‘Green’ Hol­ly­wood dishes the dirt: Film­ing pol­lutes L.A., new study says

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen­nifer Harper

Hol­ly­wood could have a dirty lit­tle se­cret: It’s a great big pol­luter, ac­cord­ing to a study re­leased on Nov. 14 by the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Los An­ge­les.

Au­di­ences over­look “the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of film­mak­ing, which in­volve en­ergy con­sump­tion, waste gen­er­a­tion, air pol­lu­tion, green­house gas emis­sions and phys­i­cal dis­rup­tions on lo­ca­tions,” say study au­thors Richard P. Turco and Charles J. Cor­bett, pro­fes­sors at UCLA’s In­sti­tute of the En­vi­ron­ment.

But the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica (MPAA) re­jects the idea, say­ing that sound envi- ron­men­tal pro­grams — from re­cy­cling build­ing ma­te­ri­als to ban­ning harm­ful sol­vents — have been in place for a decade.

“The UCLA study pur­ports to dis­cuss film and television in­dus­try prac­tices but was pre­pared with­out con­sul­ta­tion with MPAA or the Al­liance of Mo­tion Pic­ture and Television Pro­duc­ers, the ma­jor trade in­dus­tries for the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try,” said MPAA spokes­woman KoriBernards,whoal­so­ques­tioned the method­ol­ogy of the study.

The re­searchers cal­cu­lated that the film in­dus­try an­nu­ally re­leases 140,000 met­ric tons of in­dus­trial pol­lu­tants into the air around Los An­ge­les, more than the aero­space, ap­parel, semi­con­duc­tor and ho­tel in­dus­tries. Be- hind-the-scenes cul­prits in­clude elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tors, idling diesel trucks, and even the­atri­cal spe­cial ef­fects and py­rotech­nics.

The study also said film­mak­ers gen­er­ated 8 mil­lion met­ric tons of green­house gases lo­cally, only eclipsed by the aero­space in­dus­try at about 8.5 mil­lion tons. The sooty arm of show­biz also reaches across Cal­i­for­nia, con­tribut­ing 8 mil­lion more tons of the gases statewide.

The re­port — which gauged en­vi­ron­men­tal prac­tices among 43 film and TV rep­re­sen­ta­tives in a two-year pe­riod — was funded by the Cal­i­for­nia In­te­grated Waste Man­age­ment Board. De­spite the crit­i­cal find­ings, there are some green-minded sup­pli­ers to be found.

Snow Busi­ness, which of­fers 168 va­ri­eties of cel­lu­lose-based ar­ti­fi­cial snow for films sets, is strin­gent about us­ing “ecofriendly and biodegrad­able ma­te­ri­als” in sen­si­tive fresh­wa­ter or habi­tat ar­eas. Los An­ge­les-based Looney Bins Inc. de­con­structs and re­cy­cles movie sets, sal­vaging wood and build­ing ma­te­ri­als, and even do­nat­ing ma­te­ri­als to char­i­ties.

But the of­ten-scat­tered na­ture of Hol­ly­wood it­self pre­vents it from be­ing “green.” Much of the work is con­trolled by short-lived pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies rather than grand­scale cor­po­ra­tions, which build en­vi­ron­men­tal prac­tices into com­pany pol­icy.

The re­searchers did ap­plaud Warner Bros. for re­cy­cling sets used on all three “Ma­trix” movies, ul­ti­mately sal­vaging 37 truck­loads of build­ing sup­plies for low-in­come Mex­i­can fam­i­lies. New Line Cin­ema won ac­co­lades for turn­ing a movie set home into a lo­cal chil­dren’s li­brary.

“Our over­all im­pres­sion is that th­ese prac­tices are the ex­cep­tion and not the rule, and that more could be done within the in­dus­try to fos­ter en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ap­proaches,” the re­searchers said.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion, a Cal­i­for­nia-based non­profit group that ad­vises the film in­dus­try about en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices and script con­tent, had no com­ment on the study, said spokes­woman Patie Maloney on Nov. 14.

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