the planet well by using the solutions already available to it. She and writer/ director Damon Gameau decided to practise what they were intending to preach by measuring the film’s impact on the environment.

“Seeing the data from our own efforts made us go ‘Holy shit! We can’t keep going like this. We have to change,’” Kaplan said.

She saw first-hand how difficult it was to make filmmaking practices more sustainable without tailored resources. She also realised that she had many of the skills necessary to get an initiative like SSA going because of her background as an impact producer in storytelling, gathering groups of partners, running training and changing behaviours.

Kaplan was the recipient of the 2019 Natalie Miller Fellowship. She was somewhat stymied by COVID-19 but it gave her the time, headspace and resources to do extensive research on

sustainability in film and television worldwide. It was at this time that she and colleagues ascertained that the albert carbon calculator model, developed in the UK and adopted by then by screen industries in such countries as Norway and the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, seemed like a good fit for Australia.

The other SSA co-chair, Horn, had a personal interest in how to run productions as sustainably as possible when she was managing director of production and operations at Endemol Shine Australia – now she is chief operating officer at Dreamchaser. While at the local office of Endemol Shine she held a concurrent role as global chair of Endemol Shine Giving,

Anna Kaplan and Sara Horn.
Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy

leading a plastic-free pledge and a sustainable production drive across the international business.

“At Endemol Shine we introduced the role of sustainability manager on MasterChef Australia and Tanzy Owen took it on. When Tanzy, Jen McAuliffe and Anna convened an event in October 2020, I spoke there on behalf of ES. After that it seemed natural to become involved with SSA on a personal level and on an ongoing basis.” [SSA’s founders are these four women plus Kate Pappas.]

“I believe companies have a responsibility to run their businesses as sustainably as possible. Productions have a big footprint. When we go out and film, we’ve got a lot of transient crew that come in and out. It’s really important that we leave where we’ve been the same as it was or even better.”

Sustainable Screens Australia has achieved an enormous amount, principally on the basis of volunteer labour. You would have needed some cold hard cash though. Where did it come from?

SARA HORN: We had an initial starting budget and sourced funds from several areas. The Australian Cultural Fund campaign was one of the streams of funding as it allowed the donations to be tax deductible. [The target was $50,000 and $45,820 was raised

using the fundraising platform.] The remainder of our start-up budget was raised by grants and donations from screen agencies, production companies, networks, streamers, and studios. The seed funders were all party to raising the capital. The ongoing costs of the organisation will be met by the membership fees. We have a tiered membership model that encompasses the following levels: consortium, associate member, and affiliate member. We then have partner relationships such as industry, education, commercial and philanthropic partner. The membership fees will enable the tools, resources and training to be free for the whole industry.

What exactly is the relationship between Sustainable


Australia and albert?

ANNA KAPLAN: We are not albert or Australian albert. We are Sustainable Screens Australia. We have an anchor partnership with albert and we are standing on their shoulders and utilising their 10 years of developing best practice and expertise but we’re not being prescriptive. We have taken a phased approach. We are starting with the fundamentals of building capacity, educating people on why we need to do this, skilling up people and deploying necessary, standard, effective tools and resources. albert

has a very large suite of programs and initiatives. We will cherry pick the best of what’s available and what we think will work here and develop our own initiatives and resources to create what else we need. FEAT is a beautiful example of initiatives we might do on our own. We have the structure to do what they have done. I’ve also been inspired by Green Music Australia.

Who will get access to the albert calculator and who won’t once it becomes available in Australia?

AK: Everyone will get access. To use the albert calculator up to now to measure a production’s estimated footprint, you needed to request an account on the albert toolkit website and register the production. When Australian producers have tried to do this, the notification has gone to the UK and access has only been granted if it is a UK production or UK co-production. >>

“It’s really important that we leave where we’ve been the same as it was or even better.”
Producing ‘2040’ gave Anna Kaplan a wakeup call about filmmaking’s impact on the environment.

In many interviews done for this publication, there was a strong sense that people are hanging out for the albert calculator. When will it be accessible?

AK: As soon as possible after July 1. That will be when we will have Australian admin rights, and can receive the registration request and grant access. We don’t want to give a date and then have to change it. Two learning designers started doing the localisation work and planning the sustainable production training on May 31. This included liaising with foundational members on their training needs and upskilling all of us as ‘super users’ so we can support everyone ongoing. We want people to have a good experience from the getgo and to be properly supported. albert is the only calculator in the world that, by our assessment, we would roll out here. People use workarounds, other calculators and bespoke spreadsheets – I did on 2040 – but albert is a holistic tool just for film and television. It guides you through the process so you know everything you should be looking for, where the bulk of your footprint is going to be, and where you need to focus your attention to reduce emissions and adhere to circular economy principles. The Green Production Guide in the US uses a spreadsheet and lays out a clear process to go through, but it’s not a sophisticated online digital tool like albert.

Can you spell out what is being tweaked so that albert suits Australia. I gather that transport is a big one.

AK: Everyone in the world who uses albert uses the same calculator and it’s not going to change. It’s been used for 10 years in the UK and there is a lot of awareness and comfort around it. It and the associated resources have evolved as people’s understanding of and engagement with the tool has evolved. If necessary, we will provide additional [supporting] resources. We may have to go back to some rudimentary this-is-how-you-do-it content for example. Also, there are references in the training that aren’t relevant to Australia: references to

particular legislation, for example, and to matters such as using the high-speed rail that connects major cities. It is not possible to obtain albert certification in the UK for certain domestic flights, but Australia is a much bigger country, doesn’t have [enough of] this kind of infrastructure and we won’t be penalising people for shooting remotely. All the references given in the training materials have to be relevant to Australian practitioners and the Australian context. Some

terminology and tone of voice needs tweaking as well.

Anna, you’ve said that because Australians have witnessed fires and floods firsthand, they are more aware than their UK contemporaries of how necessary it is to take action on climate change. Given how far we are behind, are there other reasons that might help us activate things quickly?

AK: Being a laggard is a real motivator. We’d say to the powers that be that

“ We’ve experienced an onslaught of one-in100-years natural disasters and seen our city skies full of smoke and the impact of that on production… There can’t be any sitting on the fence, we all have to act, and act quickly.”
Sara Horn.
Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy

[Australia] is 10 years behind [the US and the UK] and they’d say “Oh shit!”. People care about how we compare to our international counterparts. And yes, we’ve experienced an onslaught of one-in-100-years natural disasters and seen our city skies full of smoke and the impact of that on production. We’ve had such a lack of action and ambition for such a long time and now that we have a little bit of ambition and some targets, that’s been the galvaniser that everyone has needed. There can’t be any sitting on the fence, we all have to act, and act quickly.

SH: What is great about the Sustainable Screens Australia model is that it is driven by the industry. We are all coming together to drive this collective approach. We’re all singing from the same hymn book. We have quite a few international production companies in Australia, which are already using albert overseas, so it’s not as if the industry is unaware of albert. The more people that use it, the

more of a massive snowball effect it will have. We’re seeing that already. It’s very encouraging that all these natural competitors in the industry are working together.

You have said to me previously Sara that reducing environmental impact is happening from the bottom up, rather than top down. Is that still the case?

