The art department is expected to produce things cheaply; set designers
and prop people often haunt thrift shops and secondhand stores for
inspiration and authenticity. They are the definitive recyclers.
At the same time, the art supplies now available pose a number of
toxicity problems, and purchase and disposal of materials will have
an environmental impact.
If you choose your materials with an environmental conscience, you
might save money. Consider papier-mache over-plastic modeling materials,
for example, when building oversized props. Use natural mediums:
wood, canvas, paper, and cardboard when you can. Find used materials
and dispose of everything conscientiously.
PAINTS, SOLVENTS AND GLUES
Modern paints are a toxic blend of chemicals, pigments binding agents,
and resins designed to provide easy application, a quick drying
time, and strength.
USE LATEX PAINT: While latex paints contain resins
that: are toxic, they are waiter-based and far less polluting than
CHEMICAL-FREE PAINTS & SOLVENTS: There are
chemical-free paints and varnishes, originally designed for highly
allergic people, and now being advertised to the environmentally
conscientious (see AFM
Enterprises). Because these are very specialized
products, they are expensive and may not fit in your budget (up
to $22 a gallon). In general, these products come in white and can
be dyed for color.
• A company named Livos
makes a line of natural paints that come in several earthy colors.
These paints take longer to dry and are not as brilliant in color
as their synthetic counterparts. bill may lie .suitable for patina
effects and period sets.
• Natural solvents are available through a company called
SOLVENTS: If you use oil paints you will need turpentine
or paint thinner. Most standard solvents are toxic and flammable.
Use them sparingly. Dispose of them in sealed containers. Don't
pour them down the sink or toilet; the sewers are not equipped to
process these substances.
• Reuse the turpentine you have: If you store your turpentine
in a jar, the paint sediments will settle to the bottom over night.
The turpentine will be clear again in the morning, and you can pour
it into a new jar and use it over again. In the old jar or can.
Id the sediments dry and \ 'on can dispose of the material benignly.
REUSE YOUR BRUSHES: Brushes arc cheap and seem
disposable now, but get into the habit of caring for them. Buy a
good brush, keep it clean, and see how long it lasts.
USE CANVAS DROP CLOTHS: They are durable and will
not tear. They will protect floors more effectively than disposable
AVOID SPRAY PAINTS: The fumes, propellants, and
chemical make-up of spray paints are all toxic. Water-based paint
in a spray gun will give similar results.
GLUES: I se water-based "white" glues
whenever possible. While these glues take longer to set, they are
Battery powered tools .ire extremely useful on a film set, as you
may be on location away from an easy power source. Rechargeable
batteries should he fully drained before recharging to extend their
Whether you shoot on location or in a studio, when the filming is
over, the set will lie dismantled and there will be a lot of material
to dispose of. The money will have already been spent, and there
will be an inclination to load up a dumpster and split. But some
of that material will be toxic, and should be disposed of carefully,
while the rest might actually be of value to someone
PAINTS: When the paint is used up, leave the lid
off and let the residues air-dry. Then the can may be thrown in
ALMOST EVERYTHING that might get thrown away will
be accepted by Material
for the Arts in New York City, including fabrics,
wood, ropes, paints, electronic equipment, craft service equipment
and so on. You will get a voucher for the estimated worth of your
donation, and it can be used as a tax write-oil. If you yourself
are nonprofit, you can find supplies there.
The Shooting Gallery in New York is a co-op film
group that accepts donations in exchange for services like editing
and rehearsal space.