Mountain: Life at the Extreme was 3-part series filmed in the Rockies, the Andes and the Himalayas so had the potential for considerable travel and relatively high carbon emissions – which the production team were keen to measure carefully.
The team did their best to actively reduce their environmental impact in a several ways. In the Rockies, the filming was mostly done by a local crew with their own equipment, which cut their carbon emissions from trans-Atlantic flights. This also saved the production the cost of travel, excess baggage and local accommodation. Clever shoot scheduling in the Andes meant that 3 sequences were filmed in one trip, using the same cameraman for two shoots and staggering crews. In Nepal and India, the production used porters, sherpas and camels to transport camera kit. And aerials were filmed with drones rather than helicopters which kept the carbon emissions low.
In the UK, crews travelled to and from airports in shared vehicles. Hire vehicles were chosen from either class A or B, following BBC policy to stick to low carbon emitting cars. Whenever possible, meetings within the UK were reached by public transport or held by telepresence and Lync.
Location food and drink were acquired with sustainability in mind, too. The crew in India were fed from their homestay’s allotment. While camping for a glacier bird and climbing shoot, the crew opted to drink local stream water, boiled and purified, to avoid having to carry plastic water bottles with them. In Peru, they bought drinking water in gigantic plastic bladders to refill their individual bottles, which must have saved in excess of 100 small plastic bottles across the entire shoot.
Filming in Peru, the crew trialled solar panels and a battery storage system. Unfortunately, there were technical problems but that kit has returned to the BBC in Bristol for other productions to use in future.
In the Bristol office, the production team took a number of practical green actions: they used 100% recycled Ecolabel paper; the PC’s email signature encouraged others not to print; recycling of office waste was encouraged; and a passive infra-red monitor was used to switch off lights automatically in an unused room.
In Post-Production, Films@59, the post-production facility company, provided their full sustainability policy which encouraged all staff to engage with greener working practices.
Production Manager, Lynne Youle, said that going through the albert sustainable certification process has helped her think differently about the environmental impacts of wildlife film-making and it’s given her food for thought on her next production. She also recognises the importance of the BBC’s Natural History Unit being involved in BAFTA’s sustainable TV production scheme to raise awareness of these issues across the industry.