SH: I know from working with many freelance crew over the years that a lot of them want companies to do more, but we are getting more studios and production companies involved and that’s a top-down approach. It will meet in the middle at some point, but we are still pushing from the bottom a bit.

AK: It’s the perfect storm now in that we’ve got pressure from the top and the bottom, and that’s where you get traction. Also, the university sector is all over this. They have to get serious because students expect them to. We’ve come along at just the right time for them. We’re having

high-level discussions with AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio School), VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) and NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts).

Screen Australia figures highly in the industry. You went there early on. What was the response?

AK: They’ve been engaged and in the conversation the whole way through the process; in the working groups and the roundtable we had in 2020. We were hoping they might take a leading role and be the first in to support us but, actually, it was the smallest screen agency in the country that was first in: Screen Tasmania gave us $1,000 – we all nearly fell off our chairs with excitement when we got that email. No-one had given us anything and we didn’t even ask; they offered it. Screen NSW was the next agency to come in. Supporting us didn’t quite fit into any of Screen Australia’s programs. It had to be massaged in. But now they’ve come in, in a significant way, and it’s great they’re at the table. There are structural levers that would accelerate change. We have a large percentage of content produced here that has government money in the mix and that is a lever.

There is wariness about what all this is going to add to the budgets of productions and companies. What would you say to that?

AK: It’s like putting solar on your house: it pays for itself in the longer term. There has been cost benefit analysis done in other countries, but we haven’t been able to do that here yet and we don’t want to throw out data that we can’t substantiate locally.

SH: From personal experience it doesn’t necessarily cost you more money. Depending on what you do, there are beneficial savings to be made. It’s a big fallacy that it’s going to cost more all the time. You will find your own solutions just by starting and that’s incredibly rewarding. It’s not an extra thing to do; it just becomes part of the process and a way of thinking. If it’s effectively planned for as part of the process or if it’s in the culture of the organisation already, it becomes seamless.

Anna Kaplan. Endemol Shine Australia introduced a sustainability manager on ‘Masterchef Australia’.
Photo credit: Katrin Reinfrank/@katsnapsmelbourne/KatSnapPhotograsphy

TRENCHES Tales from the


The biggest challenge is money, the next biggest is energy

FILMMAKER ZACHARY LURJE interned for six weeks as an environmental steward on the second series of Rock Island Mysteries for Network 10/Nickelodeon, filmed on the Gold Coast from late 2022. The sixweek paid gig was the first placement of its type in the country and the first under a partnership between Screen Queensland and Fremantle Australia. Lurje is a one-time teacher and sustainability advocate who drives an electric car. Since participating in this interview, he has been hired as a learning designer for Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA).

What were the most surprising, disappointing, and inspiring things you learned from your internship?

For surprising I’d say the willingness and enthusiasm of series producers Jonah Klein and Timothy Powell from Fremantle Australia, and of production manager Ange Lavey-Manché, to embrace sustainability through the whole production. It was disappointing to learn that it is difficult to confirm whether or not your recyclables are being recycled, even after talking to the waste management companies that you’re using. There needs to be greater transparency and accountability to ensure that businesses are recycling. The most inspiring thing was how crew members came up with the best ideas and were empowered to act on them. The camera crew brought in their own reusable containers for food. The art department recycled

all scrap metal, timber, paint, and foam. The costume department committed to donating all clothes that were not stored for the next season to local charities.

You used the albert calculator on Rock Island Mysteries. Describe what it is, how much it asks of the user, some examples of the information it requires, and how easy or hard it was to calculate a carbon footprint.

The calculator works out the total carbon footprint of an entire production from pre through to post. It takes into account everything that a production pays for from runners to generators to purchasing new clothing. The calculator comes with a range of fairly easy to use online tools. In the case of petrol you can choose to include information about price or the distance travelled. In the case of food waste, you can record number of meals or kilograms of protein and vegetables. Some sections are in UK pounds and it’s painful to change to Australian dollars, but SSA is adapting albert for Australia. It appears complex but is systematic. You need to take a thorough detailed approach but you just chip away at it.

You also drew up a carbon action plan. Please describe what that is and how involved it is.

To achieve albert certification all productions require a carbon action plan. It is a series of opt-in strategies developed from a series of [online] drop-down questions

Zachary Lurje argues every production can take steps to reduce its carbon footprint, even low budget projects.

about whether you’re using green electricity, running a green production office, which would mean all electronic call sheets, and so on. Once a carbon action plan has been submitted and approved a production is certified and receives a star rating of between one and three. The calculator is used differently for certification depending on whether it is a UK or an international production. You have to select country of origin early on. To obtain albert certification in the UK, domestic air travel is not permitted except in special circumstances. Often, air travel is unavoidable in Australia, but we can reduce the number of flights, carpool and use other strategies. The carbon emissions from a car journey from Brisbane to Melbourne – for an individual – are more than for a flight because we are talking about thousands of kilometres, not hundreds. On Rock Island, interstate flights were reduced to only what was

necessary at the beginning and end of production, which ran from November to April. We couldn’t get a hybrid generator and Pinnacle Films Studios didn’t have green power but did have solar power. In fact, 56 per cent of our studio power was from solar panels. Our conditions are different to those in the UK. It’s easier to get hybrid cars than electric cars, for example, but there is still limited availability in Australia. And the hire of a high-end electric car can cost up to 60 per cent more than a simple petrol car over six months of production, even with charging being cheaper than fuel. If we could hire runners with their own hybrids and EVs that would be a significant emissions and fuel saving to the production.

I’m sure there were big wins and big losses when you were working to reduce Rock Island’s footprint. Please give some examples.

As mentioned, a big win was that there was a belief in sustainability, led from the top. The leadership team – Fremantle executives, producers, line producers, the production manager and heads of department – had an overwhelming commitment to be more sustainable and to learn. It was good we were able to change caterers and switch up from compostable dining items to reusable items which reduced our waste. We used Containers for Change, which meant we collected plastic bottles and cans, got 10 cents each for them and donated the money to the Domestic Violence Action Centre and the Lamington Landcare Group - the team filmed at Mount Tamborine, which borders

“Companies need to make a profit, but we need to convince people to make sustainability a budget line item even though it may cost more in the short term.”
‘Rock Island Mysteries’ season 2.
(Photo courtesy Fremantle Australia)

Lamington National Park. We also donated all costumes that weren’t stored to local charities, including Formally Ever After, a charity that provides those students who can’t afford it with outfits for their Year 12 formal. The biggest thing a production can do is move to green electricity –electricity that comes from renewable sources. We were unable to run production trucks at the studio because no three-phase power was available there. We also didn’t set up a composting food waste service, which would have reduced our landfill. An annual compost collection service costs less than $2,000 in the Gold Coast for example, which provides a huge reduction in waste and emissions.

As you say, sourcing green energy is key, as is using less of it and other resources, and dealing better with waste. What other specific challenges do you think will arise again and again?

