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What is sustainable filmmaking?

What is sustainable filmmaking?

Explore the world of sustainable filmmaking with insights on eco-friendly materials, techniques, and technologies that prioritise the environment

Whether you’re concerned about the impact of filmmaking on the environment or you’re looking to make a move into the responsible filmmaking industry, here’s all you need to know about sustainability in filmmaking. 

What is sustainable filmmaking?

Also known as ‘green filmmaking’ or ‘eco-conscious filmmaking’, sustainable filmmaking is filmmaking whist eco-friendly materials, techniques and technologies to produce the highest quality films, with the least detrimental impact on the environment.  
In an industry widely regarded as having a significant negative impact on the planet, sustainable filmmaking aims to break down these barriers and reduce carbon emissions, preserve resources and consider the environment’s needs with every decision made in the filmmaking process.

Why is sustainable filmmaking important?

According to albert – BAFTA’s industry-backed sustainability project – the production of just one hour’s worth of TV content produces 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide. As for film, a big-budget blockbuster movie is estimated to produce an average of 2,840 tonnes of CO2 during production.

To put that into context, this would take almost 4,000 acres of forest an entire year to absorb. It’s clear from these statistics that something must be done to negate the impact of filmmaking on the environment – which is why sustainable filmmaking is becoming more and more crucial.

Sustainable practices in film production

It's not all doom and gloom. The great news is that sustainable practices are becoming more commonplace in modern filmmaking. Here are some examples: 

Transportation and logistics 

The cast, crew, equipment and materials need to be transported to and from filming locations which can have a massive impact on the environment, especially if the location is overseas. Implementing virtual production techniques, such as CGI or AR can create realistic backgrounds, sets and locations without the need for physical travel, which significantly impacts carbon emissions.

Where travel is essential, considering electric vehicles and carpooling is another way of negating impact.

Set and props 

The materials used in building sets and the props actors require, can have an impact on carbon emissions. Using recycled or reclaimed materials is a great way to combat this impact.

Energy usage 

Filmmaking requires a substantial amount of energy for lighting, air heating/cooling, equipment and facilities. Off-the-beaten-track film sets also often rely on generators for power, which have a negative impact on the environment. Opting for energy-efficient equipment and facilities, considering renewable energy sources, can significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

Waste management 

There’s often a lot of waste from a film’s production, which can end in landfill. Reusing, recycling or composting can help to reduce this negative impact.


Often overlooked, VFX, post-production editing and data storage consumes energy. Energy-efficient servers and data centres is something a sustainable filmmaker could consider. 

Promotion and Marketing 

Finally, once the film is made, the promo work begins. Things like travel to premiers, PR stunts and electronic billboards all contribute to carbon emissions. Online marketing channels and digital PR stunts can be much more environmentally friendly. 

As climate change becomes more and more apparent, it's crucial for each of us to contribute to mitigating its effects while there's still time. By altering their practices in filming, editing, and film storage, sustainable filmmakers and stakeholders have the potential to make a significant difference to the industry. 

Understand current trends with the online MA Film Practice ‘film industries’ module  

Public consciousness about the climate crisis is increasing by the day, which is one of the main reasons sustainable filmmaking, in particular, is snowballing at such a rate. 
The ‘film industries’ module of the AUB Online MA Film Practice focuses on building a critical framework and discovering methods that can support your understanding of film’s cultural and political role in relation to the wider creative industries.  
In recent decades, modes of film production and exhibition have undergone significant technological and societal shifts impacting industry structures and organisations in a myriad of ways. In response to such developments, this module seeks to broaden your sense of the cultural and industrial contexts of filmmaking, while equipping you with relevant knowledge to contextualise your practice and identify future career paths.  
The module will equip you with advanced research skills that support your independent investigation and creative thinking. Examining contemporary industries will demystify how films are made in key commercial or artistic environments, what production, distribution, marketing and exhibition processes are involved and how these impact your chosen professional specialisation.  
You’ll also explore methods of writing that can be employed to outline these complex processes and develop a critical argument in relation to your practice. Building on these skills and ideas introduced during the module, you’ll have a choice of two equivalent assessment routes to demonstrate your learning – the written or audio-visual essay.  

Are you interested in learning more about sustainable practices in filmmaking, as well as building your understanding of filmmaking concepts and techniques, and the wider creative industries? Our MA Film Practice is fully online, part-time and flexible, meaning you can expand your filmmaking knowledge on your own terms. 

Explore the course 

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