News: Equity launches Green Rider campaign

Hayley Atwell, Bill Nighy, Mark Rylance and David Harewood are among a group of 100 actors supporting a new Green Rider contract intended to improve the sustainability of the U.K. film and TV industry.

Spearheaded by U.K. entertainment union Equity, the inclusion of a Green Rider is positioned as a “tool to empower artists” and provide a framework with which to negotiate better practices in film and TV. The rider would be included in standard Equity contracts.

The “Green Rider Actors’ Statement” has been signed by Atwell, Nighy, Rylance and Harewood, along with Ben Whishaw, Gemma Arterton, Stephen Fry, Bella Ramsey, Paapa Essiedu, Nabhaan Rizwan, Juliet Stevenson, Dame Harriet Walter, Jonathan Bailey, Danusia Samal, Will Attenborough, Fehinti Balogun, Tom Burke, Rosalie Craig, Natalie Dormer, Adrian Dunbar, Jerome Flynn, Johnny Flynn, Freddie Fox, Romola Garai, George Mackay, Nikesh Patel, Maxine Peake and Miranda Richardson, among others.

Riders are a set of clauses that artists often add to their contracts, which relate to specific requirements around issues such as accommodation, nudity or travel. In recent years, they have also included inclusion and diversity on set, though they’ve also been associated with the draconian demands made by high-profile stars who request things like all-white furniture or the use of a private jet.

In contrast, Equity’s Green Rider is looking to drive a cultural shift in the entertainment industry — one that veers away from such environmentally hazardous demands.

The Green Rider (the full document can be accessed here) can be added to actors’ contracts in order to state their own sustainability commitments, and to negotiate stronger sustainability standards on set before accepting a job. The overarching aim is for the Green Rider to eventually be included in the collective agreements that Equity holds with producers.

Equity is discussing a scheme with the BBC, ITV Studios and Sky Studios to pilot the Green Rider in upcoming productions. More details will be announced on Tuesday during a panel at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Specific clauses can be tailored to the individual circumstances of a production. They include the artist avoiding “high impact choices” such as large trailers, private air travel or fossil-fuel powered road vehicles, or the producer providing low carbon transport options such as trains or electric vehicles for the artist and crew.

Other clauses include the artist considering the “carbon/environmental cost of additional food or comfort requests” that require runners to go off site, and reducing this accordingly, or the artist sharing their trailer or dressing room when appropriate to reduce energy use at base and transport emissions.

The Green Rider was created collectively by Equity for a Green New Deal – a network of union members fighting for climate justice in the performing arts and entertainment industry and beyond. The group has collaborated with changemakers, broadcasters and other bodies across the screen industry to create a document that invites collaboration and innovation between departments, led by network members Danusia Samal, Will Attenborough and Fehinti Balogun.

The statement on Tuesday is launching alongside an online drive for signatories to Equity’s #GreenRider campaign.

Mark Rylance called the Green Rider “a template to help all film and TV artists to ask for more ecological practices. Just because we can’t do everything, doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. Let’s clean up our workplace.”

Meanwhile, Bella Ramsey said: “Equity’s Green Rider is a practical route to positive change in the film and television industry in regards to sustainability. We can make all the films in the world about climate change but unless we are environmentally conscious in the process of making them, our efforts are superficial. The media has historically inspired change, so I’m excited about the introduction of this Green Rider and the conversations it will incite.”

Paapa Essiedu added: “This summer has brought into sharp focus the reality that climate disaster is not a problem of the future but one of the now. The accepted normal practices of the film industry are rife with waste and a lack of consciousness as to the damage we are causing our planet. But these practices can be challenged and changed and that is why I am so excited about the Equity Green Rider. It is a clear and practical set of guidelines that empower us within our industry to play our part in combatting this urgent reality we find ourselves in and provides a pathway for a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

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