The biggest challenge is money. Companies need to make a profit, but we need to convince people to make sustainability a budget line item even though it may cost more in the short term. In the end they will save money because – think about it – you’re reducing packaging and waste disposal, you’re being more efficient, you’re saving on cast and crew, you’re reducing the volume of waste being collected, you’re saving by using recycled and hired materials and objects, you’re saving a bucket using virtual screens as opposed to going to a remote location. The second biggest challenge is energy. We need the whole industry to run off green energy. Wouldn’t it be great if a studio such as Village Roadshow Studios had solar panels and battery storage like many studios abroad? I believe VRS has one of the biggest roof spaces in Queensland – so that’s a great green opportunity. Wouldn’t it be great too if the new Screen Queensland studios in Cairns had integrated electric vehicle chargers, fed off rooftop solar and battery storage? All future studios should run off solar, with battery back-up and three-phase power. This would equate to the single biggest reduction in the carbon footprints of our productions, particularly here up north where we’ve got lots of sunlight. The third biggest challenge is rolling out electric vehicle infrastructure, but this is rapidly growing. Also, right now, crew shortages are forcing productions to fly people in.

There seems some concerns around reducing carbon footprints on low budget productions such as features. Costs can’t be amortised like on a series. What would you say to that?

It’s an excuse and a myth. People who say they can’t do it need to give it a go. I’m shooting my short film this weekend and we’re not using single-use plastics, only using rechargeable batteries and we’ve been doing all production meetings on Zoom. Water bottles and keep cups are standard. All documents and call sheets are digital. We’re also carpooling and eating vegetarian for half the shoot. Carpooling means producers only have to reimburse one person for parking and petrol. And if you’re persuading people to carpool, just tell them that ‘It’s going

Cost neutral or cost saving environmental tips

• In pre-production: Hire local cast and crew. It saves fuel, travel and movement and reduces the stress on them, knowing they don’t have to add significant travel time on their day. Savings can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly on series. Source and use local sustainable suppliers where possible. Plan to use second hand materials such as art props and costume.

• Production: Insist on reusable water bottles, keep cups and dining items. Also ensure food waste is composted on site or by a composting service.

• Post: Switch to LED lights. Create a recycling hub in the kitchen.

The internet is awash with suggestions for action. Here’s a list aimed at the entertainment industry and divided into 19 sections that include lighting, audio, trucking and rigging.

to be a nightmare to park!’ It’s not hard. So much of the history of film is about change and innovation; this is just another iteration.

What else would you like to say?

In any situation you have to plan disposal before you make a purchase. If this mindset is adopted, it will be a watershed moment. We need to reframe our thinking. Stop saying ‘We’ve always done it this way’ and be prepared to try something new. Everybody is responsible. No-one is too busy. Just because you are a gaffer or work in post doesn’t mean you escape responsibility. There’s a groundswell happening, particularly among younger people. You have to have clear and consistent communications right from the initial contracting so no-one is surprised they are having to scrape their food into a bin. You see ridiculous waste on set, but with careful planning it doesn’t have to be that way. The carpet from Rock Island came from Young Rock series two and will have a third life in the Cairns studios. Isn’t that fantastic?

The cast of ‘Rock Island Mysteries’.
(Photo courtesy Fremantle Australia, Paramount and Nickelodeon).

‘The New Boy’ road tested the new South Australian Film Corporation guidelines. (L-R): Producer Kath Shelper, writer/ director Warwick Thornton, producer and cast member Cate Blanchett, producer Andrew Upton and Aswan Reid.

SAFC guidelines suggest incentivising action

GREEN INDUSTRIES SA (GISA), in partnership with the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), is soon to launch the Circular Screen Production Guidelines, a draft of which was road tested on the set of the feature The New Boy, written and directed by Warwick Thornton.

Divided into departments for easy use, the practical guide was developed with input from practitioners in all areas of production including producers, heads of departments and service companies. It outlines recommendations and actionable steps that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of screen production, whether big or small budget.

GISA is part of the South Australian Government and describes itself as an enabler and driver of change, supporting development of the circular economy through diverse collaborations and partnerships which improve productivity, resilience, resource efficiency and the environment.

The New Boy stars Cate Blanchett as a nun in a remote monastery in 1940s Australia and newcomer Aswan Reid in the title role. It was filmed last year in the South Australian country town of Burra and had its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is in cinemas now via Roadshow.

Some of the practical initiatives adopted on set included appointing a particular crew member as a key “educator and motivator” to engage each department in eco-friendly actions, banning plastic bottles and using reusable plates and cutlery for crew meals, and incentivising sustainable practices with weekly competitions, such as for best sustainable crew member.

Kath Shelper of Scarlett Pictures, who produced alongside Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Lorenzo De Maio, said the guideline helped reduce the film’s carbon footprint.

“There was about 100 cast and crew and, by the end of the shoot, every department was more engaged with sustainable practices,” she says.

“Sometimes crew can be resistant because there’s a feeling that they require more time and resources to be green, especially on a smaller production, and it is hard. But by the end of our shoot some of the slightly resistant crew members could see how easy it was to make simple changes and were motivated to take those things forward on future film shoots. Unit, for instance, could see how limiting landfill made their job easier in some capacities.”

SAFC CEO Kate Croser says the guidelines will further enhance South Australia’s competitive industry advantage as a location for high quality, sustainable screen production.

“As a global leader in renewable energy production, South Australia is already leading the way in sustainability and the circular economy,” she says.

“Nearly 70 per cent of the state’s electricity generation comes from renewables and Adelaide is positioning itself to become one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities.

“South Australia’s screen industry is already leading in this space too; long-embedded initiatives at the SAFC’s Adelaide Studios such as the use of solar energy, rainwater, waste recycling and high efficiency cooling systems, combined with the overall benefits of South Australia as a leader in renewable energy globally, make them among the most energy efficient and cost effective production facilities in the nation.”

Photo: Ben King

Screen Queensland: 80 per cent of emissions are from production

It was found that 20 per cent of Screen Queensland’s CO2 emissions came from their operations and 80 per cent from the productions it funded. Looked at closely was the Australian film The Portable Door, made by Story Bridge Films and The Jim Henson Company for the UK’s Sky, which Burns describes as “light years ahead” on sustainability.

“Edge did the full edit on us and came up with a huge shopping list that we might contemplate doing over the next few years. From that, we came up with six initiatives. The things that are easiest have the lowest impact, those that are hardest have the highest. Low-hanging fruit makes you feel you’re getting somewhere but you also need to look long range.”

WHEN SCREEN QUEENSLAND chief creative officer Belinda Burns is trying to work through a challenging sustainability question, her mind can go to an image from a David Attenborough documentary set on an island off the coast of Alaska. Global warming means the ice has shrunk to such an extent that walruses have to scale cliffs in search of food and, as a result, they often fall and die. It’s an image that haunts Burns.

“[Climate change] is a hard issue to solve and it can keep being put off,” says Burns. “Fortunately, we are in an industry with people who want to be on board, are deeply passionate about sustainability and have made films about it.

“We have a responsibility as a state funding agency to do what we can to address one of the biggest existential problems we are facing as a planet. We were all feeling not enough was being done.”

“We” refers to former agency CEO Kylie Munnich and Burns’ predecessor Jo Dillon. Initially they looked internally, before contracting specialist sustainability advisory company Edge Environment to examine their waste, energy consumption, travel and so on.

