When a director yells “cut!” on the set of a TV show, commercial, or feature-length film, the cameras may stop rolling but production is far from over. While editors are looking at raw footage, producers are eyeing premiere numbers, and actors are reading over new scripts, someone else is tearing down the sets and getting props off the lot. But where does this stuff end up? Too often, it’s the landfill, says Eva Radke, founder of Film Biz Recycling.
Once tasked with dumping sets herself, Radke knows the business — and the folks in it — from her years of experience trying to do the right thing without the time or resources. Now she hopes to make a difference when it comes to the egregious waste left after the 200-some films, TV shows, and countless commercials filmed each year in New York City.
Film Biz Recycling serves as a one-stop dumping ground for production companies while turning what would have been landfill waste into much-needed donations or hard-to-find props that can be rented out for reuse in other productions. For example, a collection of tents and cots from the set of a TV special was recently donated to a group of Girl Scouts — providing them with much-needed camping supplies that otherwise might have ended up camped out in a dumpster.
Since starting up in 2007, Radke has already served as a landfill diverter for eight movies, 27 commercials, and a number of other productions. Wandering through the warehouse space she shares with nonprofit Build It Green (which focuses on building materials), it was hard to believe how much treasure she’s saved from the trash bin. There were brand-new couches and antique chandeliers, retro salon hair-dryers and custom-made neon signs, rows of spotlights and stacks of 50-foot garden hoses.
After our tour of the warehouse, Radke even let us watch as she opened a few boxes, delivered fresh from a film set. Here are some highlights from our conversation and our treasure hunt: