Cardboard: The Go To Material For TV and Film Sets?

  • Posted On:January 31, 2022

A studio in Greater Manchester ‘The Vector Project’ ran an event in January 2022 to showcase a variety of film and TV sets made entirely from cardboard, which could be a game-changer for the industry. It's 80% cheaper than a traditional wood or MDF set, it has a carbon footprint that's 90% lower and it's 100% recyclable.

The film sets on display were based on the Harry Potter train carriage, 10 Downing Street, the Bat Cave, Sherlock Holmes, Edward Scissorhands, a domed house set, and a prison cell. What makes these sets different is that they're not made out of the usual wood, MDF and plastic. They're all made from cardboard.

The aim of the eco-conscious studio is to try to encourage the industry to switch to cardboard sets and save millions of tonnes of carbon waste.

Tom Henderson of the Vectar Project said: “Our industry does amazing work in increasing awareness of the climate crisis, but often has no alternative but to add to the damage,"  He continued with "Every year we build thousands of studio sets from wood and MDF, then dump them the moment the shoot is over. It makes me and others in the industry sick to see how much we waste, but now there is another solution."

The set designs include a spiral staircase you can walk up, and working doors, including a prison door that looks like cast iron but is actually as light as a feather.

Tom Henderson teamed up with cardboard artist Chris Gilmour, who has been working with the material for over 20 years and can make virtually anything from it.

His previous works have included full-size replicas of an Aston Martin DB5 (complete with ejector seat and spoked wheels), a dentist's chair, and The Beatles guitars (complete with strings), all made completely from cardboard.

"It's such a versatile medium," Chris Gilmour said and continued with: "And the Vectar board that we use is really strong too. So, we can build lightweight sets, that can also be load-bearing, which is something we couldn't do before."

The wood used for the cardboard is sourced in Sweden and comes from trees that are harvested for their branches, rather than chopped down entirely. The company says it's a completely sustainable method that provides 100% recyclable materials.

The sets are not only cheaper and less environmentally harmful, they also help save time during production. The fact they can be moved easily by one or two people, unlike much heavier wooden sets, means that they can be repositioned much more quickly, saving time and money.

As you can imagine environmental groups were straight onto the case and are keen to see the impact the cardboard innovations can have.

Mike Berners-Lee, from Carbon Footprinting UK, said: "You know, I can imagine that cardboard film sets could be easy to make, easy to take down, easy to store away afterward, reused for other purposes, I can imagine there could be all kinds of benefits, and it's just taking a bit of creativity from someone to get it off the ground."

The cardboard sets from ‘The Vectar Project’ have already gained attention and have been used by quite a few TV commercials and a drama for ITV/BBC

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