The ACTRA Toronto Green Committee: Helping to Build a Sustainable Production Industry

To join the Green Committee click the image above or email  greencommittee@actratoronto.com

Climate change is a big issue facing all of us on this planet. Working in film and television, one can’t help but notice how much waste our industry creates, and most of us feel conflicted about it. Coffee cups and water bottles pile high out of studio garbage cans. Transport trucks are left running to keep the heat on. Once precious materials are torn apart and discarded to decay in landfills the moment an A.D. calls “moving on.”

As performers, we don’t want to be part of the problem; however, we don’t feel we have the tools or power to act differently within the system of the industry.

Though most production companies have done their best to create in-house eco-friendly initiatives, until recently, there hasn’t been a centralized resource or governing body to serve as a steward for the environment or the people who want to protect it in Ontario’s film industry.

Enter Ontario Green Screen, camera left, followed by ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee, camera right.

Ontario Green Screen (OGS)

From the Ontario government’s agency, Ontario Creates, Ontario Green Screen and its partners make up an exciting collective of 20 organizations, including unions and guilds, producers, studios, suppliers and government, of which ACTRA Toronto is proud to be part!

The aim of this budding organization (pun intended) is to implement a coherent “green plan” created to educate and empower individuals and initiatives to establish sustainable film and television production in Ontario. OGS is a proud signatory to the Creative Industries Pact.

“Green Screen partnership values equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion as a key part of environmental stewardship, sustainability, and the media production sector” – Ontario Creates

Ontario Green Screen Industry Partners include:

What are Ontario Green Screen’s initiatives and objectives?

The mission of Ontario Green Screen is to provide tools to empower the motion picture industry in Ontario to incorporate and scale-up environmentally sustainable best practices that lead to the well-being of our environment. OGS aims to help productions operate with improved “RE-source” efficiency: re-duce, re-use, re-pair, re-cycle, re-furbish, re-manufacture, re-cover, ideally all in a closed-loop system. They aim to reduce waste, pollution, and, most importantly, carbon emissions.

You can explore OGS’s goals and tactics in depth in Ontario Green Screen’s Strategic Plan.

ACTRA Toronto’s new Green Committee

ACTRA Toronto’s council took action and initiated our own Green Committee to work with our membership in conjunction with OGS’s objectives.

Think of it this way – OGS is the film industry’s collective for green initiatives. ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee is a separate, specialized branch for performer-based green initiatives. Let’s show them what we can do!

The Green Committee is the newest committee at ACTRA Toronto. Launched in 2022, the committee seeks to connect with and engage members by providing resources on green initiatives and encouraging performers to focus on changes that will have a positive environmental impact within their lives as well as the film and television industry.

Chaired by Avaah Blackwell, the Green Committee meets monthly to discuss ways ACTRA Toronto members can make decisions individually and collectively to create lasting positive change for the environment. We share many of Ontario Green Screen’s values, tailored to our membership and union mission.

Our first official meeting was held Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Taisa Dekker (the Green Committee’s staff liaison) organized a special guest speaker, Caitlin Perry from Circular Innovation Council, which is Ontario Green Screen’s Program Manager. Caitlin spoke with members about the various OGS initiatives and how ACTRA Toronto members can get involved.

As performers, we realize we don’t have direct control over the larger decisions made in the industry in terms of sustainability; however, we do have influence. We would like to use that influence to help create solutions for the following sustainability concerns:

  • reducing fuel emissions and reliance on fossil fuels and diesel generators
  • reduction of garbage output on set
  • more recycling on set and reusables in circulation
  • increase sustainable food choices on set

Working with our committee members and experts in the field, we will create educational materials and provide online events for the membership, featuring information on how performers can make a positive impact, both on set and at home. We held an in-person event, “Clean the Ravine,” which is set to repeat at least semiannually.

We want to collaborate with other ACTRA Toronto committees that focus on member-created productions to encourage sustainable practices on those sets, too.

“As performers, we are one creature in the ecosystem of film. We can and should do our part to create sustainable practices and strive to become more responsible stewards of the environment.” – Avaah Blackwell

How Can I Help?

Become an OGS Ambassador

There are a few simple steps to becoming an official Ontario Green Screen Ambassador. For more information, please see the Ontario Green Screen Strategic Plan and check out the OGS Ambassador program.

LEARN – You can take the free OGS Climate and Sustainable Production training or the Carbon Calculator training module. OGS Ambassadors are required to attend at least two community meetings annually.

TAKE ACTION – As performers, we have the privilege of influence. As human beings, we have the responsibility to make the best choices possible. Let’s use that for the greater good! How about sourcing plant-based, local food for your next Co-op or ACTRA Toronto Low Budget Guideline production or asking a friend to borrow a shirt for an audition rather than buying a new one? Or eating lunch with reusable cutlery or cycling to work when the weather allows. Making individual changes matter a lot. ACTRA Toronto and Ontario Green Screen are eager to celebrate your accomplishments as OGS ambassadors.

Joy Tanner’s cutlery set

SHARE your green stories with Ontario Green Screen and ACTRA Toronto by email or with a photo or video on social media at #OntarioGreenScreen and #ACTRAGreenCommittee. When you share your clean, green story, it inspires others to act.

To become an OGS Ambassador, fill out this form. For further information, contact OGSInfo@ontariocreates.ca

Or learn more about and support green initiatives in your own way.

Join ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee

Get involved with ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee. An inclusive and diverse panel chaired by Avaah Blackwell with ACTRA Manager Taisa Dekker, ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee will be working closely with OGS to achieve our green initiatives. For more information on joining ACTRA Toronto’s Green Committee, email the committee at greencommittee@actratoronto.com

“The human brain now holds the key to our future. We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected. That is our home.” – David Suzuki, Canadian Environmentalist.

Avaah Blackwell is an international actor and stunt performer. She is Chair of the ACTRA Toronto Green Committee and an active member of several other committees. Recent credits include Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Discovery, Supergirl, Locke & Key and Coroner.