UCLA Anderson School of Management
Research PapersTeaching SynopsisMotion Picture Industry Sustainability



This page contains some comments about the study on "Sustainability in the Motion Picture Industry".

Recent press coverage of this work, including a November 14, 2006, article in the Los Angeles Times, have misinterpreted some of the key results. Included below is a letter transmitted to the Times on November 20, mainly clarifying the point that the film and TV industry itself is not a major polluter in the Los Angeles area. The letter, as well as the full report and the summary, emphasize that total environmental impacts were estimated, wherever they occur in the US, associated with the total economic activity initiated by the industry and other economic sectors providing services to the industry. This is a key aspect of the methodology used in the report that has been overlooked in the Times article and other media coverage.

Letter emailed to the Los Angeles Times on November 20, 2006

"Clearing the Air"

The Times article "Another Hollywood production: smog" (November 14, 2006) substantially misinterprets the findings of the UCLA study referred to. According to the article, the study found that the film and TV industry emits 140,000 tons a year of "ozone and diesel particulate pollutant emissions from trucks, generators, special effects," among other sources, all within the LA region. Unfortunately, the Times failed to confer with the study’s authors. Our analysis takes a "life-cycle" perspective, referring to the total US-wide emissions caused by economic activities associated with the film industry. For instance, film companies use electricity generated by power plants whose emissions occur far outside of Los Angeles. These firms also use many other products and services, such as building materials, transportation, etc., each of which consume additional resources. All emissions associated with these supporting activities are aggregated to estimate the life-cycle environmental impact of the film industry. Due to the industry’s size in Southern California, the total economic activity associated with it accounts for substantial emissions. However, on a relative scale, our report clearly shows that the film industry produces fewer emissions per dollar of output than the five other industries we compared it to. The lesson? Any industry with a large local presence has a role to play in managing regional environmental impacts, those strictly connected with the industry as well as those within the economic infrastructure surrounding it. The UCLA study in fact highlights several leading environmental practices adopted by film and television enterprises, setting an example for others. Of course, more can always be done to mitigate environmental impacts, as is true anywhere. But the specific findings of our report do not support the picture of the film industry presented by the Times.

Dr. Charles J. Corbett
Associate Professor of Operations Management and Environmental Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management

Dr. Richard P. Turco
Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, UCLA
Founding Director and Faculty of the UCLA Institute of the Environment, UCLA


HomeUCLA Anderson School of ManagementDOTM Area