Green Production Incentives in California: The Good, The Bad and The Bottom Line

Green Production Incentives in California: The Good, The Bad and The Bottom Line

creative_commons_3118408862_spdpProducers, by nature are problem solvers. We solve budgeting problems, scheduling problems, technical problems and communication problems. We manage personalities, locations, equipment and the weather. One problem we have yet to solve is how to get a decent bagel in Los Angeles…wait, scratch that—that’s a personal problem. But there does truly seem to be a problem when it comes to us all being on the same page when it comes to green production practices.

Some well-known companies in the biz have implemented green practices. For instance, Universal’s Paul (2011) used solar powered portable restrooms while on location in Mexico. The sets from the 2011 hit Bridesmaids (where principal photography took place in Los Angeles, California) were dismantled and recycled. Disney’s The Muppets employed an environmental steward for the $40 million project. But what about the other massive amounts of production? What are they doing? And more specifically, what is California doing to help our industry reduce our eco-footprint?

The California Film Commission’s website offers a page filled with links offering tips, information and resources to create a more sustainable set. The Art Department could purchase low-toxin paints, the caterer could be encouraged to provide reusable dishes and the production office could be asked to purchase and use green office supplies.

Unfortunately, four out of the five producers who provided input for this article pointed out that even if you could get your production to qualify for the California Film and Television Incentive Program—a feat in itself they say—there are not currently any tax credits or incentives available for greening those productions.

While the Los Angeles Film Office does not offer tax credits on their site for sustainable productions, the state of California does offer some general (i.e. not filming specific) motivation. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy of California, the purchase of a zero-emission vehicle could result in a rebate of up to $2500. The catch? There are many. The vehicle has to be new and purchased after March 15, 2010. Applicants must own or lease the vehicle for a minimum of 36 consecutive months. However, with prior approval by the California Air Resources Board, you could sell or lease the vehicle before the 36 months is up.

There currently is not a line item for greening production (At least not in my copy of MM). But we work in an industry full of leaders, pioneers and visionaries, exactly the kind of people who can find a financially feasible way to shoot in California, and more importantly—shoot green while saving green. Meanwhile, producers have taken the lead to green productions big and small. Even if you are working on an ultra low budget show, the PGA Green Production Guide is a great resource for a pre-production meeting with department heads to announce a sustainability plan.

If you’re reading this, we want to know what you think. What ideas do you have? What resources have you discovered that you would like to share with your fellow producers? What green practices do you employ? What do you find frustrating? What do you want to know more about?

Good, Bad or Ugly —message us at Facebook or send a tweet. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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KRISHNA DEVINE is an eco-awareness advocate. She enjoys working with the talented people at Big Air Studios and thinks everyone should read her book: Why He’s My Ex.