Posted on 6th December 2019

Have you considered a Green Rider?

Invite your talent to join the sustainability revolution

Remember the Academy Awards in 2018 and the closing words of Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech; “I have two words to leave you with here tonight. Inclusion Rider.” At the time this was a relatively unheard of concept, however in the months that followed, many high profile actors and directors such as Brie Larson, Michael B Jordan, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon committed to the inclusion rider; a contractual obligation that a project must meet a certain standard of diversity. It was only when movements such as ‘Time’s up’, #OsarsSoWhite and #MeToo came to a head that the film industry was forced to look at the systematic inequality that was (and arguably still is) so entrenched within it. Warner Bros became the first major studio to adopt the inclusion rider, company-wide on and off screen. Warner Bros committing to the inclusion rider demonstrated the power that pressure from individuals has on huge institutions.

'Inclusion Rider'

Frances McDormand's appeal to the industry at the 2018 Academy Awards

As with diversity, the film industry can still lag behind on issues of sustainability even though it has the influence and money to be a positive force for change. The use of a private jet seems like a relatively simple request in comparison to demands for diamond encrusted headphones and having your wardrobe air freighted into a country and yet these demands are consistently met. High profile actors not only have the power to make extravagant personal demands but also have considerable influence that can shape the whole production of a film. Whether it’s Mike Myer’s accent change costing $5 million of reanimation in Shrek or Ben Affleck halting the entire production of Gone Girl for 4 days because he didn’t want to wear a hat, the level of power that certain stars have is astronomical.

Imagine if rather than requesting a private jet, a major studio was contractually obliged to run on renewable energy, or where someone would usually demand a designer wardrobe they instead insisted that all costumes were second hand or ethically produced?

If actors were to start including a “sustainability rider” in their contracts, where in place/as well as their usual demands they included conditions that the production companies implemented certain green strategies, it would mean that productions would be contractually obliged to be more green. As is evidenced by Warner Bros implementing the inclusion rider, when demand from high profile individuals is there the larger studios and production companies will take notice.

There has been a shift in more recent years with some blockbusters taking measures to reduce their environmental impact. The Day After Tomorrow, for example, offset the carbon emissions of the film and The Matrix recycled 97.5% of its set. More often than not actions are only taken when a significant component of the film, such as a director, star, actor or producer demands action. Roland Emmerich, the director of The Day After Tomorrow paid for the offsetting out of his own pocket. Leonardo DiCaprio of course is an example of using his global profile to draw attention to climate change and being an advocate for environmental issues. His 2016 film Before the Flood is another example of a film that offset its carbon emissions.

What if...?

The talent demanded meat free catering days on set?

Although there is a direct correlation between budget and carbon emissions, the idea of actors making contractual changes on a smaller scale could also have a huge effect. Take catering, as an area where talent will often have autonomy over what they eat, small changes could make a big difference. If talent opted for a meat free day or locally sourced produce to be used rather than bowls of M&Ms with the brown ones removed or individually ordering in food from luxury restaurants the implications on the industry’s impact could be huge.

 

We have created an example “sustainability rider”, with ideas of steps and requests that actors/directors could make to improve the overall sustainability of projects they are working on.