Green Film Production

Simply slapping the word “green” onto something isn't instantly going to make change happen. Many industries are still unaware or indifferent to their actions towards the environment when it comes to applying sustainable practices to their line of business. So how exactly does the world of film and entertainment differ in comparison?


Green film production, also known as sustainable film production, is a process that aims to create films in an environmentally conscious way. The goal of the approach is to reduce the environmental impact of film production through eco-friendly practices, thereby reducing energy consumption, waste, and pollution for a sustainable future.

Suggesting that sustainable living and its equated PR buzzwords like “going green” are a trend of the past is far from the truth. A growing number of consumers are becoming more conscious about the impact their actions and attitudes have on the environment – meaning, they're going to be pickier about the products and services they purchase, including movies.

Now, the word “green” isn’t usually synonymous with the world of entertainment. But the film industry has since had its own awakening and is keen on adapting to new changes by actively working to transform how they produce content.


Concerns over the environment are at an all-time high. With no stringent laws on standardized sustainable practices taking effect, the media and entertainment industry is looking to step up its movie-making game for consumers.

Typically when we consider filmmaking, most movie-goers only think about the final product. Few pay attention to the number of resources and toll it takes to produce a movie from start to finish. Going by our preconceived notion of the industry, we attribute it to leaving a large carbon footprint rather than contributing to solutions surrounding the welfare of the environment.

However, in recent years the film industry has adopted many strategies and tactics employed by the notion of green film production. Not only are they cost-effective and positively impact the environment, but they also provide various social benefits.


Environmental impact

It should come as no surprise that the film industry is quite resource-intensive, often generating significant amounts of waste and greenhouse gas emissions (mainly due to transportation). And while this will be dependent on the filming location, non-renewable sources of energy like fossil fuels continue to be used as a standard method of generating energy in remote areas around the world.

As one of the largest industries capable of leaving a lasting impact on the environment, sustainable filmmaking practices can help reduce the environmental impact of film production. By using renewable energy sources and reducing energy consumption, green film production methods can help reduce the carbon footprint of the film industry while still meeting production demands.

Economic benefits

Budgets are always a discussion in any film production, so the thought of incorporating green production methods may sound more costly than it seems. On the contrary, sustainability and cost-effectiveness can go hand in hand.

Applying eco-friendly measures to film production can lead to cost savings, improve overall production efficiency, and increase competitiveness in a rapidly changing market.

Building a newfound reputation

As already mentioned, consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the products and services they purchase. In an industry where the representation of social issues/addressing global issues is everything, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can enhance its reputation and attract more socially conscious customers.

The industry can build a positive reputation by promoting environmental values and challenging the existing status quo. Furthermore, this initiative will help them stay relevant with the times and establish themselves as pioneers in a future where ecological concerns will be increasingly important.

Influence eco-friendly lifestyles

Highlighting the concept of green film production can encourage crew members and the public to change aspects of their behavior or attitude that could otherwise negatively impact the environment. And this is where the film industry can use its influence to inspire change, encourage others to adopt eco-friendly habits into their lifestyles, and drive change toward a sustainable future.

Social responsibility

In a time of change, the film industry has a unique opportunity to educate and inspire audiences on environmental and social issues through its storytelling and content. Adopting sustainable practices can help align the industry with broader efforts to address environmental and social challenges.


Each stage of film production consists of multiple steps that ensure the smooth transition of work to the next phase of production. Now, it's no secret that filmmaking is a complex system that involves numerous smaller parts that work together to ensure an overall functioning system. In the case of green filmmaking, even the smallest element can affect the production in its entirety.


As the name suggests, pre-production is one of the earliest stages of film production. Often coupled with the developmental stages of filmmaking, pre-production branches out to many areas that will prepare a film for shooting and enable the cast and crew to start the next phase of work.

It is an especially critical stage in filmmaking that can set the foundation for sustainable practices throughout the entire production process and help minimize the project's environmental impact.

Strictly speaking, while the majority of the work has slowly transitioned to a digital space, where scriptwriting is concerned, there are other areas in which pre-production can help keep waste to a minimum:

Limit printing

With a diversity of modern tools now available to help keep documents (i.e., call sheets, scripts, schedules, etc.) secure and accessible on a mobile device, printing them out is a thing of the past. Proactively limiting the use of printed material can play a significant role in reducing the overall energy and cost exhausted during production.

