This article is the third in a series exploring how different film production departments can implement sustainability practices on set. Follow the author of this article, Jasmine Alkire, and follow Prodigium Pictures’ Medium publication for more articles on how film productions can be made more sustainable.
Art, by definition, “is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.” Art departments on film sets put their creative skills and imagination to use every day to create sets and props. The fine details, from the carefully chosen props to the craftsmanship of the carpentry team, help bring the story to life. However, art departments sometimes work with harsh or toxic chemicals (paints, aerosols, etc.), and can be a major source of waste on set. Luckily, there are many ways to help bring your mood boards to life in an eco-conscious way.
5 ways the Art Department can introduce sustainable practices on a film set :
1. You can sell excess lumber and metal scraps
When making the necessary purchases for your carpentry/metalwork try to account for companies that would purchase any used or excess materials. There have already been a number of feature productions that have succeeded in reselling materials such as steel and lumber. Scott Franklin, producer of films such as “Noah” told the LA Times that his film, “Noah” was able to make about $45,000 in revenue from selling scrap steel. If more productions take some extra time to do the research it creates less waste and while increasing your production’s ROI via some extra cash.
2. Opt for environmentally friendly materials
Most paint contains harmful toxins called VOCs. Short term, these toxins can irritate eyes, throats, or cause dizziness and trouble breathing. Long-term exposure to these toxins can cause damage to the liver and nervous system, Dr. Jill Seladi-Schulman from Healthline reported.
Shop for paints that are free of hazardous toxins, such as Behr Premium Plus, Bio Shield, Backdrop, and Benjamin Moore Eco Spec. These VOC-free paints, primers, and finishers are the healthier and safer option for everyone involved, and the best alternative when it comes to the planet, too.
3. Donate! Donate! Donate!
Donating is always an option. When it comes to unused or slightly-used items in every department, there is always someone out there who will be more than grateful for items you may think are just scraps. From props to lumber, everything can be reimagined for other filmmakers to use, or even become materials for the next scene at a local theater company’s production. A quick google search of local schools or companies who will accept donations takes a short amount of time for a big reward.
4. Second-hand shopping is always a win.
Film studios such as Warner Brothers offer prop rentals along with other companies that may be in your area. LA-based Recycled Sets offers everything from lumber and steel structures to greenery and gallery walls. On a smaller scale, shopping for furniture to decor at a local vintage store helps the community and planet all while curating a unique set.
5. How to properly dispose of paint and aerosol cans
Spray paint is a beloved material by those in the art department. However, just like paint, these aerosol spray paint cans contain VOCs which imposes a huge risk when not properly disposed of. If empty, aerosol cans are recyclable in the same bin as aluminum. If not, reuse the cans or donate until it’s time to recycle. There are companies such as Paint Care and Clean Earth that offer services or will locate stores who will accept used and unfinished products.
The Google search may take a few extra minutes, but actively making these sustainable switches for your production will create a healthier environment all while minimizing your carbon footprint. The next time you need a lamp for a character’s bedroom, try vintage shopping or pulling one from a rental showroom. Plus renting, or even selling, set materials will save, or even earn, money for your production! Who doesn’t love that?
Follow Prodigium Pictures for more insights on on-set sustainability, purpose-driven marketing, social impact entertainment, video production, and more! You can also visit our website www.prodigum-pictures.com to view our past work and learn more about our mission.