Those initiatives were: moving towards carbon neutral operations; making the studios more sustainable (Screen Queensland is building a second studio of its own in Cairns); filling the knowledge gap, which includes building up a team of crew who can use albert on productions: incentivising best practice; putting a roadmap for the industry in place; and being part of a collective national vision.

Burns chaired a panel on sustainability at the Screen Forever conference in May. In her discussions with speakers beforehand, the recurrent theme was that sustainability had to be embedded in the commitment of organisations, companies and agencies as a key pillar, along with diversity and First Nations storytelling.

In a production setting it’s the time and budget pressures that throw things out. Sets and props also cause a lot of challenges. And travel.

“We are in a golden age of television and where I get excited is using story and the access we have to hearts and minds on a mass level for positive messaging about ways of living. But I don’t mean hitting people over the head.”

Take a look at Screen Queensland’s checklist

Screen Queensland has a checklist on its website for going green. It’s sorted by department, encompasses services such as energy and water usage, and includes a section on transportation.
“Low-hanging fruit makes you feel you’re getting somewhere but you also need to look long range”
Belinda Burns: ‘Where I get excited is using story and the access we have to hearts and minds on a mass level”.






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Cumulus VFX. Storytelling without limits

On-set pioneer Sarah Tosone

wants sustainability commitment tied to funding

SINCE 2015, SARAH Tosone has had various environmental roles in Australia on such films as Ticket To Paradise, Mulan, Thor: Ragnarok and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as well as the first Australian production to adopt the albert system, The Portable Door. Her industry experience stretches back to 2007, however, when she was a post-production assistant on Baz’s Luhrmann’s Australia. She says it is rewarding to be able to make a difference but also notes that it is discouraging that nobody is acting like it’s an emergency.

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of being an environmental steward on big Hollywood productions?

You need time and resources to do the job well and it is both administrative and physically active. Early in pre you’ve got to set up data tracking, ethical procurement, material diversion and other systems. For this it’s necessary to keep updated with all relevant innovations in the local community and in the industry as progress continues to evolve. Ensuring systems are running smoothly is key to the production period. This includes minimising contamination of the different waste streams, checking in regularly with departments, keeping track of data collection, and communicating results to cast and crew throughout. During wrap the focus is on finalising reports and carbon footprint tracking. A huge part of this period is the diversion of assets

Sarah Tosone, environmental manager on ‘The Portable Door’, a production which helped out an organisation that supports koala habitat.

and materials from all departments particularly set decoration, props, costume, construction, and hair and makeup. The aim is to keep items out of landfill by having asset sales, donating to local schools and not-forprofit organisations, and passing on to other productions for continued use.

What is the overall aim?

Encompassing environmentally sustainable practices and leading by example – in a highly public and influential industry – to inspire and initiate wider socio-environmental change including through the use of storytelling with positive outcomes.

What practical advice do you have for small indie productions?

The two main goals are to reduce the carbon footprint and to eliminate waste. When anything is purchased

discussion taking place and everyone seems eager. Global connections and collaborations are happening between stakeholders. Environment and Culture for Climate Action, a global collaborative initiative aiming to unite the cultural sector on shared climate goals and solutions, has been working on an international accord with the help of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat and the UN Education, Science and Cultural Organization, for example.

What’s it like to be responsible for the environmental impact of what’s happening on set? Success depends on everyone’s collaboration. The environmental department helps to make sustainable outcomes achievable by communicating goals to all departments, acting as a resource,

flood victims and those affected by domestic violence. On The Portable Door we assisted an organisation supporting koala habitat. Then there is reducing diesel usage due to hybrid generators, trialing innovative new technologies and practices, sharing knowledge and outcomes, and working successfully with local councils, government agencies and businesses. Big losses occur when there’s a lack of understanding about objectives, when the role of the environmental department is seen as an imposition, when consideration of environmental impact is an afterthought, or when the environmental team is regarded as full-time rubbish sorters.

What are the barriers that constantly get in the way of action?

A major barrier is resistance to change – specifically, cultural, behavioural, and infrastructural. Another barrier is the absence of mandatory sustainability requirements. Progress is undone when the next production [that comes along] doesn’t have any environmental sustainability requirements. We should be learning from how COVID was rolled out. Change is happening – slowly. Genuine leadership from the top and incentives are still lacking or emerging. The situation is urgent.

or made, think in terms of a circular approach: How can it be used and diverted from landfill? The producers and production teams must thoroughly understand that this applies to every aspect of the film. Everyone needs to be on the same page. The best outcomes happen with strong leadership and participation from all. Planning early in pre-production is essential. Environmental impact must be considered alongside cost and time restraints when decisions are being made. Implementing the work is scalable depending on the size of the production and it can improve and streamline processes while being resourceful and cost effective.

What recent occurrences have made you optimistic?

There is much more awareness and

sourcing, and implementing sustainable solutions. It also tracks and reports on the environmental impact of the film. Often the capacity of departments is pushed to the limit, which is where the environmental department can help most. The reality of implementing and executing certain practices can bring challenges but, with planning and collaboration, positive outcomes are achievable. Research and investigative skills are often required to create tailored solutions and make real change.

Thinking back to being on the job, give us some examples of big wins and big losses?

Big wins include giving significant donations and used materials to organisations and social enterprises set up to benefit people such as

What would you say about the cost implications on productions? Costs for environmental practices are minimal. They must be factored into budgets.

What would you say to someone who wants to play a part but feels overwhelmed?

The amount and variety of work that is involved can be overwhelming. It is a journey. But everyone [active in the space] started at some point. Connecting with others and curiosity encourages momentum. Keep records of lessons learned for next time. There is no better time to start than now.

What else would you like to say?

Standard environmental sustainability requirements must be mandatory for all productions. A commitment must be tied into funding requirements.

“The environmental department helps to make sustainable outcomes achievable by communicating goals to all departments, acting as a resource, sourcing, and implementing sustainable solutions.”

Circular economy principles

could address set construction waste

THE UK REPORT a screen new deal: a route map to sustainable film production presents a vision of how screen content could be created very differently from how it is now, inspired by the UN’s 2016 Sustainable Development Goals

This vision is driven by the need for systemic change. It aims to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems – all principles of the circular economy.

The interviews conducted for this special edition of IF unearthed many comments about the extreme amount of consumption and waste involved in the making and disposing of sets. Production materials is one of five areas that the UK report focuses on – the others are energy and water, studio buildings and facilities, studio sites and locations, and production planning.

The report’s authors advocate for: a dramatic reduction in the use of virgin material; the use of sustainable and responsibly sourced materials where virgin materials are required; and the adoption of design processes that allow materials to be deconstructed and returned to reuse networks in the same condition as they were received. They provide details on how this can be achieved and use case studies.

The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) has put in place a 50 per cent reduction in new materials for all 12 of the students’ 2023 productions.

“It allows for production materials to be purchased new if made from upcycled, re-used or recycled base materials,” says Imogen Ross, who joined NIDA in December 2022 as a sustainability manager, part of the institution’s strategy to make

sustainability a core part of all training Ross has been a production designer for decades and regularly hosts green conversations on the Australian Production Design Guild website.

