Cooper Shapiro: Sustainable Production Practices on Small-Budget Films

Cooper Shapiro is a 2020 IDEA Grant winner who is majoring in Motion Picture Arts and Production. His project is tentatively titled “Sustainable Production Practices on Small-Budget Films”. Cooper’s faculty mentor is Prof. Lisa Tripp of the College of Motion Picture Arts.

My IDEA Grant project has been a learning experience to say the least. I began my research (with significant help from my faculty advisor) by interviewing members of local sustainability practices including a green-event coordinator and an affiliate from Sustainable Tallahassee. These conversations kept this project grounded and helped me to realize that a lot of a production’s sustainable practices operate at the local level: finding places to compost, looking for nearby catering options, etc.

Additionally, researching the many tools and products that the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA) has created to educate its members and followers has been very useful for this project. The PGA’s Green Production Guide Toolkit (labeled PEACH, PEAR, and PLUM) break down a film production by its department tasks, carbon/energy management, and lumber usage (respectively). The PEACH Best Practices Checklist has been the most helpful resource so far, delving into the responsibilities of each film department and how specific practices can be made more sustainable. The PEAR and PLUM tools give great insight to how professionals in the industry are managing their carbon footprint, but these documents are not as applicable to amateur productions that may not be staying in hotels or using airplanes to transport crew.

The scale of the PGA’s resources is very grand and a bit overwhelming on the amateur and student filmmaker level. My faculty advisor and I have brainstormed how we can make these documents more accessible to those trying to break into the film industry. The next steps to this IDEA Grant project will include compiling the most useful information from the PGA’s Toolkit and talking with Florida State Alumni who are working in the film industry to make a new resource for low-budget filmmakers.

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