Posted on 5th September 2019

Taking the plastic out of production

KEO Films have taken a deep dive into Britain’s plastic problem with their three part production 'War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita'.

The first episode sees the residents of a street in Bristol, not far from the production office, examine their own homes to dig out every item of plastic they can find.

The production team wanted to practice what they preached so took a look at their own relationship with plastic, aiming to have no single use or non recycled plastic anywhere on the production. This meant looking at everything from stationary in the production office to where they ate when filming on location.

First came the challenge of the production office. Normal biros were replaced with pens made out of recycled plastic, masking tape was replaced with a plastic free version, they even found a biodegradable bubble wrap. People were also confronted with their habits, the most popular lunch place in the office is a Chinese street food restaurant near the office which serves in takeaway boxes that contain plastic. Realising there’s no need to deprive themselves, the team started bringing in their own tupperware to take to the restaurant instead. “Once we identified the plastic we were using it was fairly easy to find a solution, it just took a bit of habit changing. When you get used to it you don’t think anything of it.” said the Production Manager, Stella Stylianos. Were there any negatives? “Plastic free masking tape is not the most efficient… but needs must!”

In fact the only pieces of single use plastic that were used in the production were on screen. albert went down to a shoot for the final episode of the series – where Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall returns to the same street to issue a call to arms on plastic use – to see how the editorial content of the programme had affected the crew.

Speaking to the shoot team it was clear that filming the programme had been eye opening. One camera operator said he would never use a wet wipe again after shooting a shocking scene with Wessex Water that highlighted how many wet wipes end up in our water systems, a problem that the crew were not aware of previously. Although ensuring single use plastics on set took a little extra planning – such as checking with local restaurants when organising takeaway catering that they could comply with this – the crew was overwhelmingly positive and up for doing as much as they could. Director Jim Turner pointed out how refreshing it was to work on a production that was reflecting the steps a lot of people are already taking in their own homes. The overall feeling on the shoot was one of positivity, both from the contributors and crew, who hope to bring forward principles of reducing waste and thoughtfulness to their next production.

Plastic with Hugh and Anita aired on BBC One 10th, 17th and 24th June 2019.