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Helicopter Film Services chooses to balance its carbon emissions

Posted on Nov 13, 2019

Europe’s leading aerial filming company, Helicopter Filming Services (HFS) announces it will offset its carbon emissions with the help of award-winning partner, C Level.


HFS helicopter filming for Men in Black: International on the Ischia coastline (Italy) to capture actor Chris Hemsworth in a speedboat.

The HFS is a favourite for blockbuster films – its most recent projects include: John Wick: Chapter 3, Aladdin, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

CEO & aerial director of photography, Jeremy Braben BSC, explains the decision to make an effort in decreasing the HFS carbon footprint :

“For years, I’ve been conscious that the work we do in aerial filming is no friend to the environment. So, while film production is benefiting from being part of the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy, we decided it was time to do our part and to take action on carbon. But we wanted to do more, and that is why we have chosen C Level – we hope others will follow suit.”

Aaron Matthews, head of industry sustainability at Bafta commented:

“The members of Bafta’s Albert Consortium are delighted to be associated with any creative community that puts sustainability at the top of the agenda, and encourages new, more creative ways of working.”

Why this is no waste of time

Daren Howarth, founder of Brighton-based C Level, whose team coined the phrases ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘carbon balanced’, explains, “For years I’ve been hearing from my friends who work in production how much waste is involved, from food through to the hard-earned footage that never gets used. So I was delighted when we received the call from HFS, that made it clear to me: this decision to balance its carbon emissions was being made for all the right reasons.”

C Level’s aviation specialist was able to calculate the annual emissions of HFS’s crew, including trips made in aircraft it does not own. It then provided options to balance this carbon.

Community scouts in Domanga, Tanzania Community scouts in Domanga, Tanzania

The HFS team chose to support the CommuniTree project in Nicaragua, whose goal is to create a native forest for the long term, with subsistence farmers planting 5m trees, sequestering 700,000 tonnes of CO2, and providing 3500 jobs. It will also support the Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania’s Yaeda Valley to strengthen indigenous land rights and help the Hadza prevent deforestation.

Yaeda Valley community guards on patrol Yaeda Valley community guards on patrol

Both programmes are some of the world’s most holistic carbon projects, certified under the Plan Vivio or Living Plan Standard. C Level is a Certified B Corporation company and Plan Vivo is the world’s original standard for these kind of projects, and puts people at the heart of the project design.

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Fuel for thought

Concerns are growing about the carbon footprint of streaming films and other content, and while aviation has undergone major pressure to address carbon emissions, it is estimated (see nature.com) that the carbon footprint of the world’s IT sector (including powering servers through to charging phones) is equivalent to emissions from the aviation industry. Streaming video over the internet at home is also estimated to be the equivalent to having two or three old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs on, according to computer scientists at the University of Bristol. However, on a positive note, last week, The Guardian reported how the ‘Greta Thunberg effect’ has fuelled a big rise in carbon offsetting.

See clevel.co.uk for more information.

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