New BFI report unveils shocking environmental impact of blockbuster filmmaking

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The carbon footprint of the average blockbuster is equal to eleven trips to the moon, according to a new report from the BFI.

The BFI has called for industry-wide changes to the current systems of blockbuster filmmaking, following the alarming reveal of just how environmentally damaging the average tentpole production can be.

The report makes for sobering reading, laying bare the current lack of sustainable practices in the segment of the film industry that uses the most resources by far, in getting a film made. After studying the production of 19 separate productions, all with budgets of over $70 million in both the UK and US, it found that the average movie production of this type creates 2,840 tons of greenhouse gas emissions… enough to travel to the moon 11 times.

Unsurprisingly, transport contributes hugely to this total, with air travel comprising roughly a third, whilst road travel comprises two thirds.

As a result, the BFI is calling for change, identifying major areas for action, including transforming energy and water use, changes to buildings and facility usage, location choices, production planning and production materials.

Tim Snelson, associate director at Arup, the engineering company commissioned to complete the report by the BFI said that “as we emerge from lockdown, we need to rethink our approach to filmmaking. If we simply pick up where we left off, we will miss our chance to deliver what is environmentally necessary. The changes suggested in this report can’t be implemented overnight and some of them require a new way of thinking, but grasping this challenge now will lead to improved efficiencies in the way we work, meaning more cash can be spent on what we see onscreen rather than what we have to currently send to landfill.”

It’s a shocking number, that will no doubt make many think twice about the impact that large-scale filmmaking is wreaking upon our planet. Kudos to the BFI for banging the drum in this regard. If anything good has come out of this year so far, it’s been a strong desire for change, and this report will hopefully be instrumental in developing positive environmental progression in Hollywood and beyond.

You can find the full report here.

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