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GOING GREEN - Big Green Apple: NYC Film Green Program Is Open For Enrollment

Posted By Claudine Marrotte and Christina Delfico, Friday, June 9, 2017

New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MoME) has tapped PGA Green to advise on the creation of “NYC Film Green,” the groundbreaking sustainability initiative that recognizes and encourages film and television productions to go green.

NYC production is unique because our back lot is part of a living, working city. For productions to be successful we have to interact directly with the community. That proximity creates added challenges, making it particularly important for PGA members to build strong relationships with the city.

With that in mind, in 2016, PGA East Committee members welcomed the new MOME Commissioner, Julie Menin, in a face-to-face meeting where she was briefed on PGA efforts across the board, including diversity and anti-piracy initiatives as well as PGA Green’s work to help the media industry go green. During the meeting, PGA Green highlighted production efforts to reduce waste, showcased the GreenProductionGuide.com toolkit, and spotlighted productions like Madam Secretary and Sesame Street, which are working hard to create sustainable sets.

Seeking to address the environmental impact of increased TV and film production in NYC and inspired by PGA Green Committee’s leadership on this issue, Menin hosted “Greening our Screens: Encouraging Sustainable TV/Film Production Practices in NYC,” a roundtable discussion with industry leaders and local government officials to discuss the goal of increasing sustainable film production practices in New York City. The result was a constructive and actionable conversation about how New York City could work with industry leaders to encourage best practices and industry standards for sustainable television and film production.

Cast member Eric Stolz talks green production
on the set of Madam Secratary 

NYC Film Green was born from conversations with various industry stakeholders following the roundtable discussion and with the support of key sustainability leaders, including members of PGA Green.

 “There is currently more filming activity in New York City than ever before,” announced Menin. “While this provides countless reasons to celebrate, we also want to be mindful of how this impacts our environment on both a local and global scale. NYC Film Green makes New York the first governing body in the country to implement a sustainability program for the entertainment industry. We believe it will make a significant and quantifiable positive impact and pave the way towards industry-wide adoption of eco-friendly practices.”

Michael Stricks, co-executive producer of Divorce, enthusiastically endorsed the initiative: “As we were looking to establish some energy-saving, environmentally friendly practices on the production of Divorce, we learned about the NYC Film Green pilot program from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. By partnering with them and PGA Green, along with the assistance of the HBO Community Impact team, we were able to place an ‘Eco Production Assistant’ on the set of Divorce to implement environmental sustainability one step at a time.”

NYC Film Green is a voluntary designation program that is currently in the pilot phase and will be opening enrollment to scripted episodic television and feature film productions that shoot at least one day in New York City during summer, 2017. 

Productions that enroll in NYC Film Green must participate in a number of sustainable practices in order to receive the “NYC Film Green” designation. They will be utilizing the greenproductionguide.com carbon calculator which was co-created by PGA Green and its studio sponsors. Core practices required to receive the designation include:

  • Tracking and making a plan to reduce the production’s carbon footprint
  • Waste diversion, by means of donation or resale of usable items
  • Practices to increase recycling on set and clearly identifying how to sort landfill, organic waste and recyclables
  • Reduction of transportation-related emissions by renting fuel-efficient cars when available and encouraging crew to use public transportation
  • Implementing a plan within the production’s lighting department to reduce power and electricity use
  • Providing opportunities to educate crew and staff on the importance of responsible eco-behavior, as well as training on sustainability best practices

It starts with waste reduction awareness and education. Once producers realize the potential savings of going green and learn which eco-vendors meet their show’s zero waste goals, it becomes easier to get the green ball rolling. As Sesame Street’s coordinating producer, Mindy Fila states, “Make goals. Start with reducing paper or removing single-use plastic water bottles. Don’t try to do 20 things right out of the get-go, because you will be overwhelmed, especially when the main focus is always making great quality content for the show.”

Shipping and paper costs are cut when scripts go digital, while excess food can be donated locally to feed the hungry. The key is to plan ahead for the end use of waste in each department and to communicate to all involved that the production is going green.

 Script supervisor Jennifer Capra and producer Mindy Fila share Sesame Street's digital script with Big Bird

Earth Angel’s eco-supervisor, Emellie O’Brien, states, “Sustainability in film production has mostly taken place at the studio level. This program is critical for the expansion of sustainable production beyond the studio level, because the local infrastructure needs to be in alignment. Largely recognition-based, NYC Film Green will engage people in friendly competition to build momentum for running sustainable productions.”

Line producer Stephanie Longardo at Sesame Street says she actually found that the green initiative reduced the budget. Her message to others: “Don’t be afraid of it, just do it. It’s not going to negatively affect your bottom line; it’s only gonna help. It is just not as hard as you think it’s going to be. You can’t go wrong.”

Lori McCreary, PGA President and an executive producer of the CBS hit show Madam Secretary, believes the “NYC Film Green” designation will showcase the work of green productions and allow producers, cast and crew to take even more pride in their efforts. “I encourage every producer to green their sets,” she declares. “It’s easy and the right thing to do.”

For your next scripted film or television series shooting in New York City, join MOME’s initiative and be a part of reducing our industry carbon footprint.

Tags:  going green 

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