A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that the production of feature films causes serious harm to the environment. The organization states that over 3,000 metric tons have left a carbon footprint by big-budget feature films. This amount equals 7 million miles driven by a regular car. Conversely, lower-budget films have a carbon footprint of just about 400 metric tons. Although the filmmaking industry is trying its best to rectify that, Earth Angel is there to step in and help.
Earth Angel (EA) is an environmental group located in New York, California, Georgia, and Ontario, Canada, working with production studios since 2013. The company’s efforts are to reduce and reverse the harm of global warming and climate change. Its founder, Emellie O’Brien, came up with the idea of the organization after working as a “Green Steward’ with Beach Films. For those not in the know, a Green Steward or Green PA during production is an individual responsible for the onset of sustainability practices.
They tend to create strategies and work with staff to reduce the carbon footprint of a film or tv production.
Earth Angel: First Steps into the History Books
After graduating in 2010 from New York University with a BFA in Film &Television, the title of “eco supervisor”—a variation of green steward—was given to O’Brien on her first job on a professional set. While on the web series, Living the Dream in 2014, she said, “The only formal training I received in my career of doing sustainability on set was when I went to a workshop about the emergence of the environmental steward.”
The CEO of Earth Angel continues, “We realized very quickly though that term was too vague.” Hence O’Brien, at the time, believed that the people didn’t understand the duties of eco-supervisor and that not “enough authority” was given to make a difference.
O’Brien would later have a eureka moment in 2012 that was the first step in creating Earth Angel. While on the movie set in New York of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, O’Brien handed out food to parts of Coney Island. A storm devasted the area, and along with the film’s catering trucks, the future founder of Earth Angel helped serve over 300 hot meals in two hours.
Also, while on the set of Noah, O’Brien was able to recycle 450,000 pounds of steel through a scrap metal recycling company—to show that she wasn’t playing around. That is when the possibility of Earth Angel came to O’Brien. She co-founded Earth Angel Sustainable Production Services LLC in 2013 with a mission: “To bring a unified sustainable practices model to entertainment production.”
The Method to Save the Environment
The company’s title comes from a nickname placed upon O’Brien while ensuring eco-friendly production sets. Many of these duties involved O’Brien and other members of Earth Angel slapping on their signature Green Gloves. In addition, they would go dumpster diving and educate crew members on the importance of separating trash from recyclables. With the expansion of Earth Angel, the group’s focus is the sustainable practice of what they call the 4 S’s: Strategy, Staff, Stuff, and Stats.
The strategy is to customize a sustainable program for each production. Staffing involves a skilled labor eco crew. The EA uses stats of data collection to analyze and report the effectiveness of their work. Lastly, Earth Angel’s section on “Stuff’ showcases gear management, material recovery, and vendor procurement with their services.
Consequently, it is essential to note that not every production requires the same methodology. Jennifer Sandoval, an employee at Earth Angel, commented on the company’s evolving method. She states, “It’s an innovative process that we’re constantly learning.” The Director of Services continues, “Every production is very different, and you are working with different crews—different people, different people in charge. And that makes a big difference.”
Earth Angel and The Amazing Spider-Man
The early days of Hollywood saw an eco-friendly and sustainable set scene as a luxury. However, the EA’s Jennifer Sandoval noticed the shift in Hollywood’s interest in having a more environmentally friendly set. “There’s a lot more directive from studios now to try to encourage all the productions they work with to try to be more sustainable,” Sandoval claims. Sony Pictures is one of the productions that notice the vital need for Earth Angel and its efforts.
2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was Earth Angel’s most significant collaboration. Through the efforts of Earth Angel and cooperation with Sony, the film generated cost savings of over $400,000. Additionally, by implementing sustainable practices during production, a significant carbon footprint reduction to in effect. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 production allowed preserving one hundred ninety-three thousand plastic water bottles and over 49 tons of material recovered or donated. In addition, 5,961 meals went to local shelters as well.
As a result, the EA would eventually work with other major studies such as HBO, Amazon, AppleTV+, CBS, and Paramount+. However, Earth Angel would later partner with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars along their journey for more sustainable filming productions.
Mananalu and the Earth Angel
In 2021, Jason Momoa’s Mananalu began a partnership with Earth Angel. The company offers its aluminum-packaged water to Earth Angel’s movie and TV productions in hopes of protecting the planet. The actor/founder commented on the creation of their organization’s teamwork with Earth Angel. “Seeing the entertainment industry take meaningful steps toward sustainability is a passion of mine and one of the reasons I founded Mananalu,” says Momoa.
The single-use and resealable cans of water are packaged in aluminum, an infinitely recyclable material destined to impact more eco-friendly productions significantly.
Although Earth Angel’s efforts are more environmental-based, their activism doesn’t stop there.
More Than Environmentally Friendly
The organization has taken steps to become more than fighting against climate change and global warming. The people at Earth Angel have and understand the need to fight against racism within society and business practices. Their commitment to anti-racist attempts has expanded from its inception. To put that in action, Jennifer Sandoval gives an example of Earth Angel’s efforts.
The DoS affirms, “Oftentimes, what we’ll do is take a look at the storyline of a film and find out if it’s something that has some sort of social impact or social justice theme in the storyline.” She continues, “We will work with the production to find organizations in the community that align with the work they’re doing towards a cause.” Sandoval also notes that Earth Angel will try to get these productions “to give back to the communities they’re filming in.” Additionally, these methods work in conjunction with many of their coalitions.
Earth Angle works in juxtaposition with Young Entertainment Activists (YEA!). The group is an activist hub and creative production studio that lends its talents to critical social change. But, more importantly, are other groups that Earth Angel has joined.
For example, the Production Initiatives Association (PIA) focuses on a competitive NYS tax incentive. The Big Reuse association salvages usable items from demolition and remodel projects. Lastly, Earth Angel works with food donation centers like Rock CAN Roll, Inc. and the Hollywood Food Coalition.
We’re in this all together. People and even several other organizations on a global scale are doing their part to combat climate change and global warming and reduce the harm to Earth’s environment. Earth Angel is working in their way to help out and has made considerable strives to preserve our planet. Although we all have a long way to go, it’s important to help by donating your time and effort to a cause for the betterment of humanity and nature.