By Julie Sander (Verity London)
It’s great when things align. I’m Head of Production for Verity London – a strategy and content agency for responsible business. Our work focusses on supporting purposeful organisations with their content and campaigns – whilst partnering with others to develop, define and communicate their own unique, responsible business agenda.
I’m also the Chairperson of EVCOM. So it was great to learn that EVCOM was hosting a half day workshop on sustainability in productions, together with Syntiro Associates. Because of course, at Verity, we have to walk the walk. Whilst we’re helping our clients develop and communicate their own sustainability agenda, we do our own work to do business better. Including an annual People, Purpose & Planet report, which maps out our purposeful commitments for the year ahead – and becoming a B Corp – which we were thrilled to have achieved in August 2022.
It’s a never-ending process though. As a B Corp, we will be reassessed in three years’ time in order to keep our coveted and hard-won certification. And there are so many areas where we still want to improve. Including how we carry out our productions and filming and ensuring we do whatever we can to minimise our environmental and community impact during our work.
Often these are small things, but they can add up to an overarching approach which has a significant positive impact. A while ago, I noticed how crews would often grab a bottle of water, leave it behind when we moved to a new location and would then need another bottle. Now, we recommend on call sheets that crew bring their own re-fillable water bottles to shoots. And I’ve got a ‘to do’ action for 2023 to create Verity London branded, environmentally-friendly water bottles that we can bring with to shoots and give to our crews to use.
We’re also taking action to print less, in a move to becoming even more paper free. The age old habit of printing filming schedules, risk assessments and call sheets needs to be shaken off. They are already shared by email in advance. So we’re trying to not bring extra paper copies – however tempting it is, especially for someone who finds it genuinely helpful to have everything in front of them on paper rather than on screen. Even release forms can be navigated this way, with a bit of additional pre-planning and liaising with contributors.
We’re also building a sustainable travel plan into shoots, to encourage public transport or electric car use, car sharing where possible – and to employ the talents of local crew where we are able to reduce long journeys.
Like many, we are now utilising cloud – based systems for our post-production, a process which was supercharged during the pandemic and enforced remote working. Of course, this isn’t without its environmental impact, as all cloud-based solutions require energy-hungry servers. But they certainly help overall, reducing transportation and purchase of drives, and unnecessary journeys for teams collaborating on a project in post (although there are still times when you can’t beat a side by side edit session to get something nailed!). We’ve found that longer term project archive storage on cloud – based systems is still a little hit and miss, with many available services not robust or efficient enough for us yet. But we’re confident that will be our next step soon while we continue cloud-based editing.
There are many other ideas and systems that can be put in place to make our productions more sustainable. The EVCOM/Syntiro workshop examined how we can also help keep our clients on track – particularly useful for me, coming from an agency where our core purpose is just that. We learned about ‘Bossing’ – finding the Best Overall Sustainable Solution, within the three areas of People, Profit and Planet. Considering how a production or event challenge might fit into all three of those areas and using this to guide clients to work with us on more sustainable solutions. In the process they can demonstrate they are engaged in this goal and see their business benefit. Which has to be a win win all round.