The Green Picture

How green is Hollywood? The film community’s environmental image has been endangered by its reliance on lauan, a rare tropical hardwood from Southeast Asia, popular for construction projects on Hollywood movie sets (See “Green Contradictions in Hollywood,” In Brief, July/August 1995).

But while lauan may be hard to replace because it’s both inexpensive and versatile, the market for alternative wood products is growing and gaining acceptance in Hollywood. Tamar Hurwitz, Southern California director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), says, “Lauan is still being used, although the amount has been reduced by the efforts of major studios. Alternatives need to be perfected and used routinely to prevent rain forests from being destroyed for the sake of entertainment.”

One viable alternative is studio board, developed by Simplex Products of Adrian, Michigan. The lauan alternative is made from 95 percent recycled materials and is strong enough to handle vigorous set construction and can be recycled or reused on other sets. Major players like 20th Century Fox, CBS and Universal are beginning to work with this new material.

Hurwitz is optimistic about lauan alternatives. “Studio board is the first real exciting alternative that carries hope for replacing lauan for good,” says Hurwitz.