Eco-friendly Filmmaking

Last time I counted, I have a few billion of these in my closet.

I consider myself a lazy, moderately eco-friendly consumer; but when it comes to filmmaking, like many artforms, it’s not easy being green. I can’t honestly tell you that my switch from tape to tapeless media was motivated by the greenness of it all… but in light of this transition, I’ve had a few concerns. Namely, what to do with all of these (see picture)!!! Part of me wants to pile them up and burn the damn things… but then there’s the ozone and whatnot. Seriously though, there are too many different materials in a mini-dv tape to make recycling a viable option, unfortunately, so for the time being I’m just happy not to be buying stacks and stacks of them anymore.

However, a few related things have found nice re-purposing in my toolkit. The clear cases mini-dv tapes came in are just large enough to house an SD or CF card when you’ve lost those little plastic cases. Your card will rattle around a bit, but it’s solid-state media so this shouldn’t harm anything but your nerves. Furthermore, they’re a lot easier to throw a card into than some of these SD cases which require you to rotate the card into an exact position.

Then there’s those old tape labels lying around. If you’re using CF cards, there’s plenty of room on the back to write your name and contact info, but if you don’t care for that or you’re using SD cards, I’ve found these labels to be pretty handy… considering I have massive piles of them everywhere. They’re also good for labeling non-filmmaking stuff.

Other “green” filmmaking tips:

  • Scripts: If you have a lot of scripts to print, consider getting more on each page. PDFs and other docs will typically allow you to print front & back, 2-per page, or even 4-per page if your vision is up-to-par.
  • Web Rehearsal: Instead of driving to meet with your actors, you can arrange video chat sessions to go over lines, gestures, and emotions in a scene. (Thanks to Andy for this tip)
  • Carpool: This one’s obvious… We’ve traveled 30+ minutes for some of our shooting locations, and if you can pick people up along the way – do it! I usually try to organize schedules in such a way that carpooling won’t leave any cast/crew member stranded on set for too long waiting for someone else to finish their work.
  • Pack in, Pack out: Whether it’s garbage or recyclable, try to bring a bag for your crew’s waste when you’re on location. Hauling out your trash is one way to ensure you can recycle cans and water bottles after the shoot, and can also help your relationship with your location.

This list could definitely be longer, so leave a comment below if you have any creative suggestions to add. I’ll add them to the list, and hopefully add them to my workflow as I’m shooting!


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