Case Study: Grimes on the Beach

A 'Low Carbon Innovation Fund' Case Study: Grimes on the Beach

Suffolk-based film production company Grimes on the Beach Film Ltd was keen to secure Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) investment to produce the very first feature film in the UK to use a low carbon approach to film making.

Grimes on the Beach Film Ltd – set up by film producers Debbie Gray, MD of Recentworks, and Anne Beresford and Margaret Williams of MJW Productions – sought an investment of £150k for the production of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a feature film that captures a live performance of the popular Benjamin Britten opera Peter Grimes.

Determined to break the mould in the film production industry, the producers first approached LCIF in October 2012 in order to adopt new low carbon ways of working during the preproduction, production and post-production stages of the filmmaking process.

LCIF was impressed by the team’s talents and the innovative ideas the producers had to address many of the resource efficiency and waste issues faced by the industry.

Footprinting a Film
Premiering at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse in September this year, the film has not only been a success artistically, but has also broken boundaries in the field of low carbon having become the first film in the UK to use BAFTA’s ‘Albert’ carbon footprinting tool to track its production.

Debbie Gray, MD of Recentworks, lists some of the many low carbon techniques employed during the making of the film: “We were able to dramatically cut carbon through methods such as using a small production office with no air conditioning, switching off lights and equipment when not in use, using energy saving bulbs, recycling and reusing products, and printing efficiently and only when absolutely necessary.

“Carbon was also saved by addressing travel, including encouraging cycling, car sharing and public transport, and also home working, teleconferencing and holding meetings in central locations when possible. We also used local crew, cast and suppliers to cut down travel and accommodation needs, and where accommodation was needed, we used smaller, local self-catering houses.”

Cutting waste; cutting costs
LCIF’s funding not only helped reduce wastage and improve efficiency, but Debbie says the techniques adopted also cut costs: “The sustainability measures taken showed a cost saving of approximately £2,425, which is a great benefit that we’re keen to convey to other productions considering investment from LCIF.”

LCIF was brought to the producers’ attention through Creative England, a national agency that invests in and supports creative ideas, talent and businesses in film, TV, games and digital media.

“When Creative England told us about the low carbon funding available, I thought it would be a very interesting investment because the film industry do not approach filming in a low carbon way and we were excited as a team to look at how we could produce film using low carbon methods,” Debbie explains.

Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach has been a game-changer within the film industry and LCIF now hopes it will become a useful model to replicate across many other creative companies’ projects.

Richard Harvey, Chair of the LCIF Investment Committee, said: “LCIF is proud to have sponsored the UK’s first low carbon feature film, which is also LCIF’s first investment in the creative industries. Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach Ltd illustrates perfectly how taking many small steps towards lowering carbon emissions can have a huge overall impact and save money.”

LCIF’s support of the filming of this much loved opera has allowed the film to be shown theatrically and on television, and sold on DVD and by download, bringing this special performance in a unique setting to a much wider audience for years to come.