#SustainableSundays – Sharing is Caring

05 September 2021

It’s #SustainableSundays, and this week we’re looking at the Set Design department, to see what best practices filmmakers are using around the world to reduce their environmental impact. 

Image credits (c) Gordon Cowie

Set Design is vital to creating a multi-dimensional world that is not only realistic, but unique and inspiring. From ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ to ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ we’ve all, at one time or another, been transfixed by the aesthetic beauty and attention to detail of a well-designed set.  

Set Design is argued to be the department which potentially produces the most amount of waste and makes the greatest contribution to a production’s overall carbon footprint. Many sets are custom-built, consuming huge amounts of materials, resources, and leg work, only to be torn down and discarded after shooting ends.  

Esmeralda Ruiz, Head of Sustainability at Fresco Film states that:  

The audio-visual industry is very consumeristic. It needs a huge quantity of resources, which are not unlimited, and it uses them for just a very short time. If it is necessary to build a set, you use a lot of wood and a few days later it is no longer of any use, and often it has to be destroyed.

Esmeralda Ruiz


How can productions keep offering the high-quality of set design that we have become accustomed to, without wasting resources or making sets single use? Luckily, recycling has the answer. Many productions have begun sourcing their materials, whether it’s wood, steel or textiles, from recycled places, or re-using pre-loved materials from other productions.  

Sony’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ donated 49 tons of their set design materials to future productions, eliminating huge amounts of material wastage from set. This means that they also managed to divert over 50% of their wastage from landfill sites, whilst ensuring that other productions continued the chain of reusing set resources.  

When it comes to Set Design, sharing is caring! The television industry has a strong history of lending their long-term sets to other productions that need a similar set-up for a short space of time, reducing material usage as well as set-up times and costs. Did you know that 'Full House' and 'Friends' shared the same sound stage in Burbank, California? With careful set dressing and staging, it’s almost impossible to spot that the apartment scenes are shot on the same set! We encourage our filmmakers at LFA to setup their productions using recyclable materials, and to share dressed sets wherever possible.  

Check back next week to see what our next step suggestion is on how we can work together to create a more sustainable film industry. Creating films that are not only inspiring, but also sustainable, is one of our core goals and values here at LFA, and we'd like to lead by example by sharing best practices environmentally. 
Help us raise awareness for this critical topic by sharing on social media or forwarding on to a friend. #SustainableSundays 

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