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How the film industry is making progress in environmental and social sustainability

May 25, 2023

European film industry professionals shared some of the policy measures and practical steps their countries have taken to drive progress in the areas of environmental and social sustainability in a British Film Commission and Screen International round table in Cannes.

Drawing on the experiences of the UK and other European film commissions, as well as studios and production companies, the roundtable was attended by Meghan Beaton, CEO of the Norwegian Film Commission; Arie Bohrer, Film In Austria film commissioner; Joanna Gallardo, institutional relations manager at the Film Paris Region; Dietlind Rott, CEO of the Lower Austria Film Commission and Evergreen Prisma; sustainability consultant Louise Smith of Neptune Sustainability; Lyndsay Duthie, CEO of the Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB); and Adrian Wootton, CEO of the British Film Commission (BFC).

Bohrer flagged that Austria introduced a cash rebate for film and TV production in January, comprising a 30% cash rebate for each project and an additional 5% eco-friendly bonus, based on the implementation of certain environmental sustainability criteria. Bohrer said 60% of productions that have applied for the funding this year had also applied for the additional green rebate.

The Lower Austrian Film Commission, meanwhile, is regarded as an international pioneer in climate-friendly production, and Rott cited its Evergreen Prisma programme. It offers digital tools including a carbon calculator, a green filming academy and a network of experts in sustainable production.

In Norway, Beaton picked out the Green Producers Tool, a web-based resource that helps producers to log and calculate CO2 emissions from their productions. The Green Producers Tool automatically grants membership to the Green Producers Club, which hosts regular seminars and workshops, and a chance to meet across sectors and countries.

Gallardo stressed the importance of organisations such as Film Paris Region actively embracing more environmentally friendly measures themselves, such as taking the train to Cannes rather than flying. “It’s important to look at yourself,” she said. Film Paris Region is part of the French Ecoprod association and also offers the Ecobonus scheme.

Smith flagged initiatives in the UK such as Film London’s Grid project, an innovative scheme that supplies renewable energy to productions in the capital, and the BFC’s Stage Space Design Strategy, which examines how studios can be built or retro­fitted to be more sustainable.

She also noted how Albert sustainable production certification is now a requirement from all of the main broadcasters in the UK, which has helped to drive forward change. Inward investment projects into the UK will run under Albert or the Green Production Guide.

Duthie said producers feel they cannot shoulder the responsibility for making productions more sustainable on their own. She noted that PGGB had created a sustainability action group to share best practice among producers.

The panel also covered social sustainability, skills and training. Wootton outlined some of the UK’s challenges and progress on the issue, flagging initiatives such as the BFI Skills review and the work of the Industry Skills Taskforce.

“The pace of change has suddenly started to accelerate,” said Wootton, who explained he was feeling more optimistic than in many years about progress in terms of diversifying the workforce of the film industry.

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