“We expect that a significant

percentage of materials will be found from existing stock items from the NIDA store, purchased from secondhand outlets or sourced from other theatre and production hire companies,” she says, referring to materials and

Imogen Ross’s considerable experience is now being utilised at NIDA.

equipment used in every department: scenery workshop, costume, properties and objects, lighting, sound, AV and stage management.

“I expect that some departments will achieve this target and exceed it, while other areas of productions may not be in a position to. Some regularly-used items like gaffer tape are very hard to recycle, whereas cable tie usage can be reduced or replaced with reusable ties. Lighting equipment is something we have instock already, but coloured gels and bespoke gobos are consumed, along with the energy needed to power up during a production. I think it will even out across the whole season and feel confident that all 12 productions will meet the 50 per cent reduction overall, regardless of scale.

“NIDA has a history of keeping newly constructed scenery items and costumes to reuse, and has been increasing its on-site waste streams to include timber recycling, e-waste, batteries, metal and light globes as well as the usual green waste, paper and co-mingles streams, to ensure that what is not able to be kept will be deconstructed and recycled efficiently.

The aim is to recycle or keep 60 per cent of everything.

“This target will mean that hired items are returned to source, constructed items will either be deconstructed for recycling or placed in stock – or potentially gifted to external charities and smaller companies – and all purchased items will either go into NIDA stock or be recycled through the appropriate waste streams… Our facilities team are quite proactive in encouraging recycling and have researched several localised alternative waste streams to send stuff to. Part of my job is to

research the bespoke waste streams that are specific to creative industries and find better ways to recycle efficiently and effectively.”

Part of her job is also to help students and staff measure their CO2 emissions.

“Everyone is feeling their way into the sustainability space together. Most sustainability representatives in the cultural institutions are people with a driving passion for change. We are learning together. This is massive culture shift.”

Technology can be key to sustainability

Sometimes filmmakers can’t use the remote locations they would dearly love to because of little, inadequate or unreliable connectivity. Arenamedia solved this problem on the feature Blueback by working closely with Telstra, and the happy side benefit was a paperless office. Sending large amounts of data, including rushes, around the globe and rapidly sharing call sheets, maps, scripts and other information electronically was impossible at Bremer Bay, located between Albany and Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast. That is, until Telstra conducted a full analysis, advised on equipment, tapped into the town’s existing mobile network, and worked with the production company to design and implement an integrated technology and network solution. “Good environmental outcomes flowed from this,” says executive producer Robert Patterson, pictured with writer/director/producer Robert Connolly.

In keeping with the strong environmental themes of Blueback and the production’s desire to embrace a ‘sustainable screens’ ethos, Arenamedia provided financial support to local conservation initiatives including the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group and Gondwana Link. The crew also participated in local beach clean-ups during production – collecting plastic fragments and other detritus washed up on the remote and stunning beaches of Bremer Bay.

Robert Patterson and Robert Connolly.
Photo credit: Nic Duncan

Equoia explores powering production in innovative ways

PUVEN PATHER AND Jessica Gower are focussing on new software and hardware innovation for powering screen production in their start-up business Equoia.

In 2022 they won the social and environmental category of a pitching competition, held as part of RMIT University’s LaunchHUB pre-accelerator program, and this allowed them to go for a larger philanthropic grant from the institution. They were successful. They are now seeking investors in order to continue their work.

“Climate technology investment hardly exists in Australia and angel/impact investors need to see some success,” says Pather. “If you’re making money, they’ll jump on board but that’s when you don’t need it.”

He and former actor Gower, a husband-and-wife team, co-founded Equoia after lots of discussions about the screen production industry around the kitchen table when she was studying for a Masters of Arts: Screen Business and Leadership at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School during the early years of the pandemic.

“The thing that has frustrated us the most was the way the industry wastes so easily,” says Pather. “When you’re time restricted, with a schedule and budget to meet, and creatives whom you need to please, there’s often a conflict between your own personal beliefs and the job that needs to be done.”

It can seem like the only people with any control are those working above-the-line or a select few of them anyway, he adds.

“When we looked at the big picture we saw that energy and fuel are the biggest contributors to CO2e output. And I’m into technology so we decided to go down the path we did.

“You can’t be blind to it [environmental impact] or ignore it anymore. Film and television is a huge part of

our lives. There has to be solutions and the industry has to adopt them. The technology exists to invent tools that streamline production.”

Pather is reluctant to say much about Equoia’s plans but confirmed that it has two screen production champions. Red Fox Unit Services has agreed to provide a makeup and costume truck or two to test the company’s roof-mounted solar panels and Matchbox Pictures has agreed to trial a hybrid generator that incorporates fully electric battery banks with rechargeable modules.

“Australia has to catch up. In the UK, actors are catching trains and only using EVs. It is no longer appropriate for a production to have a private jet on standby for family or social reasons.”

“Australia has to catch up. In the UK, actors are catching trains and only using EVs.”
Puven Pather and Jessica Gower after winning best pitch at the RMIT University.
cuttingedge.com.au SYD GC BNE
Sound & Post

The bubble you’re in affects your ability to act

FRANCES WALLACE DESCRIBES San Francisco as the most left-leaning city in the US. It is often at the forefront of environmental, race, gender, and sexual politics, she says. She should know: she spent many years there as executive director of film media arts organisation Frameline before joining the Sydney Film Festival as chief executive in October 2022.

“At Frameline we developed directives about being a green festival, as most arts or cultural festivals within the city were expected to operate within that ethos.”

She notes that the city has a lot of infrastructure to tap into: “The garbage disposal company would bring huge compost bins into the theatres. What we do there is no different to what we do in our own homes.

“When I went to work in New York, I asked where the compost bins were and was laughed at. People in that city are too busy paying their rent and surviving.”

Her point is that everyone is influenced by the expectations of the world around them. That may be crushing, or it may help immeasurably to drive collective action.

needs to be changed alone. It is frustrating. You do what you can but there has to be big thinking and a lot of organisations involved: the city, politicians, the national or state bodies that represent you. Every person has to participate to create change.”

“Australia has a very effective ‘no littering’ policy and people adopt it. The US is filthy compared to here – the difference is quite extreme. Here you say to your kid ‘You can’t drop that!’”

People look to festivals and arts organisations to lead big changes, she says, despite them often being under resourced, working at full speed already, and having few permanent staff.

“You get in huge conversations [with your audiences] and know you don’t have the capacity to change what

This year the festival’s third annual sustainable future award went to Against The Tide, from Indian filmmaker Sarvnik Kaur. This year saw the prize money rise from $10,000 to $40,000 and the biggest field yet – 11 of the 15 contenders were shorts.

“A film has to really make people think about the impact of climate change or the preservation of biodiversity, or how to live sustainably in terms of agriculture, consumption, and so on,” says actor/writer Amanda Maple-Brown.

“The power of film can be incredible,” she says, explaining why she got five climate activist friends together to create the award. “In a festival setting or when you see a film with a large group of people, it can be soul shaking.”

“You do what you can but there has to be big thinking and a lot of organisations involved.”
Sydney Film Festival CEO Frances Wallace has been in the San Francisco and New York bubbles.

