Artboard

The Environmental
Impact of
Filmmaking

Using Star Wars to Improve Sector Sustainability Practices

The EIF project supports sustainable filmmaking & television production by bringing together academics, practitioners, and experts to explore the environmental impact of props and costumes made for the Star Wars franchise.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Here's a little about us

Lightsabers. Stormtrooper helmets. Rey costumes. Since production for A New Hope began in 1976, the Star Wars franchise has produced a vast array of props and costumes for films, television shows, video games, theme park attractions, and more.

Assets are also licensed to manufacturers and retailed around the world as toys and other merchandise. Even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, you’re probably familiar with its visual identity.
Yet while many designs are immediately recognisable, their provenance is often less well known. The EIF project asks: how are the franchise’s props and costumes made? Where do the materials come from, and what happens to assets after use? And, amid efforts to improve sustainability, how do we assess the environmental impacts of Star Wars’ props and costumes?

To answer these questions, the EIF team is focusing on different moments in the franchise’s history to investigate how technology, technique, and other factors have transformed the sector. Our case studies trace prop and costume life cycles from the extraction of raw materials, through the design and build stage, to disposal, recycling, reuse, or archiving.

Our main goal is to help filmmakers adopt more sustainable in film production practices via resources that speak to the past, present, and future of UK screen media. We’re also documenting practitioners’ experiences of design and fabrication, and filmmakers’ views on sustainability.

Through these activities, the EIF film production company project will ensure that we learn from the past, and record how the industry is adapting to a changing world. You’ll find links to all of our publications, educational materials, and events at EIF Resources.

OUR

People

Based at The Open University in the UK, the EIF project is led by Dr Rebecca Harrison, a Lecturer in Film & Media production with expertise in histories of cinema and technology. She’s joined by Dr Siti Syuhaida Mohamed Yunus, an experienced Environmental Scientist who specialises in environmental analysis and metrics.

The EIF project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and works in collaboration with partner organisations BAFTA albert and the National Science and Media Museum.

Get Involved

Want to contribute to the EIF project? Find out how you can support more sustainable screen media production through practitioner interviews, a research network, and public survey.

01

Image by gromit15 from Pixabay

Artoo Detoo

One of galaxy’s most recognisable droids, an aluminium Artoo first appeared onscreen in 1977. He has since turned up in fibreglass and CGI, and is now the subject of 3D modelling. But what are the environmental impacts of different Artoo units? This case study investigates physical and digital builds to find out.

02

Queen Amidala's illuminated throne room gown from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by mharrsch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Throne Room Dress

Queen Amidala’s iconic red dress in The Phantom Menace (1999) represented high fashion in Star Wars. In this study, we trace the environmental impacts of materials used to create the garment, and suggest how practitioners might source sustainable alternatives fit for royalty today.

03

light saber

Lightsabers

The team that created the original lightsabers for A New Hope back in 1976 relied on scrap items that would otherwise have been discarded. Today, meanwhile, there are thousands of replica ‘laser swords’ available to buy in shops. We review the lifecycles of two lightsabers to think about the value of reused materials, and how props proliferate beyond the screen.

04

baby yoda

The Child, Grogu

The star of Star Wars’ recent turn toward live-action television, the so-called Baby Yoda captured the hearts of The Mandalorian fans. In our final case study, we explore the materials and fabrication techniques used to make the puppet Grogu, and some of his animatronic cousins, like the Porgs.

01

Image by gromit15 from Pixabay

Artoo Detoo

One of galaxy’s most recognisable droids, an aluminium Artoo first appeared onscreen in 1977. He has since turned up in fibreglass and CGI, and is now the subject of 3D modelling. But what are the environmental impacts of different Artoo units? This case study investigates physical and digital builds to find out.

02

Queen Amidala's illuminated throne room gown from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by mharrsch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Throne Room Dress

Queen Amidala’s iconic red dress in The Phantom Menace (1999) represented high fashion in Star Wars. In this study, we trace the environmental impacts of materials used to create the garment, and suggest how practitioners might source sustainable alternatives fit for royalty today.

03

light saber

Lightsabers

The team that created the original lightsabers for A New Hope back in 1976 relied on scrap items that would otherwise have been discarded. Today, meanwhile, there are thousands of replica ‘laser swords’ available to buy in shops. We review the lifecycles of two lightsabers to think about the value of reused materials, and how props proliferate beyond the screen.

04

baby yoda

The Child, Grogu

The star of Star Wars’ recent turn toward live-action television, the so-called Baby Yoda captured the hearts of The Mandalorian fans. In our final case study, we explore the materials and fabrication techniques used to make the puppet Grogu, and some of his animatronic cousins, like the Porgs.

Get in touch

If you’d like to get in touch with the EIF project team, please use the Contact Form to send us your name, contact details, and a short summary of your inquiry.

Alternatively, you can write to the project lead here. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.