University of Georgia master’s of fine arts student Matt Hudgins just received a sustainability grant for his project “And…Action! Bringing sustainability on-set with the MFA in Film, Television, and Digital Media.”
The project was devised to “help reduce the environmental footprint of UGA student film productions, as well as enhance sustainability for the future of film in Georgia.”Why It’s Newsworthy: Georgia is one of the most popular filming locations in the United States and not all productions have an emphasis on sustainability. The Sustainable Production Alliance, found that between 2016 and 2019 major motion pictures produced an average carbon footprint of 33 metric tons per shooting day.
Making a movie is not an easy job. A movie that lasts an hour and a half can take months of hard work and planning. A film crew’s typical work day is 12 hours long, during which they’re being fed meals and snacks. Hudgins witnessed first hand the kind of waste this generates.
Hudgins worked in craft services for eight years where he provided food and beverage to hard-working crews across numerous film and TV sets.
“I can’t tell you some of the sets that don’t even have recycling available,” said Hudgins. “In Georgia, you’re filming outside with a crew of 200 people; it’s hundreds and hundreds of plastic water bottles everyday that just go straight to the landfill.”
However, throughout his work in craft services, Hudgins has also been able to work on film sets that operated with sustainability in mind.
Production companies such as Disney have hired Eco Production Assistants to analyze every aspect of filmmaking and reduce the set’s environmental impact. Some implementations have been solar powered trailers and on-site waste digesters to compost food waste into energy.
“It was really inspiring,” said Hudgins, “so I tried to push other productions that I worked on towards sustainability.”
Once Hudgins started his MFA he knew he wanted to make sustainability a factor when it comes to film at UGA.
And Action…Bringing Sustainability On-Set with the MFA in Film, Television, and Digital Media will focus on researching and implementing sustainability practices on-set of all MFA student film projects with a special emphasis on three-stream waste management.
Three stream waste management uses three trash bins that separate waste into the categories recyclables, compostables and landfill. Hudgins believes with the plans in place student film productions can reduce their landfill-bound waste by 75% by this summer.
The plan will also feature students being issued reusable water bottles to reduce on-set plastic as well as sustainability education sessions for the program.
I think it’s a great starting point.” said Georgia Tech Sustainability Project Manager Jordan Barron. “it covers a lot of what a baseline must and lets you know where you could go even more in depth from there.”
With this plan in place, Hudgins intends for UGA to qualify for a membership into the Green Film School Alliance by the end of the spring 2023 semester.
The Green Film School Alliance is a partnership between academic leaders that work to teach sustainable production to a group of schools in an effort to make green production a standard practice for all filmmakers.
Hudgins believes that in teaching sustainable practices in film, students will then go on to build a more sustainable future in the industry.
“That’s my hope,” said Hudgins, “with everyone being student filmmakers, who are then going to become decisionmakers, showing them the right way to do things.”
Kelsey Bingham is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism.
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