Published on: 13 August 2020 in Industry

“We can’t keep filming while the world burns”: introducing CUT IT.

Reading time: 5 minutes and 1 seconds

While the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped our industry and caused disruption across the world, it’s easy to lose track of urgent existing issues, such as the Climate Crisis. 

But the Climate Crisis continues, and our industry can play a key role in tackling it. Together with fellow professionals from across the industry, Directors UK member Andy De Emmony has set about creating CUT IT., a grassroots initiative geared towards putting environmentally responsible practice at the heart of film and TV production.

Below, Andy explains the thinking behind CUT IT., how the initiative works and how you can become a part of it. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all into a moment of reflection and mutual consideration, not least to consider the world we live in. 

Like many industries, the film and TV business is waking up to the Climate Crisis. We can no longer close our eyes to what is happening to our planet. Unlike Nero, we can’t keep filming while the world burns. 

In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that we had 12 years to limit catastrophe from climate change. Realising we now only have 10 years to drastically reduce our Co2 emissions made me want to propel our industry into swifter action.  

The facts are stark and hard for any of us to swallow. Each hour of drama we shoot creates approximately 58 metric tonnes of carbon waste. This waste is mostly from the fossil fuels we use in transport and to generate power.  

Location choices and spread of locations have a huge impact on the mileage of all departments. Genuine local crew recruitment is another important factor, as is smaller scale lighting and our overall power consumption. Physical waste and recycling are thankfully already beginning to be successfully addressed, but there is so much more to do…  

Our industry is largely unregulated. Change is far too slow. We cannot wait; we must instigate it ourselves. It is time to be bold and pro-active. It’s not enough to give crews a water bottle and recycle our scripts, we must change our approach and begin to value our contribution to the future of the planet. If we are to respond in proportion to the crisis, those higher up the chain of command need to lead the way, and rise, with urgency, to the challenge. Hopefully in time there will be more legislation put in place to force these measures. But in the meantime we need to take action, and if we do this collectively, our industry will be much healthier for it. 

CUT IT. is a grassroots initiative, working from the ground up, giving a voice to the concerns that many crew have about our destructive industry norms.  

As directors, we must face up to our unique responsibilities, because the creative decisions we make impacts significantly on our emissions.  

We need to factor environmental concern into our productions. We needn’t view working to reduce our carbon emissions as compromise, but as decisions that will enable our industry to survive. As a director, I recognise this will be difficult, but my work impacts on the natural world, and I need to try to see the bigger picture. Even our editorial choices like positive ‘green’ characters and eco storyline choices will also help spread the message. 

Our vibrant and creative industry is used to solving problems. We often work with a host of restrictions: regional shooting, inside or outside the M25, complex working hours, the list goes on. Despite this we juggle time and money and get the best results we can. We often discover moments of inspiration that were born out of necessity.  

Great initiatives like BAFTA albert have paved the way, but have only been able to reduce CO2 by 20% per production, and only on those productions which voluntarily engage in their certification scheme. We now need to embrace larger scale changes to drastically reduce our carbon footprint.  

In this COVID-19 pandemic, our freelance industry has been rocked by a new sense of vulnerability. But there is no hierarchy of disasters and the climate crisis cannot be forgotten. If we fail to deal with our emissions now, the permanent effects on our planet and the future of our industry are unimaginable. 

CUT IT.’s mission is to effect a dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions and material waste within the UK’s film and television industry. We aim to create a new code of working practices across the industry, through specific campaigns, including the introduction of a climate HoD and director’s green rider. We will hold a sequence of consultations with the industry, culminating in a climate summit next year. CUT IT. is not an external organisation or a funded body. It is people like us, gathering together to create change. 

Please take a look at our website, www.cutit.org.uk or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @cutitorg  Find out more at our 45 min intro Zooms — every Monday at 8pm. You’re welcome to listen, no obligations whatsoever. Book your intro on www.cutit.org.uk/bookings  

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