Sustainability Training For All DGA Members with BAFTA/ALBERT

November 30, 2023 A DGA Sustainable Future Committee virtual event

On November 30, the DGA Sustainable Future Committee (SFC) hosted a virtual Sustainability Training event for DGA members in collaboration with BAFTA/ALBERT a global leader in environmental sustainability for Film and TV. The event is now available as an online Sustainability Training exclusively for DGA members.

The sustainability training, led by Steve Smith, a UK director working with BAFTA/ALBERT, details the critically important ways to decarbonize productions, and emphasizes the leadership role that DGA members can take in achieving sustainability goals.

Participants from each DGA category took the course on-camera as surrogates for their category peers including: Directors Ed Ornelas (Promised Land), Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Glenn Weiss (The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors); UPMs Michael Beugg (The Color Purple), Heidi McGowen (Black-ish), Carla Raij (Maestro); 1st ADs Shawn Pipkin-West (Mufasa: The Lion King), Sunday Stevens (Love & Death); and 2nd AD Deborah Chung (Once Upon A Time in Hollywood).

BAFTA/ALBERT’s interactive presentation highlights the primary areas in production planning where changes can have a major impact, prioritizing clean energy, transportation, and powering sets—followed by re-use, plastic waste, and food management. The BAFTA/ALBERT sustainability course provides concrete examples of how making changes like utilizing EVs, electric generators and battery stacks, right-sizing diesel generators, promoting reduced meat catering, sharing transportation and using solar/electric trailers can yield significant reductions in carbon emissions. Biodiversity is an area that has risen to be a priority in terms of considering the environment of the locations and communities where we film. Smith pointed out that biodiversity is declining faster now than at any point in human history, and there is great potential for the impact of our industry to be positive and promote environmental protection.

Smith begins by asking the panelists, “How is climate affecting your work?” Chung shared her experience dealing with climate change during a production, stating, “I was on a movie about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles. It snowed on set, bringing in weather we typically do not experience in Los Angeles, so production was unprepared to handle that.” McGowen said in her experience, drought and the wildfires have caused shoot cancellations because the impacts were so heavy, and evacuation was necessary. Smith suggested that while we are used to doing risk assessments for safety, we may have to start thinking about climate risk assessments when we go on location.

During the session, Smith covers a myriad of topics including ways to be more sustainable on and off set, learning more in-depth about climate change leading to climate action, and strategies for creating a power plan where you start by asking: Can we connect to grid power? Is Renewable Diesel available in our location? Can we use batteries, or hybrid or electric generators?

The conversations are lively when participants are asked to share their own experiences with sustainability leadership. Scheinert recalled mentioning in a safety meeting that he hoped the crew would keep sustainability in mind wherever possible. “This had a real impact. I had crew come up to me later and tell me it made a big difference just to have the Director say that out loud.”

Raij shared, “On West Side Story we made a favored nations policy where no one would have anything larger than a two banger. We’re doing it again now on my new film. If you are on the show when the negotiations with cast are happening, one of the things physical production can do is put up our hand and say we can really impact our footprint by limiting the number and size of trailers we have. I have found sometimes when you do it early on you can win.”

Beugg discussed the importance of having sustainability partners at the studios. “It seems like the studios are doing more and more to support sustainability. Last production with Apple, they were particularly aggressive about emissions, making sure we had solar powered trailers and batteries, and biofuel and so forth… I’m very hopeful that our studio partners will be supporting us more and more in the years to come.”

Smith concludes the seminar with a discussion of a new movement around Climate Storytelling, noting that with five billion viewers worldwide, films and series can influence public perception and behavior in positive ways. As an example, he shows a scene from HBO’s Succession where James Cromwell’s character Ewan Roy reveals he’s changed his Will to give all his money to Greenpeace. According to Greenpeace, that scene led to a surge of people calling their offices to do the same in real life.

Co-Chair Todd Holland emphasized the importance of all DGA members joining in the critical effort to reduce the negative environmental impacts of production. “This challenge demands ambition and DGA members are ambitious by nature… Every effort shifts the meter toward a sustainable future for our industries, our families, and our world.”

Co-Chair Lydia Dean Pilcher described the newly launched DGA Sustainability Pro-Tips as a step-by-step “leadership initiative to empower our DGA teams with tools to support a climate action plan for your productions.” Co-Chair Mari Jo Winkler encouraged members to familiarize themselves with the modules in the Pro-Tips for their respective DGA category where they will find concise, practical, action items for sustainable production.

The BAFTA/ALBERT online training and the Sustainability Pro Tips are available to all DGA members on the DGA website. Smith concludes by reminding everyone: “The biggest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.

Video from this event available on the Sustainable Future Pro-Tips page linked above.


