A UK TV and film company has developed an innovative approach to making film and TV sets and scenery using environmentally friendly materials that have a significantly lower impact than traditional wooden sets.
Sets for the TV and film industries are commonly disposed of after use, but those supplied by Stockport-based Vectar Studios are reusable, cheaper to manufacture, easier and faster to assemble and have a significantly lower environmental impact.
Vectar Board is an extremely high-quality engineered paper board, manufactured to the highest environmental standards. It provides comparable strength and functionality to wood, but is around 80% lighter, has up to 90% lower carbon impact and is 100% recyclable.
The TV and film industries are looking for ways to become more sustainable in order to meet 2030 emissions targets. Traditional boards such as MDF and plywood are hard to recycle and contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, so alternatives can really help make a difference.
The number of staff working on the project has grown from three to 12 over the past year and there are plans to open offices in the Czech Republic and Toronto, global hubs for the film industry.
An industry solution
Tom Henderson, founder of Vectar Studios, believes there is an appetite for increasing sustainability within the industry, but a shortage of solutions.
Tom said: “The sector goal is to get to zero carbon by 2030 but there’s no clear plan for how this is going to happen. They’ve got rid of all the plastic bottles they can so it’s now time to focus on other areas to reduce the industry’s impact and Vectar Board can be one of them.”
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – certified Vectar board is made using branches and offcuts from trees that supply the construction industry, along with other water-based and recyclable materials. They have reduced, or removed, the need for polystyrene, fibreglass and metal fixings.
Wooden film sets are more than five time heavier than this innovative alternative, harder to disassemble and more difficult to store due to their size. They have also become more expensive to make, mainly due to the conflict in Ukraine and rising global prices.
Phil Holdgate, ITV’s Head of Production Sustainability, has been helping in-house crews at Coronation Street experiment with Vectar Board. He said: “As soon as you mention cardboard to a construction manager, they laugh and say it’ll never work. But the more people that are using it, the more acceptance it gets. It’s cheaper, lighter and better for the planet. If you’re trying to say no, you haven’t got a leg to stand on.”
Already on TV
Programmes already using Vectar Boards include BBC3’s The Rap Game and Channel 4’s Drawers Off, for which elements as diverse as rostrums, walls and rugs used the board.
Vectar employs a number of apprentices and is working with education providers, including Berlin Film School and Manchester Film School where it plans to teach 20 students a year. They also have ambitions to run in depth, multi-day, courses in partnership with Screen Skills, a provider of industry training.
They are an accredited supplier to Albert, an environmental organisation run by BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) which provides education, tools and certification to encourage the TV and film production industry to reduce waste and its carbon footprint. Major broadcasters, including BBC, ITV and Channel 4, will only screen UK productions that are Albert approved.
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