Sustainable Screens Scotland (SSS)

The Sustainable Screens Scotland (SSS) network connects the Scottish film and television production industry, screen sector stakeholders, and academics across disciplines to promote the screen industry’s transition towards net-zero. The network aims to create a cross-disciplinary resource of expertise and know-how which will provide an evidence-based response to the screen sector’s needs, and foster research and industry synergies and collaborations. The network’s overall aim is to help to establish Scotland as a global leader in sustainable, ‘green’ production practices and screen-industry infrastructure. 

Through a series of workshops and industry facing events, the network will address longstanding challenges to make the Scottish Screen sector more sustainable. This will be supported by an online database where the screen industry can access academic expertise around sustainability on a rapid and ad hoc basis, accelerating knowledge mobilisation to meet demands of urgent sustainable change in the industry. 

The network is supported by a Royal Society of Edinburgh network grant of £19.6K and is a collaboration with BECTU Vision and Screen Scotland.

Key contacts:

Workshop 1: Portable Renewable Power

This first workshop focussed on Portable Renewable Power for locations filming, festivals and outside events. It took place in the Advanced Research Centre (ARC), on the 17th of November, with 55 participants from EventScotland, the screen commissions in the central belt (Glasgow Film OfficeFilm Edinburgh and the Screen Commission at Screen Scotland), freelancers in the film, music and events sectors, South of Scotland EnterpriseScottish Enterprise as well as green energy, hydrogen and battery suppliers, new tech companies and generator rental businesses, alongside academic experts in Scotland from a wide range of disciplines.

Speakers were Roxy Erickson from Creative Zero, Tim Benson from Zap Concepts and Dr Graeme Hunt, University of Glasgow. There were presentations from Aggreko, Zenobe, PlusZero, TCPNorco and Instagrid.

The workshop was in partnership with BECTU Vision (the training section of the Broadcast, Entertainment, Cinema and Theatre workers Union) and DF Concerts and Events, the largest concert operator in Scotland.

The main findings of the workshop were:

Screen and events funders, commission and agencies

  • The introduction of mandatory ‘green’ budget lines or sustainability plans, incentivised by tax breaks and funding incentives, for example modelled on Austria Film Institute’s ÖFI+ grants.
  • The creation of a central resource listing low impact and carbon neutral procurement, frameworks, suppliers and supporting industries, in particular generator and camera rental, facilities as well as catering, hotel and transport.
  • A need for exchange of experiences across sectors, in particular sharing case studies of where new technologies have been effectively applied, tried and tested in order to build trust in new technologies as well as demonstrate efficiency and cost savings.

Policy and legislation

  • A need for policy and legislation to include the screen & events sectors in relation to their use of diesel generators, and for this to be nationwide rather than city specific.
  • The introduction of HSE standards for hydrogen use for shorter term deployment in the screen and events industries.
  • Standardisation of data collection to maximise power requirements and energy efficiency, and a requirement to maximise generator efficiency.

Incentives, innovation and information sharing

  • The introduction of tax breaks and incentives for investing in green / low impact capital expenditure and retrofitting of old technology for suppliers, for example a diesel / HVO generator to be converted / retrofitted to use green hydrogen.
  • Action to improve access and efficiency in the supply of generators within the screen & events sectors regardless of type, as well as to upskill hire companies in new technologies so that a wider range of portable renewable power is available to the industry.
  • There is a need for sectoral collaboration, information sharing and solidarity. Specifically, smaller new tech suppliers called for the larger generator rental companies / suppliers to hire out battery backups for hybrid systems.
  • Innovators and SME suppliers are struggling to access to R&D innovation funding such as Innovate UK funding, and other major funding streams in Scotland & UK.

Training and Culture Change within Screen & Events

  • There is a need to upskill existing roles in screen & events sectors to use new technologies and portable renewable power, in particular in relation to power management as well as monitoring and understanding energy loads on productions and at events. Here, there is scope for exchange of knowledge and experience between sectors. For example, in the music industry, generators are already monitored by trained specialist engineers which is not always the case in the screen sector.

A full slide deck from the Portable Renewable Power in Scotland workshop can be found at Portable Renewable Power in Scotland’ column at the Sustainable Production padlet. Here are also links to the Scottish Government’s cleaner air strategy, Powerful Thinking’s Guide to Energy Management, Creative Zero and Film London’s fuel report, Skoon’s mobile renewable energy marketplace, The Generator Project as well as supplier and speaker websites.

Workshop 2: A Just Green Transition in the Screen Sector

The second workshop on “A Just, Green Transition for the Screen Sector in Scotland” was held on the 22nd of May, at the Advanced Research Centre (ARC).

The workshop brought together a range of expertise and experience from academia, screen industry, public/third sector, education and training and community organisations, in order to facilitate a vital discussion about what a “just transition” means for the screen industry. With speakers from BECTU VisionSniffer and the Royal Society of Arts, and participation from academics from University of Glasgow, producers and executives from screen sector, the BBC, Creative Carbon Scotland, the Sustainable Glasgow team at Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Film Office, Film Edinburgh, the Screen Commission at Screen ScotlandSouth of Scotland Enterprise and Creative Scotland, we shared knowledge and built capacity to tackle issues of fairness, equity, and social justice as the screen sector seeks to decarbonise and becomes more sustainable and climate resilient in its practice, policies and infrastructure.

In particular, the workshop focussed on the screen industry’s impact on communities, social justice and climate resilience. We discussed actions, change in policy and practice, and shared principles that will ensure the screen sector’s response to the climate and ecological emergency is just and equitable for all and does not perpetuate systemic inequalities and negatively impact marginalised communities in society. Together, we explored where the concerns and opportunities are and what more needs to be done individually and collectively to achieve not just a green but also a just transition.

The main findings of the workshop were:

  • Scotland has a powerful narrative and rhetoric, and we could harness that more effectively to be a global driver for change.

Intersectoral collaboration and knowledge sharing for a just, green transition beyond the sector

  • A call for thinking across sectors and considering the impacts of the activities of the screen sector on local communities and ecosystems.
  • A need to learn from other industries and share best practice across the cultural and creative sectors.

Education, training and access to a just, green transition in the screen industry

  • Developing role of education in training and informing future content creators in order to depict and influence a just, green transition.
  • Harnessing the potential power of screen content and storytelling to influence and promote sustainable living and a just and fair, green transition.
  • Suggestions for a universal basic income to create more equitable entry into and access to the screen industry.

Funding and incentives for a just, green transition in the screen sector

  • A call for funders to consider funding streams and incentives that promote not only sustainable production practices but also sustainable infrastructure and facilities in the screen industry.
  • A need to consider measures, plans, and budget lines that embed resilience and preservation at all stages of the production chain. This in addition to and beyond incorporating sustainable practices during the production process of individual productions.
  • A call for allowing and budgeting for more time in preproduction to consider impacts and green measures before principal photography.
  • A mandatory requirement to lock down scripts and schedules 14 days before principal photography in order to prevent unsustainable and wasteful ad hoc production decisions. This is practice in Sweden.

The workshop was in partnership with Sniffer and Bectu Vision and the link for the resources, speaker slides and presentations are here: