Perma Collective, McCann and Alice Timms share their insights into how production teams, agencies and styling can collaborate to reduce, record and review carbon emissions.

Takeaways:

  • Choosing vegan catering over meat based meals resulted in significant reductions
  • Opting for spaces powered by renewable energy saved 199kg of CO2e – the equivalent of driving from London to Barcelona!
  • Assessing each activity area enabled cumulative savings, resulting in a total footprint of 1.74 tCO2e
Get Set Hire van running on Green D+ to reduce advertising production carbon emissions

Perma Collective – The Production Team

An introduction

When a brief lands the first conversation is around our approach. Each element of the shoot is approached with green intentions in mind, building from previous experience and encouraging collaboration with the client, team members and suppliers to reimagine work processes to reduce impact.

To fully understand the impact of shoot activities and the effect of behaviour changes we need to measure and review. The AdGreen carbon calculator quantifies environmental impact by converting real or proposed activity data from our shoots into emissions data, which we can use to get a more detailed understanding of total impact, as well as that of each individual activity. This informs behaviour change and ensures efforts are focussed in areas with the biggest potential for reduction.

In May of last year we worked with McCann to produce a 2 day stills and motion shoot for Bosch at a shoot location in the East Midlands. McCann were keen to learn more about our approach from the outset, and supported this throughout the project. We recorded all production activity data and at the end of the project shared a carbon report with them that detailed the total footprint, a breakdown of activities, information on some of the learnings, reduction statistics and useful comparisons that help to make sense of the figures.

Following this project McCann have signed up to AdGreen, completed the training and have started measuring and converting their own activity data using the AdGreen calculator. At the start of this year they were able to retrospectively collect and enter their data, which gives us all a better picture of the full impact of the project.

The learnings

Location

Shoot footprint can be minimised by opting for a location powered by 100% certified green energy. Selecting a location geographically central to all those attending the shoot will also reduce travel and transport requirements. So when we briefed our location library and explained what boxes we needed to tick, we were able to find a location that suited our project both aesthetically and environmentally. Subsequently, this conversation led to our library exploring the option of adding a search filter by energy type

Casting

Casting was managed virtually by Kate and Lou. At the start of the pandemic we chatted with Kate about how casting would evolve as we were forced to work remotely. Bar the odd occasion, all of our castings have been virtual since that day. Only if the brief requires us to see our talent in the flesh do we propose going into the studio for a live casting. Virtual casting as a ‘behaviour change’ has massively reduced the movement of people and subsequently reduced impact. Not to mention the positive effect on wellness, as it creates a better work/life balance for all those involved in the process.

Styling

We are fortunate within our collective to be surrounded by inspiring, forward thinking and invested creatives all going through this journey with us. Stylist Alice Timms was the perfect partner for this project. Her brief was to manage wardrobe, props and set build. We agreed to aim for solely rented and models’ own wardrobe on this project, made possible thanks to Alice’s recently set up garment hire business ‘The Styling Bank’; a rental house servicing the photographic industry.

We needed to install two false walls to create a cameo set within the house. The flats were made from existing timber frames, old screws and the only new element and waste created was the canvas.

Travel

Previous use of the calculator has shown us that travel and transport usually account for the majority of a shoot footprint. Our team was split between London and Birmingham so we focused our search on the Midlands. We opted to shoot in a wonderful converted barn just outside Market Harborough with nearby direct links to London Euston, making it easier for crew and cast to travel using public transport. Our next step was to ensure that we reduced the number of vehicles on the road. We grouped all big props along with our production kit into one LWB sprinter with an EU6 engine. Any crew and cast that couldn’t use public transport were asked to carpool.

Catering

We keep our catering simple and build our menus around our team’s dietary requirements. Where possible, we opt for one dish to feed all crew. This offers efficiency from initial prep, through to on set waste management. We connected with the brilliant local duo Farrinheight Foods and asked if they could supply our teams with two ‘one pot’ vegan hot meals per day. The food was prepped and delivered on day one and reheated and served by us as required on our portable induction hobs (powered by the location’s green energy). The vibe on set was one of simple culinary happiness. The soul food was served in our upcycled Wagamama take away bowls.

In addition, we asked our client, agency, cast and crew to bring to set a ‘keep cup’ for hot drinks, a ‘water flask’ for hydration and ‘cutlery’. The most sustainable approach is to use things you already own, and this really cuts down the waste.

Choosing vegan catering over meat based has a huge impact on footprint reduction. On this shoot we were able to see that, compared with a beef based option, vegan catering would save 365.5kg of tCO2e. Which equates to the emissions created by flying 2500 km, or from London to Istanbul. So it’s a no brainer.

There is always opportunity to look and reflect on the service we provide and to explore areas in which we can evoke positive change. In addition to the above we also made some conscious choices around our crew and accommodation.

