Green TV Production on the rise in SA
The global shift towards the responsible production of TV content is picking up pace in South Africa, says Liesl Hattingh of WrapZERO
Responsible TV production is on the rise in South Africa as we can no longer ignore the impact that content production has on the environment. One region is working on industry guidelines, a training programme for Sustainability Production Assistants or Green Monitors in development, and comprehensive sustainability strategies, action plans and training being piloted on a number of productions.
KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC) is currently formulating industry guidelines for sustainable film and TV production in the province, leading the charge from a government perspective. The guidelines will cover practical steps filmmakers can take, and could inform local policy.
“Environmental sustainability issues are core to the mandate of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission,” notes spokesman Mu Ngcolosi. “Hence, the entity seeks to forge partnership with the community and the filmmakers to become responsible users and advocates for environmentally sustainable programmes.”
The guidelines will be relevant to local realities but informed by global best practice, as seen in the Producers’ Guild of America’s Green Production Guide and the UK’s Albert+ rating system, for example, which some local service companies have already had to report into as part of servicing international productions. Green Screen is a Film London initiative currently rolling out into Sweden, Belgium, France, Romania, Spain, Poland and Slovakia.
Going beyond mere data collection for reporting into certification systems is the next step for major international broadcasters. Take the UK’s ITV and BBC, for example. ITV became a carbon-neutral business in 2018 after having reduced emissions by more than 52% over a five-year period and offsetting all direct emissions from business operations, travel and energy use. It has grappled with ways to effectively gauge the economic cost of its carbon emissions, related to environmental and social impacts, and recently launched a comprehensive Social Purpose strategy that commits the broadcaster to a 1.5C science-based target aligned with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.
Other targets include zero single-use plastics used in operations, productions and ITV’s supply chain; supporting SME suppliers to improve their environmental impact; ensuring all staff and freelancers are provided with environmental awareness training and achieving 100% Albert certification for programmes ITV produces and commissions.
The BBC publishes detailed performance reports on their Green Broadcasting initiative, which similarly covers a range of targets around sustainable production, procurement and operations.
SA production company Film Afrika is already meeting these new industry challenges by implementing comprehensive sustainability strategies, targets and actions plans with support from consultancy WrapZERO. These measures ensure accurate and timely data collection and reporting as required for international reporting, while equally importantly reducing the production’s carbon footprint and increasing resource efficiencies.
Most recently with Raised by Wolves – the Ridley Scott, serialised sci-fi series – Film Afrika has been piloting a replicable model for sustainable film production that strives to be an internationally recognised, carbon-neutral production footprint.
“Our goal is to strive to ensure all our productions are carbon neutral. Aside from an overall strategy and clear targets, Raised by Wolves has rolled out supporting actions across departments,” comments Belinda Johnson, Creative Producer at Film Afrika.
Raised by Wolves Line Producer Cheryl Eatock concurs: “Every single department on our production has literally changed the way we source, manufacture and recycle. The impact has been huge and the knock-on effect of this changed behaviour is clearly seen in our data, but more importantly in all crew on this production.”
Raised by Wolves is also a training ground for the first South African Sustainability PAs or Green Monitors. GreenSet and WrapZERO are co-developing an accredited Film Industry Sustainable PA or Green Monitor skills programme to help implement integrated, triple bottom line sustainability measures during the course of every production.
“Our hope is that all film companies both in the long-form and commercial sector will join the Sustainable Film Forum and engage with WrapZERO and GreenSet – a non-profit subsidiary of the SA FILM Academy – in rolling out green productions,” Johnson adds.
The soon-to-be-published industry guidelines for KZN follow on research conducted last year by WrapZERO on behalf of the KZNFC in the form of the first baseline study on the resource use and environmental impact (including carbon footprint) of productions. Download the full report from the KZNFC website.