Posted on 4th July 2019

Using local crews to cut travel emissions

The BBC's Natural History Unit’s series cut 25 tonnes of CO2 emissions from their predicted total by reducing international flights

The BBC Natural History Unit’s series on America’s Wild West is a sustainability success story, having cut 25 tonnes of CO2 emissions from their predicted total by reducing international flights. This is the same as the average carbon emissions of one UK home over 6 years.

Ian Gray, producer of Ep 2: The High Country, which TX’d on Sunday 16 October, chose one American wildlife cameramen for almost all his US shoots. Dawson Dunning traveled from the Rockies to the Sierra Nevada, filming in California, Colorado, Wyoming and closer to his home in Montana. San Francisco based cameraman Owen Bissel also filmed in California. So, lots of travel but without the costs of extra travel days on international flights. With around 20 weeks of filming overall, in roughly 15 separate shoots, the choice of local cameramen also paid off in several other ways.

Dawson’s local knowledge and familiarity with locations meant that he could work alone on many shoots so the production team made fewer trans-Atlantic trips, saving both carbon and cash. Sourcing all the camera kit in the US also meant savings for the production on excess baggage and carnet costs. A long booking for one cameraman also meant favourable rates for both filming and kit hire. And unlike a non US crew, Dawson and Owen didn’t need work permits which saved yet more cash.

The production also saved on car hire because Dawson used his own vehicle. They saved on hotel costs when Dawson filmed from home, stayed with friends and occasionally even used his own caravan. On these shoots he also cooked for himself!

Ian Gray estimates that by using local crew and cutting their travel costs they managed to squeeze a few more weeks of additional filming out of the budget. All in all a good result for the production.