by Bobby Amm. When it comes to climate change, there is hope. If we can all (production companies included) implement more-sustainable methods of doing business, then we can slow, or potentially even stop, the rising temperatures across the globe.

Water crises [Cape Town will be implementing level 6B water restrictions from February 2018, with Day Zero — the day the city’s tap run dry — predicted to happen in April 2018 — ed-at-large], flash floods, and other previously unheard of natural disasters. If you didn’t think global warming was upon us before, there’s little doubt about it now. And it isn’t just your ethical duty to do something about it… With experts warning us that entire cities and even lower-lying nations of people could be displaced by rising ocean levels, your survival could be dependent on it too.

Greening production

Many of South Africa’s commercials depend on the beauty and function of our environment — so if our lives as we know it aren’t enough to make a change, the sustainability of our industry should be. With access to so many players in the field, production companies are also the ideal leaders when it comes to lowering the environmental impact of the industry as a whole.

Further, Adgreen, the leader in green production in the UK, notes that, “as with anything, demand drives supply. If we want cheaper low-energy lighting, enough people have to start using it. If we want our studios to provide recycling facilities, or real plates from our caterers, we have to ask for them and make it clear why we want these things.”

The bottom line? The more of us who change for the better, the cheaper and easier making these changes will become.

A few simple steps

In the years to come, ‘green’ processes will all be regulated anyway. So, while it may seem like a daunting an unnecessary task right now, adopting a cleaner production strategy means you’ll get a head start. Plus, with the guidance of organisations such as Adgreen, it’s not that difficult. Here’s a South-Africanised version of its Five Easy Things that you can do immediately to help reduce your production’s carbon footprint:

  1. Reduce your printing

In today’s digital age, it’s absurd that any of us are still printing call sheets, treatments, or invoices — especially since there are several approaches you can adopt instead, such as:

  • Using cloud services such as Dropbox, annotation apps, and digi-signing tools for invoices
  • Using digital pre-production meeting callsheets and books instead of paper
  • Printing one set of the storyboards, schedule, scripts and callsheets and displaying these on set. instead of printing numerous copies for all
  1. Ditch polystyrene & correx

Neither polystyrene nor correx (the plastic floor protection often used on locations) are recyclable. In future, rather:

  • Display shoot documents on noticeboards instead of polystyrene
  • Ask caterers to supply real plates or a compostable alternative
  • Ask your DP and electrical team to use reusable alternatives to polystyrene
  • Use ram board, a recycled and recyclable alternative to correx, which comes in rolls
  1. Reduce water bottles

Bottled water contributes significantly to waste costs. Reduce this by:

  • Hiring table-top water coolers for your location. These are collected, sanitised and refilled, so there’s virtually no waste
  • Asking attendees to bring their own water bottles, or provide them with reusable bottles that they may use and refill on every set
  • Supplying glasses or compostable cups
  1. Rehome your leftovers

If you’ve ever been on set, you know how much food and other stuff may go to waste. Here are a couple of ways reduce your leftovers:

  • Donate leftover food to a charity such as Food Forward SA
  • Donate props and costumes to charities such as Hospice
  1. Recycle & compost

Recycling is getting easier in SA; many organisations will even collect and sort it for you. For instance, you could use:

  • A waste management provider, such as WastePlan (Cape Town)
  • Or a recycling collection service, such as ECOmonkey (Johannesburg)

What else you can do

Adgreen’s Five Easy Things are just the tip of its proverbial iceberg. You may also use its office check list and dozens of other tips designed specifically for the production industry. It’s a priceless resource for one of today’s most-critical concerns.

The grass is greener where you water it, they say. The same sentiment counts for us. After all, in our gorgeous country, why wouldn’t you want to preserve the beauty that is such an integral part of the work we do?

See also


Bobby AmmBobby Amm is chief executive of the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the trade association of production companies that produce television, cinema and internet commercials for the local and international market. After a brief stint in journalism, she began her career in the industry at the Consultative Committee for the Entertainment Industry in the early 1990s. She first joined the CPA in 1997 but left three years later to join a production company. After finding that she missed the big-picture perspective of the CPA and the interesting issues which continuously perplex the production industry, Bobby returned to the CPA in 2003. She contributes “The Martini Shot” column monthly, covering developments, trends and insights into the commercial production and film services industries in South Africa, to MarkLives.

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