Film crews use Brooklyn as a backdrop for everything from detergent commercials to Hollywood blockbusters — but when the director calls “cut,” our borough is left holding the bag in the form of tons of needless waste.
That’s when Eva Radke yells, “Action.”
Disturbed by the trash abandoned by Hollywood’s minions, Radke founded Film Biz Recycling, a Fort Greene–based company that picks up materials from locations and then recycles, donates, rents out, or sells whatever can be sold.
In just five months, Radke has already collected material from more than a dozen commercials and four feature films, including “Motherhood” starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, and “The Rebound” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
It all started with a toothpaste commercial.
Radke, then a prop and set manager, was wrapping up the commercial shoot, and noticed that $5,000 worth of mint plants was being junked, along with Plexiglas, paint and other materials.
“It was my job to take care of it — and that really started to get to me,” said Radke. “The answer up that point was always to call a Dumpster and have it hauled off. But I refused.”
There are other organizations doing similar work, such as Materials for the Arts, but they don’t always work quickly enough for the rushed film industry. Commercials often have one day to clean up while films have one week. Despite the time crush, Radke anticipates green behavior becoming a reflex — an industry standard.
“I’m hoping that people in the film business will start to feel really uncomfortable and embarrassed if they don’t send [their runoff] to Film Biz Recycling,” she said.
The biggest waste is common wood. Radke said that commercials spend roughly $10,000–$20,000 on lumber alone, while movies spend an average of $750,000. In five years, she says she’ll be able to save 50 tons and $5 million worth of would-be junk.