A Plastic Ocean

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Craig Leeson

What motivated you to make your film?

I received a call from producer Jo Ruxton asking me if I’d noticed any plastic in the ocean while surfing, diving or filming. I hadn’t, until I started looking. It made me realise I’d become so used to plastic in my life it had become invisible to me. Jo came back from a research expedition to the north pacific gyre and reported they had found 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile. We knew we had a problem. But what was in the other four ocean gyres?


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

1) funding

2) getting people to understand there was an issue here

3) there was very little published science on the topic when we started looking at this 8 years ago

4) making a film raising awareness about the damage a product was doing that most people thought was something most people thought was a necessary part of life

5) directing the film in a way that would engage audiences not interested in the subject

6) selling a film made by a debut feature film director on a topic no one knew anything about


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

Single-use plastic is toxic to humans and to all species and should never be allowed to make its way to the environment where it can enter the food chain and cause all sorts of harm to human health. Single-use plastic products should be banned.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

1) the science behind the film
2) which plastics are bad which plastics are good
3) human health consequences of our plastic addiction
4) who is responsible
5) solutions
6) what can individuals do to make a change


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

Since the film was released in 2017 it has been screened in 60 countries on 6 continents in more than 1200 cinemas, 4 embassies, by the Smithonian Institute, John Kerry’s One Oceans conference, UK and Australian parliaments, was No.1 documentary on iTunes in the US, UK, Canada, was launched on Netflix by Leonardo diCaprio, also on Amazon, has been screened in 1000s of schools around the world, translated in to 22 languages, won more than 12 awards. So, it has achieved its aim of raising the issue and starting the discussion.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

We have set up the Plastic Oceans FOundation globally to further the discussion on the issue, to start the education process, to provide a database of the science we collected and to help corporations, governments and individuals make a change.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

Googling the name of the film will bring up thousands of references to it from articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, FT, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian, tv shows, podcasts, blogs, etc.




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