Lights, camera, climate action: How Earth Angel is trying to fix the film industry
Picture this: You’re watching television.
It gets to the part of the show where the good guy has taken a beating. The bad guy is going to get away. Suddenly, there’s a flash in the protagonist’s eye, and you know tables are going to turn as the hero stands tall once more. The bad guy stumbles and this is it, the climactic moment in which justice is about to be served — and you think to yourself, “I wonder if that prop desk they shattered was from ethically sourced timber, and if the producers have done everything possible to reduce their carbon footprint?”
Okay, you’re probably not thinking that. But Emellie O’Brien is. She’s the founder of Brooklyn-based Earth Angel, and works with Marvel Studios, Netflix and others to ensure the productions are environmentally conscious.
Movies carrying a budget of $50 million dollars produce roughly 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to a 2018 study released by Columbia University. Using strategies ranging from customized waste allocation, eco-education of crew members and carbon tracking, Earth Angel has been leading the charge in reducing the environmental footprint of production sets since its founding in 2013.
The seeds for Earth Angel were planted in O’Brien’s youth, O’Brien said. Her time spent as a Girl Scout provided the roadmap to a “leave no trace” philosophy that continued on with her throughout university, where she majored in film at NYU Tisch School of the Arts .
“It really wasn’t until college that I began to learn about these various environmental crises from joining different sustainability groups and watching documentaries. My whole push to study film in the first place was because I wanted to help make socially and environmentally conscious content, so this has all come full circle for me,” she said.
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