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The company YOU KEEP

Red Fox Unit Services’ Richie Young, who spearheaded the use of hybrid battery power generators on season two of NBCUniversal’s ‘La Brea’.

Hey producers!

Going down the rabbit hole

THERE IS NO doubt that ABC TV will require independent producers to track the carbon footprints of the productions they make for the national broadcaster and to adopt sustainable practices, according to Sacha Gregson, acting head, content, business, entertainment and specialist.

But don’t expect to pin her down on the detail or the timeline, as there’s too many balls in the air.

“We don’t feel we can impose a system on producers if we’re not doing it ourselves internally, so we will be focussing on our own production first and building up expertise and competence,” says Gregson. “We’re all learning. We will figure out a change plan that identifies and focusses on particular programs, but will be experimenting across the range of production types.”

ABC TV won’t be the only ones putting environmental demands on producers - government funding

agencies and others are working to similar goals but, at this stage, cards are being held close to chests.

“Tracking sustainability performance is what the (albert) calculator delivers … but really, what everyone needs to be focussing on now is implementing (broad) sustainable practices and behavioural change,” says Gregson.

She’s found that information is easily accessible and that industry colleagues, including from abroad, have been very generous about passing on what they’ve learned.

She expects the ABC to work first with those producers who are the early adopters, that is, those voluntarily tracking emissions and so on, which will quickly add to the public broadcaster’s knowledge about costs and complexities. The volume of productions turning towards sustainability is likely to lead to such challenges as finding net zero facilities and green generators, she adds.

Gregson says ABC TV is very proud

There is plenty of information and case studies online about what’s actually being done on productions, including this about Paramount and this about HBO, Sony and Amazon.

to be the first Australian free-to-air broadcaster to commit to sciencebased greenhouse gas targets, namely, to be net zero by 2030. Existing ABC executive Pamela Longstaff was appointed head of sustainability in April 2022 and will oversee the corporate side of things across the whole organisation. Communicating with internal staff, waste management and buildingbased energy use, lighting, heating and cooling, will be under her remit.

Gregson makes it clear that the ABC considers itself to be at the start of a long journey and insisted on giving a shout-out to Sustainable Screens Australia for galvanising and assisting the industry. “I’m looking forward to accessing the [albert] tool, resources and training.”

Yes, mandatory environmental checks are coming
Sacha Gregson, who is overseeing plans to make production sustainable, points here to the installation of LED lighting at the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters.



SERIES SEVEN OF The Great Australian Bake Off for Foxtel will be the first show that the local office of BBC Studios will take through, end to end, its newlydeveloped green plan. Later in the year, the same procedure will be applied to the scripted comedy The Office Australia.

Each production will have a sustainability ambassador to go through strategy and impact and identify where to help measure and reduce the carbon footprint. Each head of department will play a part in identifying, reducing and tracking progress against the three pillars of nature, people and net zero.

The BBC gifted the albert carbon calculator to BAFTA a decade ago. Its global target is for greenhouse gas emissions to be net zero by 2030. Every country will achieve this differently.

“Calculate, dissect, reflect,” says Kylie Washington, general manager and creative director of BBC Studios Productions in Australia and New Zealand. “Bring it down to the macro: every [budget] line, every production, every role. Otherwise it can seem too big a task.”

She and her team is using a “rudimentary” Excel spreadsheet to record and calculate emissions but will move to albert in time.

“Once we’ve gone through it [the green plan] a couple of times it’s going to work easier,” she says. There will be “milestone meetings” throughout and analysis of what worked well and what didn’t.

Washington has been driving discussions, policy implementation and training at the BBC locally: “If you don’t have personal buy in, it’s not going to happen. You have to talk about the philosophy.”

On every production there’s a lot to think about and this needs long lead times, she says. Reliance on thirdparty suppliers has many implications: it’s probably easier to find a catering company that’s put in the effort to go green than, say, a post-production service that requires big investment to go green.

“We all took several steps back due to COVID. Any progress we were making was completely obliterated

and it was very disappointing… We have to go the extra mile, do our best, pour energy and resources into trying hard. There is a bit of fear around sustainability and the cost but there’s also benefits and outcomes.”

For progress to happen, Washington believes the Australian commercial free-to-air networks have to get on board. The ABC and Amazon have initiated conversations with her about sustainability but not them.

“Some of the changes to production do incur costs and there is lots of pressure on budgets ... It’s already hard when getting shows across the line.”

She says people will feel more confident once there’s more examples of what can be done and cites BBC Studios’ live US broadcast of Dancing with the Stars, which saved 40,000 litres of diesel by using green power. That was in 2022 and corresponded with the show moving from ABC in the US to Disney+. In Springwatch, BBC Studios achieved the world’s first large scale outside broadcast solely powered by green hydrogen and batteries.

Kylie Washington accepting the 2023 SPA Award for Reality Series Production of the Year for ‘The Great Australian Bake Off’.




Panckhurst says the 2020 Australian fires and the pandemic were the sparks that lead to Matchbox Pictures getting serious about the impact its activities were having on the planet.

“When the fires hit, for me and for quite a few others here, it was an ‘Oh shit, there’s no more ‘This is going to happen’ - it’s here. I went through a period of quite intensive grief. I asked myself ‘What can I do that is going to have some sort of impact?’ ‘Matchbox is going to start doing something’.”

Subsequently, the company made sustainability one of its core values.

“At the production team gettogether at the end of last year we came up with the key words simplify, share and sustainability. The essential thing about commitments is, that once you have them, you reflect on them all the time.”

Here are some of what has been implemented on an ongoing basis to date:


Matchbox’s stablemates

Significant European media group Sky says it is going net zero carbon by 2030 and NBCUniversal has committed to being carbon neutral by 2035 in scope 1 and 2 emissions. Both are under the umbrella of Comcast Corporation, which has reduced emissions from operations by 28% since 2019. Matchbox is in this stable.

‘Fires’, which used virtual production techniques, was used as a test case for calculating a carbon footprint.
Matchbox Pictures’ Helen Panckhurst argues the screen industry needs to put pressure on political parties to build better infrastructure to assist climate efforts.

• Instead of Matchbox having one production co-ordinator, there are now two, with one handling post and delivery and the other production and sustainability.

• Every production budget includes an amount of money, “a bit like a levy”, for sustainability.

• Practices and checklists created by Charlotte Ashby have been adopted. She’s head of production at UK company Carnival – both Matchbox and Carnival are under the NBCUniversal banner. Panckhurst describes Ashby as “hard core” on environmental matters.

• A sustainability meeting is held for each production early on. The focus is on company expectations, including no single use plastics, a preference for electric or hybrid

vehicles, at least one meat free day a week and a conscious steering away from beef.

• Actively encourage champions in each department to build awareness and encourage others.

Once it knew that a followup series was not going to be commissioned, Matchbox recently donated the props and costumes from Irreverent to someone setting up a hire business in Queensland. The recipient paid for transport.

The company used hybrid generators on season 2 of La Brea and The Spooky Files , says Panckhurst: “We know on La Brea we saved money. [Initially] we thought ‘We are going to do this even if it costs more’ but we saved so much diesel.”

