Elaine Underwood
Aug 5, 2020

Actor Morgan Freeman narrates Google-funded film about plastic waste in oceans

The short documentary-style video, funded by Google, supports one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Plastic waste floating, spiraling and gently drifting toward the ocean floor is lovingly filmed as if it is a treasured species of underwater life in a nature documentary aimed at putting a stop to water pollution.

The short film, created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P) and funded by Google, is an homage to one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It made its online debut on YouTube and is being promoted digitally with a series of teaser spots.

Life Below Water: The Arrival of a New Species features the golden-toned narration of actor Morgan Freeman.

Describing this flourishing new species, Freeman says: “The creatures in this fascinating species do not have brains, teeth or even simple nervous systems, but miraculously they can travel for hundreds of miles and live to be over a thousand years old.”

The GS&P short film is a Google initiative, presented in conjunction with the UN and Tribeca Enterprises. It was to be featured during the UN General Assembly and Advertising Week 2020, both virtual this September, and at the postponed Tribeca Film Festival.

For now, it will have to find its audience on YouTube. The 2:19 film will be supported by teaser spots, one of a billowing, red plastic bag, or “tiny dancer,” another featuring an alarming school of cigarette butts, unveiled over the next four weeks.

The film, a medley of translucent sapphire and piercing rays of light, was shot in Belize over four days by cinematographer Chris Bryan, who worked on the BBC Earth series Blue Planet II. It was directed by Tribeca-affiliated filmmaker, Brian Schulz.

“As the ocean is an unpredictable actor, Chris donated a few shots of other oceans to fill in a few spaces we couldn’t capture in Belize,” said Kate Baynham, associate creative director at GS&P. “We also worked with colorist Greg Reese at (visual effects company) a52 to create the seamless picture.”

Vibrant life below water is just one of the UN’s sustainability goals. Others include affordable, clean energy; gender equality; and abolishing hunger.

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