After working on M&S at Park Pictures, next I headed off to th2ng, to production manage a Schweppes job, directed by Justin Dickel for Spanish agency China Madrid. Again we were at Black Island, and as before they supplied Vegware compostable plates and bowls, as well as real mugs, as per the requests we'd sent them from the Questions to ask the Studio & Caterer page. We also encouraged water bottle refill and had no plastic water bottles on set (those who didn't bring them were given a reusable bottle by the studio). It has to be said that a studio shoot makes it much easier to act more sustainably with easy access to drinking water, and no need for diesel guzzling generators. However, the ad was pretty post heavy, so there were some big set pieces to think about.
The first big question was what would happen to the large polycarved iceberg with art director Lucie Red and I put our heads together on straight away. Polystyrene is one of the hardest materials to recycle, but we contacted Scenary Salvage, a company dealing with set storage and recycling. Scenary Salvage collect from shoots for a small transport fee (which is often comparable if not cheaper than disposal charges) and after breaking down the sets and props to recover any materials that can be reused, any leftover materials are recycled. However as we got a little further into the process, we saw an opportunity to make a little money back, arranging to sell the iceberg to Hamilton Ice. The SFX company provided ice for our close-ups and bought the prop iceberg to use at their trade shows. Proof that if you don’t ask you don’t get: we not only found it a good home, but saved a little on our art department budget in the process! Here's the iceberg's journey from fabrication to it's new home...
The second item on our green hit list were the 800-odd lemons that had been purchased from New Covent Garden the night before the shoot began. Knowing we would have these leftover very early on in pre-production, we contacted City Harvest prior to the shoot. Picking up leftover food from all over London, City Harvest are a fantastic charity and they are looking to develop stronger links with film studios and production teams. Once we’d let them know when they were due to be purchased and when they’d be ready for collection, they organised to come and get the lemons from Black Island on wrap, and then distributed them to a local school the following day ready for lemonade making lessons with the kids! If you know prior to your shoot that you’re going to have a food leftovers, do get in touch with Mark (email@example.com) at City Harvest to see if they can benefit from what you have to offer. Pickup is free, and they are very flexible.
Lastly, the costume. Budget constraints meant most of the wardrobe was purchased from ASOS, but costume designer David Hawkins and myself were determined to do something good with the 20 or so smart outfits they were going to be left with on wrap. As a rule, David usually sells any leftover items that can’t be returned at an annual car boot, donating profits to charity. However, on this occasion due to the nature of the costume, we decided to pass the items on to Suited and Booted, a charity based at Blackfriars which collects smart menswear (usually for free within central London) and provides outfits for those getting back on their feet and needing something to wear for a job interview.
As with M&S, the key to success once again was communication. Talking to heads of department as early as possible, and anticipating items that would need a new home at the end of the shoot meant that we could put some great solutions in place with minimal effort. An email each to Scenary Salvage, Suited and Booted and City Harvest got the conversation going, and all that remained was to confirm a pickup time.
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.