Michael BeuggExecutive Producer/Producer/UPM Michael Beugg
Michael Beugg is executive producer, producer, and UPM of nearly 50 feature films, including the DGA Award-winning La La Land, as well as DGA Award-nominated films Up In the Air and Little Miss Sunshine, and films such as Dolemite is My Name, Thank you for Smoking, Babylon, Wonder, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. His current projects include The Color Purple, which is out in theaters at the end of December, and Wolfs, which is in production. His guild service includes three terms on the DGA National Negotiating Committee, Co-chairing for the UPM Committee West, and serving as an AD/UPM Council alternate. Before joining the film industry, Michael worked in energy and environmental policy at the White House Budget Office (OMB) in civil service under two administrations. Michael has an MBA and Public Management degree from Stanford University, and a BA from Yale University. He has been a member of the Directors Guild since 1998.


Deborah Chung2nd AD Deborah Chung
Deborah Chung's recent feature credits include Dan Minahan's upcoming period drama On Swift Horses, BJ McDonnell’s horror comedy Studio 666 featuring the Foo Fighters, and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood for which Deborah received her first DGA Award Nomination.  Her episodic credits include Lessons In Chemistry recently released on Apple+, international project From Scratch, family drama Little Fires Everywhere, and the supernatural procedural Lucifer.  Deborah joined the DGA in 2009 and serves on the Sustainable Future and 2nd AD Committees.

