Governor Jerry Brown’s call today for statewide water restrictions is not expected to have a huge impact on the film and TV industry; all the major studios have already launched green initiatives and have been conserving water for years. CGI and greenscreen technology also makes parting the Red Sea a lot easier and water efficient than in the past.
Even so, the industry seems ready to pitch in and conserve as much of the precious wet stuff as possible as California’s crippling drought continues and the rainy season — such as it is — ends. Whether that will apply to “wet downs” – the practice of watering streets at night to make them glimmer – remains to be seen.
In the San Fernando Valley, home to three of the major studios, water conservation already is the norm – and in Burbank, it’s the law. “We’ve been under water restrictions in the city of Burbank for the last six months,” a Warner Bros official told Deadline. “We’ve been very vigilant on this issue and have been very aggressively recycling and reclaiming water in lawn areas and on our backlot sets.”
A city official backed that up. “We’ve seen a significant drop in water usage over here in Burbank,” said Joe Flores, conservation manager for Burbank Water & Power. He said Disney and Warner Bros “are using recycled water for their landscaping” and have refitted all of their plumbing and toilet facilities to meet the city’s low-flow water code.
The California Film Commission hasn’t done an impact study, but an official there said the new restrictions probably won’t impact filming in the state because “there’s not an extraordinary amount of water usage in most productions.” And if the state’s lakes continue to dry up, filmmakers always can film their water scenes at Paramount’s famous Blue Sky Tank or at Universal’s Falls Lake — both of which have blue sky backing to make a little water go a long way.
“We have always been paying attention to water conservation,” a Universal spokesperson told Deadline, “and with the new restrictions, we’ll be taking a look at everything to do with water. We already use reclaimed water for our landscaping and irrigation systems, and we’re looking to expand the use of recycled water throughout the property. We also have low-flow water fixtures, and as part of our ‘Green is Universal’ sustainability initiative, we are educating our employees on water conservation.”