EcoSet Sets Stage for Production Heads
The green production consultants discussed how to lower
environmental impact of commercial shoots for a
meeting of agency Heads of Production.
By Anthony Vagnoni
There's more to being green than a re-usable water bottle, it seems.
That's the takeaway from an in-depth presentation on green production given by Kris Barberg, Executive Director of EcoSet Consulting, who spoke before a meeting of ad agency Heads of Production held last week at the offices of Digitas in New York. The meeting was sponsored by SourceEcreative and hosted by Steve Torrisi, Sr. V.P., Global Head of Production for the agency.
EcoSet is an L.A.-based hybrid company that both consults with commercial producers, ad agencies and clients on ways to cut waste during the planning, shooting and wrap on TV commercials, and also works on-set during shoots to execute its recommendations. The company says its goals are to both minimize waste, diverting it from landfills whenever possible, and helping to repurpose and reuse materials that are parts of commercial shoots.
Barberg queried the agency people at the meeting to see just how many had undertaken any efforts or initiatives in the area of sustainable production, and almost none had, with a few exceptions. One agency there had already worked on a job that EcoSet had been involved with, while another executive said her agency had recently undertaken a job that was described as "sustainable light," meaning that some efforts to cut waste were undertaken but no comprehensive policy was in place.
EcoSet was founded in Los Angeles by Shannon Schaefer Bart in 2008. A TV commercial production veteran, Schaefer Bart is also Sustainable Production Manager for NBC Universal, a position she took on in 2009. Barberg pointed out that the film and TV production industries are farther along in terms of mounting sustainable production initiatives, mostly due to the more predictable production schedules they utilize. Commercials, she noted, are typically one-off shoots that happen quickly, with little advance notice, and are of short duration, often just a single shoot day.
Barberg noted that shooting green often entails lots of things, some major, some seemingly minor, that can make a difference when totaled up. Working with energy efficient plasma or LED lightning, for example, while on location requires less power generation and can result in the need for fewer or smaller generators, making the shoot quieter and less polluting.
EcoSet has handed out literally thousands of branded steel water bottles over the past three years, she notes, along with using reusable utensils and plates for catering and composting much of the organic waste left over after a shoot. "It's about preventing and diverting waste," Barberg said. "We make a plan for everything that's used on the set," including construction materials, scenic materials, props and wardrobe.
EcoSet also makes an effort to repurpose and reuse elements and items that end up being used in commercial production, Barberg said. "On most jobs there are lots of materials that could be repurposed if there was a plan in place on how to do this," she told the production heads. "Often, the art or set departments don't have the time after a shoot wraps to deal with any of this, so this usually ends up being discarded. What we try and do is redefine the waste on a set as a resource."
EcoSet works with the production house to find appropriate recipients for materials used on set, many of them non-profits located near where the shoot takes place. She said that theatres, schools, independent filmmakers and installation artists have been the recipients of materials from EcoSet-staffed shoots, taking materials that would have most likely ended up in dumpsters, everything from foam pieces to gels to wood. The company claims to recycle or divert between 85 and 95 percent of waste from shoots.
EcoSet also helps advertisers track the fair-market value of the materials that are given away after shoots, and also helps them track the weight and volume of materials that are recycled or repurposed during shoots.
The drive behind this is that many large corporations are being rated on their environmental commitments, Barberg said. She cited rankings from news organizations such as Newsweek and general efforts that fall under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility as motivations for advertisers to address things like the environmental impact of the production of their marketing materials.
EcoSet has worked with Target Corp. for the past three years, Barberg pointed out. The company made a presentation to the Association of National Advertisers Production Management Committee meeting earlier this year in Los Angeles; that committee is co-chaired by Target's John Lick, Executive Producer, Broadcast Production.
The issue of cost came up, and Barberg said that the costs of having EcoSet on a job can vary widely. Variables include the number of shoot days, the location, the crew size, the creative elements involved in the spot and the scope of eco initiatives that they're being asked to address. Barberg pointed out that EcoSet's services are scalable and can be ramped up or down, depending on a client's needs.
What's currently in place regarding sustainable production tends to be guidelines, not mandates, she pointed out, citing the AICP's Green Production guidelines. Campbells was one of the first advertisers to regularly distribute a set of production guidelines during the bidding process. She noted that at the moment, working with EcoSet does not realize a cost savings for producers or clients, mostly due to the quick turnaround and short duration of commercial jobs.
In terms of acceptance, Barberg said that so far, EcoSet has had its greatest success when dealing directly on the client level. Often, they've been introduced to client-side marketing departments by production and advertising consultants, she added, including cost consultants.
The company has been expanding its geographical base, Barberg added. They've worked on shoots in the US, South America, Europe and the Caribbean, and are busy expanding their network of eco-crew members who can work on shoots in various locales. "Our clients shoot around the world, and so we've been asked to help them on a more global level," she said.
Published 18 June, 2012