By necessity it will take time

and monitoring to achieve clarity around the impact of environmental initiatives on budgets but she says: “All the little things add up and once systems are in place it doesn’t add much more time and money”.

Matchbox expects to roll out albert’s carbon tracking calculator shortly. It used the series Fires as a test case for calculating a carbon footprint.

“The greatest challenge is that we need leadership from all the political parties. There is a lack of infrastructure in Australia. There’s no fast trains. In the UK, NBCUniversal has banned internal flights. People have to use EVs or public transport. We want to get to that point. We are trying on all levels to put pressure on.”


THERE IS NO industry-wide obligation in Australia to measure the carbon footprint of productions, yet independent production house Southern Pictures is working towards doing exactly that on all its shows.

This move was prompted by an albert certificate being one of the BBC’s deliverables on the ABC/BBC series Miriam Margolyes: Australia Unmasked . It was the company’s first experience of environmental reporting.

“Myself and the production team had to go through all the production paperwork and do the calculations,” said Southern Pictures general manager Georgia Woodward. “It took many weeks to complete as we were focussed on doing it properly. But this also presented us with an exciting opportunity to look at our company systems and examine our reporting approach for further productions.”

She talks of both getting a lot of knowledge and satisfaction from the task, as well as its “sheer enormity”.

“You have to appropriately account

for everything. What meals did we eat on day 12 and how much meat was served? Where did the batteries used on day 48 go?”

She appreciated that the people working closely with her were as intrigued and inspired as she was. She is also adamant about the industry’s need to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Their [the BBC’s] approach is so correct and deeply important. They hold you to account – as we should be. We should know the actual cost [to the planet] of our productions.

“Luckily, we were able to do the calculations because we had all the information. Everyone could do it (on any production) if they wanted to. To save time and resources we’re now setting up measuring systems and production documentation, so everyone knows what has to be tracked.”

Woodward spoke at the Riding the Green Wave session at the Australian International Documentary Conference in March. Once it wrapped, some in the audience made it very clear to her that they didn’t know where to start.

Georgina Woodward: ‘I feel proud of the values of the business we’re building’.

“It’s about being curious. And it’s about not needing or trying to do everything all at once. I’m not interested in doing anything super groundbreaking, but I think every little bit counts and whatever your bit looks like you should do it.”

By little things she means asking questions, having the right bins so that waste can be disposed of appropriately, and being considerate about the products that are used in the office, from dishwashing detergent to paper, garbage bags and the sugar used in coffee and tea.

In November 2022, the company bought an existing building in Sydney to set up as their new headquarters. It includes four master edit suites. They were able to install solar panels, and now generate their own electricity.

Woodward often refers to the need to create “a culture of consciousness” about the industry’s environmental impact. Simply writing “there’s only one planet, so don’t support the use of plastic irresponsibly” on a call sheet reminds people of their responsibilities, for example. She also advocates using the colour green to designate which lines in the

Lingo is part of ITV’s climate action initiative

Now that ITV Studios has a majority share in Lingo Pictures, all the staff, cast and crew do ITV mandatory training and one of the four pillars of that training is sustainability. This applies to anyone who works more than five days on a production.

budget relate to environmentally specific deliverables.

The way she expresses the current state of play in the Australian industry is that “the whole thing is quite amorphous”. She assures those feeling apprehensive, that albert is a “really clear scaffolding” for measuring carbon emissions and its adoption will be a big benefit of the establishment of Sustainable Screens Australia.

“Right now, there’s a lot to be said for finding your own way to measure things and just doing the best you can. To us, there are three key questions. What type of reporting is required from the production unit to the corporate team? How is the production set up from an environmentally conscious point of view? That comes down to administration and operations – and asking simple questions. And what does that look like to our wider stakeholders?”

She says producers don’t want more paperwork and that is a hurdle. “But it is about values, consciousness, and simple accountability, about how you run your business. I feel proud of the values of the business we’re building.”

Lingo is also creating a climate action plan that it will be required to report on to the UK.

“We are stepping up the actions we are taking wherever possible,” says managing director Helen Bowden. “These include trying to use more sustainable options for travel and accommodation, using Zoom where possible, reducing the number of flights, buying offsets etc. Our headquarters is completely paperless and we’re reducing the use of paper in the production offices. We still print quite a large number of scripts at the start of pre, as most people don’t have screens that are suitable for those meetings, but all other documents –call sheets, schedules, cast and crew lists, safety reports etc – are distributed electronically. As are script amends.

“On the catering side we are still using single-use containers for meals, as we are still fighting COVID. But these and the cutlery are mostly biodegradable. We try to encourage the use of people’s own water bottles, coffee cups and cutlery. The After the Party crew gift included a personalised set of cutlery in a washable pouch.”

At the time of writing Lingo had four projects at various stages of production.

Miriam Margolyes harnessing ‘wind energy’ on the South Australian coastline during production for ‘Australia Unmasked’.

studios Honing in on


Tulloch wants reducing Docklands’ environmental impact to be a pillar of his tenure

CHIEF EXECUTIVE ANTONY Tulloch says he is taking a holistic approach to reducing the environmental impact of Docklands Studios Melbourne (DSM), knowing that “pain points” are reducing power consumption and improving waste management. A small internal working group keeps up the momentum with monthly meetings. The big initiatives are tracked along with the quick wins that are comparatively easy to achieve and, importantly, buoying for all involved. The latter has included the installation of site-wide LED lighting, improving the efficiency of air-conditioning and recycling systems, eliminating plastic water bottles, encouraging cleaners to use environmentally friendly products and using recycled paper. A plan is afoot to use kettles rather than have boiling water always on tap.

From what Tulloch says, it is challenging to collect the data and information required for a true understanding of the facility’s overall carbon footprint, and for the planning, implementation and monitoring of an effective decarbonisation plan.

“You need to find the real and relevant information. There is so much miscommunication about what’s required. You’ve got to crawl through the noise and find someone you resonate with.”

Talking to Tulloch flushes out many complexities about energy needs, tracking consumption and so on. With Docklands being state owned, it gets its energy under an overall deal that the Victorian Government has with an energy supplier. From talking directly with that supplier, Tulloch understands that the power DSM uses is carbon neutral because it is hydro, that is, a renewable energy source.

“But has the age of the facility the power comes from been factored in? Can they prove its carbon neutral? I have a burden of proof if I say its carbon neutral.”

There has been some exploration of introducing another renewable energy source, solar, to the site. It is understood that the roof of the newest stage, Stage 6, would handle the weight of solar panels but there are questions around it generating too much power and the impact of channelling that power into the grid.

“It’s not just about decarbonisation,” says Tulloch, “It’s also about the stability of the energy… If you can source 100 per cent renewable energy that goes a long way. We don’t have a timeline. We will comply with what government expects of us but we would prefer to be ahead.”

Big visions are required to effectively combat climate change: Perhaps that big Stage 6 roof could

be an opportunity to contribute to the energy needs of others nearby? The questions that raises – about fiscal responsibility, core business, the role of government and so on – are huge. Being government owned comes with social responsibilities and the need for regulatory compliance. Also, Tulloch adds, environmental considerations will increasingly feed into the decisions clients make about which facility they will hire.

