As part of 21st Century Fox’s commitment to minimizing its environmental impacts, the company recently focused its efforts on the production of FX’s Legion, the eight-episode drama from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley set in the world of the X-Men. Over the course of the nearly six-month shoot, the crew implemented a series of ambitious measures to make the production as environmentally sustainable as possible, not only following existing best practice but also experimenting with new green technologies such as portable electric generators that could advance sustainability efforts across the entire film and television industry. These initiatives, coupled with the Vancouver area’s support for green vendors and infrastructure, resulted in energy and cost savings across the board.
Legion is the latest in a long tradition of green production at 21CF. The company has worked with production crews across its film and television projects to implement environmental best practices, and previous series such as 24: Live Another Day and The X-Files event series each broke new ground for the industry on waste and recycling. For Legion, Fox once again hired Zena Harris of Green Spark Group, who led similar efforts on The X-Files, to serve as sustainable production coordinator. Harris collaborated with each department, from props to wardrobe to transportation, to set goals around reducing waste, recycling and reusing set materials, and carefully monitoring energy consumption. By both building on the success of previous series and identifying new opportunities for innovation, the crew managed to divert 55% of the waste from landfill, avoid 252 metric tons of CO2 emissions, and collectively save nearly $48,000 USD.
See below for an in-depth look at Legion’s sustainability program, from the earliest stages of preproduction to the days after shooting wrapped.
Before filming began, Harris met with each department head individually to identify the unique sustainability challenges their teams faced and develop strategies to mitigate those challenges. Together, they set goals and reviewed best practices, such as turning off set vehicles rather than let them idle, buying wardrobe from secondhand stores, and distributing refillable water bottles to replace single-use plastic bottles. These policies drew largely from the Producers Guild of America’s Green Production Guide, which Fox developed in collaboration with its peer Hollywood studios. Producer Brian Leslie Parker shared these goals with the crew in an all-hands memo on one of the first days of production.
Harris continued to engage the crew as shooting progressed by including green tips on daily call sheets, sharing stats in weekly emails, and posting green tip flyers in the production office.
Responsibly sourcing wood products such as lumber for set construction and paper for the production office is a critical sustainability issue in the entertainment industry, and Legion is no exception. The crew took the following measures to address this matter:
The team at Legion paid close attention to responsible waste management, working across departments to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible. Once initial strategies were in place, the team continued to monitor waste management tactics as the production went on, including replacing a waste hauling vendor for improperly sending recyclables to landfill.
An overview of additional waste reduction strategies is as follows:
As with The X-Files event series, Legion benefited significantly from the green infrastructure in place in Vancouver. Hydro-electric dams are responsible for 86% of British Columbia's electricity, with the remaining 14% coming from natural gas, biomass power plants, and other sources. By plugging into these clean power sources and taking the following steps, the production avoided an estimated 252 metric tons of carbon emissions:
Legion broke new ground by partnering with the vendor Portable Electric to become the first TV series ever to test the company’s new mobile power stations designed uniquely for the entertainment industry. The units are battery-powered, eliminating the pollution, noise and carbon emissions that accompany traditional diesel generators. The Portable Electric units can integrate with existing generators and production equipment, powering lights, monitors, video equipment, catering and more. Legion piloted two of these units for several days on set and provided feedback for Portable Electric to continue to refine the product.
Beyond identifying ways the production could minimize its environmental footprint, the crew also seized multiple opportunities to give back to the Vancouver communities where filming took place. They collected redeemable bottles and cans separately from other recycling and then donated the money to the Canadian Mental Health Association. In addition, the crew participated in the annual Reel Thanksgiving Challenge, promoted across the entire Vancouver film and television industry, in which productions compete to see how much money they can raise for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Legion raised nearly $2,000 in monetary and food donations.
Fox is proud to support the Green Production Guide, a project of the Producer's Guild of America promoting best practices in sustainable film and television production.