/News 01.05.24

Q&A with Cassey Stone, Customer Service & Sustainability Coordinator at Disney Studios Australia

At Disney Studios Australia, sustainability isn’t just an afterthought, it’s built into how the whole studio runs, from the way waste is handled to the energy on offer. Integral to this green transformation is Customer Service & Sustainability Coordinator Cassey Stone, who joins us this Earth Month to discuss her path to working in the screen industry, her accomplishments at Disney Studios, and the changes she can see taking place in the industry over the next ten years.

What is your role at Disney Studios Australia and what’s it like working there?

In my position I play an integral role in reducing the Studios’ impact on the environment – I work collaboratively with productions and the wider studio community to support and improve their sustainability practices and lower their environmental impact.

We are fortunate to work in a uniquely stunning location, close to Sydney’s beaches, amongst historic buildings, world-class sound stages and beautifully landscaped green spaces.

I enjoy collaborating with the incredibly talented creatives at the studio on a daily basis.

What interested you about this role?

My interest in sustainability was sparked by the significant amount of waste generated in the film industry. Motivated by this, I pursued and completed a Diploma in Sustainable Practice, which played a crucial role in the creation of Australia’s first film studio Sustainability position.

How did you get started in the screen industry?

After several years working at a small cinema on the South Coast, I wanted to move to Australia’s hub of screen activity, Sydney. I was thrilled to join what was then Fox Studios Australia. I was eager to delve into how film content is created, and I’ve learned so much.

It was a combination of seizing opportunities and in pursuing my interest for working in the screen industry and almost 6 years later, here I am.

What is unique about your team at Disney Studios Australia?

Our team oversees the 32-acre studio facility in Moore Park, Sydney as well as our film set-lighting rental division, Disney Lighting located in Sydney and Australia’s Gold Coast.

What sets us apart is our decades of experience in the industry and our passion. We have employees who started their careers working as part of the production crew on tent pole features in Australia and abroad, others have been with the business for 10 or 20 plus years. We have a deep understanding of a production’s needs and each member brings a unique skill set to the table.

What’s the biggest highlight of your job?

It’s always a highlight when I see a sustainability initiative from development to implementation. Among the initiatives I’ve implemented are our site-wide waste segregation bins, an onsite worm farm, over 100 bicycle parking spaces, ongoing upgrades to LED and motion sensor lighting, adoption of LED set lighting, installation of EV charging stations, utilisation of rainwater tanks, provision of reusable branded Keep Cups and drink bottles, and green power.

What’s something you’re proud of accomplishing in the time you’ve spent at Disney Studios Australia?

While we still have a journey ahead of us, I consider our strides in waste management initiatives over the past few years a major achievement. Our diversion of waste from landfill is proudly around 85%, we currently provide twelve recycling streams at our studio and we are always exploring potential new recycling initiatives to implement.

What was your favourite production you’ve worked with at Disney Studios?

Oh, that’s a tricky one! Each film brings its own unique excitement. But if I had to choose, being at the Studio during the production of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and then transitioning into Thor: Love and Thunder was incredibly inspiring. As a fan of Marvel films, it was a highlight for me seeing the crew bring these features to life! I was pleased by their dedication to sustainability. I enjoyed working closely with their sustainability stewards to develop our sustainable production offering, which is now regularly used on site.

During that time, even our onsite worm farm was benefiting from food scraps courtesy of Chris Hemsworth’s caterer – definitely no complaints there!

How do you see the industry changing in the future? What do clients need to be considering?

I anticipate (and hope) the industry will consider more sustainable practices and digital innovations when creating screen content.

A proactive step would be to integrate a sustainability steward into the production process as soon as pre-production. We’re available to assist by offering tailored production sustainability guides, including a waste specific guide, to suit your specific needs.

We are now also able to offer ALBERT to productions through our partnership with Sustainable Screens Australia. Films will be equipped with guides, a supplier directory and, most importantly, a carbon calculator.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in sustainability?

Pick a niche that aligns with your interests and skills. Sustainability is becoming increasingly central to all businesses. Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride of learning experiences, as this field is constantly growing with new challenges and innovations. I am at the beginning of my career in sustainability and looking forward to see how I develop and progress in this industry and field.

What keeps you busy when not at work?

Growing up on the coast, I’ve always cherished time spent outdoors – whether it’s hiking, swimming, playing games, or learning to surf. My partner and I often escape Sydney for weekends, heading north or south to explore the beautiful coastline of New South Wales and visit our friends and family. In 2020, we took on the challenge of purchasing and converting a commercial van into a campervan, which turned out to be quite an adventure in itself. Now, we have a home on wheels, allowing us to travel wherever the road takes us. Last year, we embarked on a three-month journey across Western Australia in our campervan. It’s true what they say – home is wherever you are, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have created a mobile home that enables us to embark on these exciting adventures.