“We always strive for improvement. It feels like walking a tightrope at times, but you just have to keep exploring. You might have efficient recycling, but how do you know what happens when the waste management company comes along and picks it up? There is always a trust factor – and there’s an immense amount of greenwashing.

“I’ve got kids, I like the outdoors and I’m very aware of climate change, air and water pollution, deforestation. Morally and from a values standpoint, it’s who I am.”

Tulloch has been at Docklands since March 2022. He wants reducing the studio’s environmental impact to be a pillar of his tenure, he says. He makes it very clear that he considers himself to be at the beginning of that journey.

“How we work with productions is complicated. We’re not here to police, we are here to support, to encourage more than to enforce, but that can be a delicate dance.”

Subsequent to this interview, Antony Tulloch switched Docklands over to green power June 1.

Worms rule at Disney Studios Australia

DISNEY STUDIOS AUSTRALIA has made various commitments towards what it calls “providing an environment where great stories and entertainment can be created sustainably”.

These include zero waste to landfill, net zero emissions for direct operations, 100 per cent zero carbon electricity, and minimising the amount of water used on the site by 20 per cent, all by 2030.

The Sydney studio has a small onsite worm habitat and the compost generated by all those little tubular invertebrates stays on site. The system is inadequate for big productions, however, according to commercial manager Melissa Thirtle. That said, early on, actor Chris Hemsworth’s chef, who was located

nearby, deposited his food scraps there during the filming of Thor: Love and Thunder

She says it was necessary to find a new company to service the organics stream recently – the shutdown of the previous company is believed to have been caused by big weather events.

“We have made really great progress in waste and the 90 per cent diversion-from-landfill goal has already been achieved,” say Thirtle, referring to all waste.

“We went to tender for all waste services in 2020,” she says. “We used to have multiple providers managing different streams, but it made more sense for one company to manage all of that on our behalf.

“It was challenging because we needed to find a supplier who would

divert our waste from landfill. A lot came in with a lot of promises for the future, but we chose one that was doing it already. There is no point waiting five to 10 years.”

The studio manages all waste services provided on site for both tenants and productions. Thirtle says much thought and research is now being put into energy acquisition and usage.

Village Roadshow Studios bins old chillers

IN THE LAST four years, eight airconditioning chillers at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast have been replaced, the final two this year, says president Lynne Benzie.

The efficiencies flowing from this better technology, and from a move away from the R22 gas used previously, are better for producers and the planet. Over the same period all the lighting has been replaced with LEDs, which are known for their energy efficiency and extended lifespan.

Replacing the chillers was not a simple task, says Benzie, it took a year for them to arrive after being ordered. Pulling out each old system and then installing a new one took another six to eight weeks. Each cost about $250,000, and productions had to be carefully scheduled around the work.

When it comes to the productions the studios host, at the moment it’s recycling that most occupies Benzie.

“What I flag with everyone is that we

need local councils and businesses on board. For a production to be sustainable at the level seen overseas, we need recycling facilities to be available and we need the whole community doing it.”

Education is required, she adds. Like many, she mentions how, when disposing of sets, the presence of nails or glue can contaminate a whole load of material.

“Because we are a dry hire facility, all the productions have responsibility for implementing procedures based on their requirements, but we work with them.”

Another of her concerns is how small productions with limited budgets can afford to get on board.

“Everyone is conscious that we all have to embrace sustainability and that there are many elements to be managed,” she says. “We have to work collectively. Having Sustainable Screens Australia means we will all have a blueprint. But how will it be monitored?”

Melissa Thirtle found that when Disney Studios Australia put all their waste services needs out to tender there was a lot of promises but she didn’t want to wait five or 10 years for them to be fulfilled.
Recycling is on Village Roadshow Studios president Lynne Benzie’s mind.


Environmental impact a big factor in Animal Logic’s Vancouver studio

WHEN THEN CHIEF operating officer – now co-CEO – Sharon Taylor interviewed companies bidding for the internal fit out of the Animal Logic (AL) studio that’s now under construction in Vancouver, she made it very clear that environmental impact was important.

“If you have left over pieces of timber, I want to make furniture out of it,” was one of the things she told them in order to ram home the message that

she wanted to minimise landfill.

The philosophy behind the design was to not be wowed by the aesthetics but to constantly challenge.

“Is it materials for materials sake? We had to find that balance. You might put in big windows, but then someone says they want privacy, so then you install beautiful blinds. It becomes layer upon layer, all of which has an impact,” she says.

If Taylor was overseeing a new build in Australia, she wouldn’t have acted differently she said, but Canada is

much further along in their thinking and that is an enormous help.

The Vancouver building is being constructed from the ground up as part of the Main Alley campus by Westbank, a 68,000 square metre zero carbon development built for the creative community. AL will have about 10,000 square metres of space spread over five floors. Capacity will be similar to the Sydney office with room for 500-600 people. That represents a doubling of the Vancouver workforce.

Logic’s Sharon Taylor, recently promoted to co-CEO, says if a company does reach net zero emissions, why not plant a tree anyway?

The AL’s heritage building in Sydney throws up a completely different set of challenges than a new building precisely because it’s old. Taylor says they’ve transitioned to green energy – for additional cost, but also explains that, nevertheless, they might be using electricity from the grid that was generated from fossil fuels because the supply won’t be 100 per cent green until all clients agree to go green.

All that computing grunt that AL uses for animation and visual effects uses a lot of power but the power used to keep the equipment cool has been reduced because of ‘free cooling’.

The classic way of compressor cooling uses the same air over and over. Cold air is moved to servers where it absorbs heat, is then rushed out by fans, cooled by compressors, returned to the servers again, and so on.

“Free cooling changes the equation: once the air gets hot near the servers, it’s let out into the environment [entirely or in parts] and new, cooler air from the outside replaces it,” says Taylor. “In many places in the world, the outside air is, for most of the year, cooler than the temperatures inside a data centre.”

This saving on energy is why free cooling is very quickly becoming the new norm.

Taylor talks of changing the mindset and having an influence beyond AL’s walls. The end-of-year gift to Sydney staff was a locally sourced lunch

satchel made out of recyclable material and including a silicon lunch pouch. Staff are reminded to turn off lights, use the right bins and so on, but also to check that their super funds are only investing in green companies.

When they replaced all the laptops in Sydney, the supplier was asked to pack them in bulk to reduce the use of carboard, Styrofoam and plastics – and not to bother to send an instruction manual for each. When Styrofoam unavoidably arrives, it is stored until there’s a big enough load to send off to a specialist recycler.

“We are making films for kids and want those films to be available forever – and forever is not looking good these days. Making good decisions is not that much harder. Getting to net zero might not be doable, but it doesn’t mean you don’t start somewhere.”

And if net zero is achieved, why not plant a tree anyway, she suggests –referring to how carbon offsetting is often based on restoring the environment. She also makes the point that talent is throwing its support around companies that care and this is forcing change.

“We are making films for kids and want those films to be available forever –and forever is not looking good these days”
Animal Logic Vancouver studio in the beginning.
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