Heidi McGowenUPM Heidi McGowen
Heidi McGowen has worked as an Assistant Director on various films and television series, including the features Dead Presidents and Big Momma's House and the TV series Nash Bridges, The Corner, and Girlfriends. Heidi worked as a Unit Production Manager on ABC's Body of Proof and HBO's Silicon Valley. In addition, she worked as a UPM/Producer on Insecure. Heidi was the UPM/Producer for all eight seasons of the ABC comedy Black-ish. Most recently, Heidi completed work on the reshoots for the feature films Creed III and The Underdoggs. Heidi is a member of the Directors Guild of America Television Diversity Task Force, The Television Academy's Director Peer Group, and was a part of the first class of Shondaland/Netflix Producers Inclusion Initiative. She joined the Directors Guild of America in 1994.
Ed OrnelasDirector Ed Ornelas
Edward Ornelas has directed over 70 hours of episodic television and is currently serving as Executive Producer/Director on Harlan Coben's Shelter for Amazon. He previously served as Co-EP/Director on Promised Land for ABC and recently directed The Horror of Dolores Roach for Amazon. Ornelas began his career editing episodic television before making his directorial debut on Grey's Anatomy. He worked within Shondaland for a decade, directing multiple episodes across various series, including the season six premiere of Grey's Anatomy and the 100th episode of Private Practice. Additional credits include Locke & Key, Fear The Walking Dead, The Mentalist, FBI, Jane The Virgin, Bull, Under The Dome, Madam Secretary, NCIS: New Orleans, The Resident, Zoo, American Gothic, and The Blacklist. Ornelas received an A.B. in English from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in film production from The University of Texas, Austin. He joined the Directors Guild of America in 2009 and currently serves as an Alternate on the Western Directors Council, as the Co-Chair of the Television Diversity Task Force, and as a member on the PAC Leadership Council.
Shawn Pipkin-West,1st AD Shawn Pipkin-West
A graduate of the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, Shawn Pipkin West's Assistant Director credits include features such as Bill Condon's Dreamgirls, Peter Segal's The Longest Yard and Gina Prince-Bythewood's Beyond the Lights; and episodes of Raising Dion, Grey's Anatomy, Shots Fired, Community, Friday Night Lights and Sorry for Your Loss. She was on the AD team for two DGA Award-winning productions: Thomas Schlamme's 2020 special, A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote and Mick Jackson's 2010 movie for television, Temple Grandin. Pipkin-West's latest project is Disney's Mufasa: The Lion King with Oscar winning director Barry Jenkins. Pipkin-West serves as an Associate member of the DGA National Board, as a member of the DGA Diversity Taskforce, is on the Board of Trustees for the Directors Guild-Producer Training Program, and has been on the Western AD/UPM Council as a member and/or alternate from 2013 – 2023. This is her second term as a Co-Chair of the WSC. Shawn joined the DGA in 2004.
Carla RaijUPM Carla Raij
Carla Raij is a UPM and Executive Producer born in Minneapolis to Argentinian immigrant parents, the youngest of three daughters. She began her film career in 1994 in New York as bilingual office assistant on the film I Like It Like That, shooting in the Bronx. From this experience she built a long and successful career as a sought after East Coast based DGA Location Manager, on multiple productions such as the Academy Award winning film The Departed, Kate & Leopold and The Day After Tomorrow, among others. After the birth of her first son, she returned to work as a Director's Guild Unit Production Manager. After her first production management job working for Martin Scorsese on Shine a Light, her UPM career took off as she continued working on films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Tower Heist, Fast and the Furious 8 and the Academy Award nominated films Bridge of Spies and The Post from the mind of Steven Spielberg. She continued to work with Scorsese on The Irishman and the reimagined story of The Joker by Todd Phillips. However, it is her work on West Side Story, that she is the most proud of as Latinx Woman in the film industry. Her resume also includes Spielberg's The Fabelmans and most recently Bradley Cooper's Maestro and Maggie Gyllenhaal's upcoming feature The Bride. She is married to fellow filmmaker Stuart Dryburgh, and together they have two sons, Joaquin and Mateo, and live happily in Brooklyn. Carla joined the DGA in 2000.
Daniel ScheinertDirector Daniel Scheinert
Daniel Scheinert is an Academy Award-winning Director, part of the director duo DANIELS – who have been writing and directing together for over a decade, initially with a slew of viral music videos, commercials, and short films, then with feature films and TV directing. They've developed a reputation for combining absurdity with heartfelt personal stories. Oftentimes they incorporate a unique brand of visual effects, and visceral practical effects into their genre blending projects.  They have directed music videos for Manchester Orchestra, Foster the People, and won a VMA for their video for Turn Down For What, which Scheinert bullied Kwan into being the lead actor in. Kwan is a really good dancer. They wrote and directed the feature film Swiss Army Man starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, which went on to win the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, received multiple nominations, and gained a large cult following. While they were writing & developing their multiple Award-Winning recent movie Everything Everywhere All at Once, a kung fu sci-fi dramedy starring Michelle Yeoh, Scheinert went and directed a small redneck dramedy called The Death of Dick Long, also released by A24. They both live in Los Angeles. One of them has a son. The other has a goofy dog. But to be honest Daniel does most of the work. Daniel Scheinert joined the DGA in 2010.
Sunday Stevens1st AD Sunday Stevens
Sunday Stevens is a 1st Assistant Director who works on top Hollywood TV series and films today. Born in Los Angeles to an entertainment family – her father was Leslie Stevens the creator/writer/director of the influential series Outer Limits, and her stepfather was Peter Nydrle, an award winning commercial and music video director. She began as a PA on music videos such as Jane's Addiction Ritual de lo Habitual. Then venturing into features on movies like Oliver Stone's Nixon and Bob Zemeckis' Contact. She worked her way up the ranks to become an Assistant Director and a member of the Director's Guild of America as well as a Producer on various premium cable dramas. She has worked on movies such as Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes, Disney's The Game Plan, Chris Columbus' RENT, and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. But as the entertainment industry has shifted into streaming services and high concept TV shows, Sunday sought to work on challenging shows that were ahead of their time. Since then, she has worked as a 1st Assistant Director/Producer for several Emmy-Award-winning TV series, including Showtime's Homeland and Dexter, and HBO's True Blood and most recently HBO's Love and Death. Sunday joined the DGA in 1999.
Glenn WeissDirector Glenn Weiss
Glenn Weiss is a Television Director that has received 17 DGA Award nominations. He won the DGA Award in 2007, 2010-2014 and 2016 and 2022 for the 61st, 64th, 65th, 66th, 67th, 68th, 70th and 75th Annual Tony Awards, and in 2017 for The 89th Annual Academy Awards. He was also nominated in the Musical Variety category in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008 for the 55th, 56th, 59th, 60th and 62nd Annual Tony Awards and in 2019 for The 91st Annual Academy Awards and in 2021 for The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Additionally, Mr. Weiss was nominated in 2015 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series, together with Rob Ashford, for Peter Pan Live! Weiss has also served on the National Board and the Eastern Directors Council as a first alternate and alternate respectively from 2015-2017 and recently served on the Guild’s Return to Work Committee. Weiss joined the DGA in 1994.
Steve SmithALBERT Training Facilitator Steve Smith
Steve Smith is a BAFTA award multi-camera Director who's helped create some of the UK's most popular entertainment television programs. He was the series director on The Graham Norton Show for nearly 20 years. He is the former Chair of Directors UK and served on the board of Elstree Film Studios for 4 years, where he chaired the studios Net Zero committee. He has been an albert ambassador and trainer for nearly a decade and currently project manages the Screen New Deal Transformation Plan for Wales and Studio Sustainability Standard for BAFTA albert. Steve believes passionately that culture is a powerful force for galvanizing climate action and challenging high-carbon lifestyles. To that end, in 2019 he co-founded Picture Zero with a dedication to making the film and TV sector a zero-carbon, zero-waste industry, integrating sustainability into storytelling. He executive produced The People vs Climate Change and is currently Picture Zero’s lead sustainability consultant.

About the Committee:

Created in January 2022, the Sustainable Future Committee is comprised of members across the Guild categories and is chaired by Directors Todd Holland and Lydia Dean Pilcher and UPM Mari Jo Winkler. The Committee is focused on reducing carbon emissions and waste in film and television production to mitigate the adverse impacts on the environment and the areas where our members work and live. The Sustainable Future Committee has developed recommendations on how we can do our part to help move the industry in a more ecologically conscious.


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