Hotels

All cast and crew stayed in a Premier Inn powered by 100% renewable energy and only 5 minutes from the shoot location.

Hair and Make Up

We added a new member to the team on this shoot and worked with hair and make up artist Poppy France. Poppy has been in the industry for 15 years, promoting clean, circular beauty. She used clean, organic, cruelty free and sustainable make-up on this project, which doesn’t have much of an effect on the footprint data, but it’s important to look beyond the figures and make sure we’re reducing our impact upstream and encouraging greener industry through our consumption.

Summary

The Overall Footprint of this shoot was 1.74 tCO2e.

This is equivalent to the emissions created by flying 11,918km. Or from London to New York City and back. Over half of the footprint relates to travel and transport (1.01 tCO2e). Materials, made up of styling, props, set and catering account for around one third (0.50 tCO2e), and the other elements (non-filming spaces and disposal) have relatively small portions of the total. You can see the full breakdown in the Bosch Air Carbon Report.

We looked at a few reduction statistics for this project to help inform decisions. One of them being green energy. How much did we save by choosing a location and a hotel powered by green energy and is it worth prioritising this moving forwards? Using the calculator we could see that we’d saved 199.5kg, which is the equivalent of driving a 2020 VW Golf 950 km, or from The McCann London offices to Barcelona. And as detailed above we were able to confirm during the decision making process that choosing vegan catering ahead of a meat based option resulted in a huge reduction.

Our focus is always on reduction ahead of offsetting. Although we do invest in accredited climate projects based on double the annual emissions generated by our business and projects, our aim is to get associated emissions as close to zero as possible, and we don’t consider offsetting to be a viable way of doing this. The footprint data for the shoot must be transparent so that data can be reviewed, behaviours can be changed and impact can be further reduced.

This was the first time for us that an agency has actively included ‘sustainable approaches’ within the PPM, which felt like a very progressive step. The PPM is a meeting where all HOD’s come together to discuss the shoot and is the last step in the pre-production process. Discussing sustainability in the PPM allows us to clearly identify the actions required and ensures all persons are aligned with our goals / intentions.

Alice Timms – The Stylist

From the start of this project we were given the necessary time to source props and wardrobe required for each shot. This allowed us to focus on minimising the environmental impact and waste as much as possible. This was done with props and set design by first checking the location, working with the agency on compromises in regards to what was already there, and with wardrobe by checking what the models themselves had, with virtual fittings.

We then used hire options for clothes from The Styling Bank. Anything still needed was discussed with mood-boards, minimal approved options were bought, which avoided unnecessary purchases, and we prioritised sustainable brands wherever possible. Used items were repurposed into The Styling Bank afterwards and any items that were purchased but not used were then returned to store, to ensure they went back for resale.

Perma and I worked together on logistics for larger props items to reduce journeys and couriers to and from set. We collaborated really well on this project and a lot was learnt on how to manage not only prop & wardrobe sourcing, but also factoring the logistics of deliveries, getting items to and from set and all the different elements that increase the carbon footprint of a shoot.

I think one of the important factors is allowing time in pre-production to source environmentally friendly options, and also having a client that was so great at working with us and being so flexible in regards to making it work in this way. There were quite a lot of ideas for creative compromises and alternative props suggestions based on minimising environmental impact, which were able to be explored first as a priority. We only sourced new items afterwards, which often isn’t possible on shoots, where we get little prep time or flexibility to allow for this type of sourcing to be considered.

In terms of data collection, Perma’s online forms were very easy to use and made recording the data very simple. We recorded everything at the end of the shoot, so I checked the form at the start, and then throughout I made notes to keep track of everything to be added in at the end.

I have taken the AdGreen Training, which is brilliant, but would love to have some more resources developed and made available for specific departments, as there is a lot more each department can do in their role.

McCann – The Agency

As always, it’s an absolute pleasure working with Perma. The team are cool and collected, taking everything in their stride to deliver a seamless production. Our client had some very specific requests for the shoot, including a certain type of pollinating tree, as well as a trained cat. Perma went above and beyond in their research to source both for us.

I find Perma’s approach to reducing environmental impact inspiring; the amount of consideration, and time taken to reduce waste on set was very impressive.

Perma recommended that I sign up for AdGreen’s Sustainable Production Training, which I did, and which inspired me to start measuring the footprint of our own activities.

Using the AdGreen Calculator to measure emissions has been super easy. The calculator is quick to use, and breaks everything down into simple steps.

Moving forwards, McCann are looking to continue to record data across all of our productions.

Find out more from each of the companies who worked on this production:

Agency: https://www.mccann.com/

Production Company: https://perma-collective.com/

Styling: https://thestylingbank.com/

If you want to reduce your impact, check out the carbon calculator to help you measure. You can also the AdGreen resources to help you reduce!