Welcome to another green production case study! This time around production manager Caroline Milsom talks about her recent shoot, creating visuals for The Chemical Brothers’ latest tour...
"If i’m honest, it hasn’t previously been a conscious intention to consider the environment when I started a new job. I’d definitely put my awakening down to AdGreen’s Green Production Get Togethers, which opened me up to ways in which I could get more creative and engaged in sustainable production. The 3rd event in the series had taken place just before I began this particular job, so it was fresh in my mind going into it.
On day one I spoke with the studio (3 Mills) and Ollie Tiong, the art director, about how we would wrap. I started on the production two weeks before the shoot, and having looked at the boards, I knew we were going to have a fair amount of prop and set leftovers. The studio provided a great handbook with a list of companies (including new green/community led initiatives), and this inspired me to contact Jo at AdGreen to seek out even more rehoming tips.
A couple of days in I learned that we were going to have a rehearsal with our dancers prior to the shoot, and there was talk of getting 50 sheets of correx to cover the floor so that the they could rehearse barefoot. Correx can’t currently be recycled so I spoke to Jo at AdGreen about possible alternatives, and she suggested Locamats or Ramboard, or potentially arranging to use secondhand correx. I looked into a few of these options, however after investigation the companies that could have helped us with used Correx weren’t travelling in our direction and also didn’t have the amount that we required. I got a quote for Locamats. Before booking, I queried with the producer Matthew Cummins whether it was necessary and as a result, we opted for trainers on feet instead, and ditched the floor covering idea all together! This saved a lot of potential waste - and also money.
In the case of the art department, Ollie Tiong put together a breakdown detailing parts of the set that could be reused versus bits that would likely be sent to the skip. I took this plan and set about working out how to rehome as many items as possible. Jo had also mentioned Dresd to me, a company specialising in building sets from reclaimed materials who can also consult on breaking them down in a way that saves as many materials as possible. They can also act purely as a transport service, collecting items to go into their store in Cardiff, to be reused on future productions. However on this occasion I opted to try and rehome everything locally, keeping Dresd in my back pocket just in case.
As is typical, Ollie’s action plan slipped down my to do list as organising the shoot itself took priority. As I waited for answers from recycling companies I had contacted, I jeopardised the deadline for confirming our skip which had to be in place by the time we wrapped on the final day. At the end of our second day, once everything else had been taken care of, I took to social media. I posted the items we were going to have on Set Swap Cycle on Facebook, put a snap on Instagram (with all the relevant hashtags) and advertised on Gumtree.
What ensued was a mad virtual yard sale, which saw me chatting with a wide variety of characters from different industries, and checking in with art department for updates on prospective wrap times of various items in order to arrange collection times. I enjoyed it - although it was far from my ideal and did add to my workload, it was definitely rewarding. By the end of the day we had given our bathtubs away to a private property developer, our plinths to an artist, our miscellaneous bungee cords, paint and other bits and bobs to a local art director, the colouramas to the family of our director Adam Smith (for making murals), and our old rope had gone to our sailing DIT. Happy days! In the end, I was able to book in a single waste collection for production waste and avoided the need for a skip.
When I embark on this next time, I would definitely action things earlier via social media - although we made it work, it was a bit of a last minute scramble! I’d also implement a waste management plan for production waste - being at 3 Mills meant we had to handle it ourselves which was new to me, but did highlight that reducing waste would reduce the cost of any collection we would need. I’ll also be getting to grips with Quantum Waste for waste/ recycling/ food waste next time I’m on location. Ramboard is now my floor protection of choice - I’ve got some for my short film shoot so I’ll be keeping hold of that for reuse!
The experience has left me keen to be more environmentally conscious and to be aware of the wider context in which we do our work. I’m very proud of my first stab at it and the warm glow I got from the wonders of waste management! By thinking about the world around me and our production within it, I saw how blinkered I tend to become when committed to getting the work done. By opening up the possibility of working with our community, I became profoundly aware of how many excuses I usually make, how I compromise my ethics, and contribute to wastefulness of this industry. With the bigger picture in mind, I found myself thinking outside the box and being more creative. The challenge of it actually made the shoot more fun - it felt like a game rather than a headache!
Thanks AdGreen! Onwards and upwards…"
To help you on your shoot, check out our resources section, with tips for production teams, agency staff and crew. If you're UK based and working directly in production or creative, you can also attend one of our training sessions. Our FAQ section covers various topics from waste reduction to offsetting. If you'd like to help inspire others by sharing your innovative sustainable production solutions, get in touch. Just 3 or 4 points and a few images is enough for us to put together a case study.