Research, scout, and select eco-friendly locations

Productions often call for all sorts of resources (i.e., electricity, water, etc.) on set, all of which must be accounted for when transporting materials to and from locations in the real world.

Finding a filming location that can serve multiple scenes will not only help keep travel/transportation expenses low, but will play a significant role in minimizing the carbon footprints of every individual on production. Alternative solutions, such as studios or sets, should also be considered when evaluating the clean-up and maintenance required after shooting on a scouted location.

Employ an expert

Hold someone accountable for the actions of the project. Employing the help of a consultant/expert on green film production can further ensure that management practices are being implemented and properly used on a project.

Though it can often set you back in the budget (especially for small-scale films), an environmental consultant can be more beneficial in the long run. Such individuals can help identify problems in pre-production and on set, offer constructive criticism for the crew, and implement consequences for project shareholders.


With the ground rules now set in pre-production, it will be up to the cast and crew to execute manageable, sustainable practices on set. The goal of this stage, in particular, will be to ensure that everyone is working in an environmentally responsible manner:

Sustainable catering

Minimizing single-use plastics and incorporating biodegradable food containers and reusable water bottles will help production stay in line with the goal of sustainability.

However, executing sustainable catering to that degree isn't in every production's budget. Instead, implementing effective recycling measures will allow everyone to do their part on set.

Electric or hybrid vehicles

Realistically, even with eco-friendly locations finalized for filming, eliminating the aspect of travel is hard to implement in production. Decision makers can instead opt for electric or hybrid forms of transportation and encourage carpooling among crew members to minimize vehicular pollution.

Energy-efficient lighting and equipment

Before filming can begin, it will be imperative to consider the different energy-efficient equipment available for the shoot. With new technology emerging every day, there will most likely be equipment, such as lighting, that can help conserve energy on set while filming.

Collect Data and Create Awareness

If your crew isn't even aware of more efficient equipment or the impact of transportation on the production's emissions, it will not be as keen on reducing the CO2 footprint as it could be. On top of that, you can't choose a more efficient way of doing things if you don't know how much emission two variants cause. Therefore, collecting data about the energy necessary to move a car, an airplane, heat a location, and much more is crucial.

In addition to collecting data, sharing it using suitable sustainability software tools is just as important. As soon as your crew knows about the impact of individual decisions, they will also be more motivated to adapt their behavior, and, for example, not necessarily have meat included in the catering.


Post-production is the final stage, where a film is assembled before being released for distribution. Although much of this stage already rely on technology to piece together a final product, digital solutions can help further reduce the environmental impact of editing:

Green technology

While not all cloud-based technologies are created equal, they are a great alternative to storing and accessing digital assets online. Data stored on local hardware often rely on fossil fuels to power its systems, implying high maintenance costs and ample power supplies, resulting in tons of electricity loss. Introducing digital solutions in post-production can encourage the use of renewable energy sources and help reduce the impact on the environment.


Change is often met with resistance. And green film production is no different. While the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages when applying environmentally conscious practices to filmmaking, there will be several challenges to overcome on the road to sustainability.


It may be hard to believe that adopting methods that cut the cost of specific resources, thereby reducing a production’s carbon footprint, can have costly repercussions. While this is not true for all cases, implementing new practices in any system will require some initial investment. It can involve purchasing supplies needed for production at an additional cost. Cloud-based storage solutions and energy-efficient equipment are often more expensive than traditional options, which can be a financial constraint for film productions on a tight budget.


Without concrete methods in place when adopting sustainable practices, productions can mistakenly believe that their approach is significantly contributing to the welfare of the environment when in reality, there isn’t much being done.

Much of this inaccuracy can be attributed to the dynamic nature of filmmaking. Production is already a complex process involving multiple steps and stages - but constant changes can make it challenging to measure the impact of sustainable practices on one specific action.

Moreover, collecting data without a standardized system can make it difficult to track the impact of green filmmaking practices over time, especially when comparing data with different productions using their metric system.


Despite the constraints of implementing green film production methods, the benefits will significantly outweigh the cons over time. So while there may be no immediate results to account for the amount of work put into adopting green filmmaking practices, the long-term effects will gradually become more evident.

Change is inevitable. Taking steps early on will put the film industry ahead of the game and prevent further environmental damage.