Posted on 10th October 2023

Education Partnership Spotlight: Learning About Sustainability While Riding a Bike at London Metropolitan University

‘I guess like everyone else, when I was five or six, I used to watch VHS recordings of The Jungle Book and stuff like that,’ student Theo Tapley of London Metropolitan University explains. ‘I liked films but I’d never really thought of myself being able to be in the film industry. Then, in Sixth Form, I chose Film Studies and that’s when I really decided that’s what I want to do and enjoy doing.’ Now, studying BA Film and TV Production, Theo has taken the opportunity to build on those initial interests and expand his skillset as a filmmaker.

‘It’s really creative and easy to consume at the same time,’ he says of cinema as a storytelling medium. ‘Sometimes I’m just walking down the street and thinking that would be a really nice shot, or you overhear something and you think that would be quite interesting in a film scenario. I guess it’s always been quite interesting, the colours, onscreen acting, it’s always been an interesting thing to do.’

As one of albert’s Education Partners, London Metropolitan University is teaching their students about the importance of sustainability in the moving image industries, and how they can make a difference in their current productions and future roles. That was where we really learnt how to impact our university work,’ Theo explains about the albert module, ‘and how your carbon footprint is still applied when you’re in the film industry – I hadn’t thought of that beforehand.’

‘Ever since then, it’s been in the back of my mind; how can I use albert’s principles to lower my carbon footprint when making films?’ And, in response to these ideas, particularly around the fact that transport has such as massive footprint in the moving image industries, Theo created the Filet Mignon, a short doc exploring his mission to learn to ride a bike and the parallel sustainability principles. ‘When I was doing the course, it was an idea that I had because I can’t ride a bike – well, I didn’t know how – and that was quite funny to me. I always like doing comedy angles with my films, so I thought it would be funny to implement that.’

‘But also, when we looked at the carbon footprint of big productions on the course, the transport emissions were always the highest emitting section. And I thought there’s a link there.’ Empowered by this new knowledge and understanding of the impact of carbon emissions, Theo was able to influence his lifestyle and working practices to reduce the impact of his filmmaking.

The limited opportunities working as a student filmmaker meant that on the practical side, the production’s methods were already mostly sustainable, but this meant they could focus their attention on   the climate content within the film. ‘Because it was a small production,’ he outlines, ‘our focus was how we can use what’s on screen to show the impact of transport, and all the other things that affect our carbon footprint. We had the presenters say lots of stats out loud and obviously we had the bike on screen.’

‘I thought the visual medium was the best way to show that there is a big problem with climate change because it’s the easiest to consume for so many audiences. With films, it’s really what you see. If someone’s watching the film, they might not be sure about how it’s made, really, unless they dig into it afterwards.’ But what is shown on screen and told through the story is easily accessible to them and leaves a lasting impact.