Plastic pollution is on the rise, exacerbated by the piles of discarded face masks and takeout containers generated during the pandemic. Bottles, cigarette butts and plastic bags blowing in the wind and bobbing in the waves, choking beaches and sea life and strangling waterways have become a common sight.
A new short film treats these intruders like a strange new species—a “Blue Planet” for artificial ocean denizens. “Life Below Water” is a project from YouTube, Google, Tribeca Enterprises, the United Nations and Goodby Silverstein & Partners, created to further UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: ocean conservation. And like any good nature documentary, it needs a strong voice to narrate: Morgan Freeman.
Directed by Tribeca filmmaker Brian Schulz, the film’s script leans into the premise, describing the way pollution dances and plays, hunts and spreads. “The creatures in this fascinating species do not have brains, teeth or even simple nervous systems,” Freeman dictates. “But miraculously, they can travel for hundreds of miles and live to be over a thousand years old.”
Beautiful undersea camera work captures bags and bottles in their unnatural habitats, drifting by coral reefs and floating beside sea turtles, who often mistake bags for jellyfish and starve with the indigestible flotsam in their stomachs.
The campaign unfolds over four weeks on YouTube and includes two six-second teasers and four 15-second calls to action, in addition to the short film.