Host a screening of A Plastic Ocean

Screening a film about an issue is a great way to engage lots of people in the community. Everyone loves films and going along to a screening can be a really nice - and gentle - way for them to get involved.

11 Jan 2019

About the film (from IMDb)

A PLASTIC OCEAN (2016, 100 mins) begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect.

Why host a screening of A Plastic Ocean?

Whether you’re working with local cafes to get them to ditch plastic straws and cutlery, or working with your council, a film screening can help you win. Getting more people along to take action is always useful. And if you’re targeting local decision makers or your local café it’s a great opportunity to invite them along. 

You might also get some new people joining your campaign. Turning up to a film screening is quite a gentle first step to getting involved with something. But if they really enjoy the event and are inspired by what your group is doing, they might just stick around and do more.

5 top tips to make your screening a success:

  1. Map your aims and objectives. It helps to think through what you’re trying to achieve with your film screening before you plan it. Raising the profile of plastics pollution in the community should be top of the list. More people understanding and caring about the problem adds up to a greater force for change. It’s also useful to think through what other outcomes you want from the event, e.g. to build alliances within the community, to bring in new members to your group, etc.

  2. Choose your location. A central, easy to reach and accessible venue is ideal. It could also be useful to think about the kind of people you want to attract to the screening – for instance, if you’re trying to reach out to young people, is there a venue in your town which might appeal to them? How will you cater for people in terms of refreshments – can you find a venue that will provide them? Don't forget to think about accessibility too to make sure everyone who wants to come, can.

  3. Promotion, promotion, promotion. Now you’ve found your venue, you need people to hear about your event. Make sure you get the word out there in as many ways as possible. Consider using posters and leaflets, social media, email and local media. Facebook is particularly useful for getting your event out there. Use Facebook’s search function to look for community Facebook groups around you and post in there – and don’t forget to ask people to share. The owners of the venue might also help with promotion, so it’s definitely worth asking.

  4. Greet people and introduce the film. Before the film starts this is your chance to make a good first impression with people and make them feel welcome. So make sure you have someone on the door greeting people as they come in. Think about introducing the film with a few words while they are fresh and excited about it – and use this time to briefly introduce your group and your work.
    Top tip: You might also want to put a collection box at the back and tell people that these events cost money so a suggested donation would be appreciated – a good way to help you cover the cost of the screening!

    It might also be worth considering having a panel discussion after the film, and inviting your local MP or people from the council. It's a great way to engage people with the issues and it can help put some extra pressure on decision makers.

    Top tip: if you do this, remember it's a fairly long film so give people a heads up when you're promoting it that there will be Q&A or discussion after the film. And start nice and early so the event doesn't end too late in the evening.

  5. After the film – wrap it up and get people to do more. When the film is finished, it’s a good opportunity to talk to people about what they might do next. It's really useful to have another date for their diaries coming up. So before the screening, think about the next activity you could invite them to.
    Top tip: don't forget to take a sign-in sheet so that you can collect people's contact details. Remember your sign-in sheet needs to comply with the new data protection laws – check out our website to make sure.

You might also want to think about:

  • Tickets – if you want to have a better gauge on how many people you’re expecting to turn up, you could have a ticketing system. You could use an online platform like Eventbrite to help you manage this. Eventbrite will also help promote your event for free. Or if you’d like to try a platform that allows you to advertise events, create petitions and more, why not consider using Action Network? Find out more about Action Network.

  • Create a Facebook event – lots of people hear about events through Facebook, and will also share it with their friends.

Important: the film’s message and our campaign

A Plastic Ocean presents the problem of plastic pollution really powerfully. It shows the devastation caused to our environment and how its impacts are felt all over the world.
While the film presents the problem really well, it’s important to point out that the solutions it promotes are not quite what Friends of the Earth is calling for.

The film presents recycling as the solution, and shows a technology which turns plastic products back to nurdles – small plastic pellets which can be made into other products. 

Friends of the Earth’s position is that recycling is not the answer. Depending on the type, plastics can generally only be recycled a few times, and some types not at all. Each time plastic is recycled its quality is reduced, so before long it has to be disposed of. This means it goes to landfill (or worse, is incinerated), but too often it escapes to pollute the environment before that point. 

Some forms of recycling, such as when plastic bottles are turned into things like fleece jackets, cause plastics pollution through abrasion. This is when plastic microfibres are washed and worn off the product in the laundry and end up being flushed into the oceans where they can get into the food chain.

The solution to the plastics pollution crisis is to dramatically reduce how much plastic we are using. We're proposing an 'End Plastics Pollution' law that will guide government action to phase out of all but the safest and most essential plastics.

Turning the film’s message into a discussion

When you screen the film, you’ll need to make it clear that our position on the solution to plastics pollution is different to the one in the movie. Some of the solutions presented are false solutions, so you’ll need to be really clear about this. They include:

  • Making diesel from plastic, which causes dangerous air pollution;

  • The use of ‘pyrolysis’ - heating up the plastic to change its chemical composition, which reates pollution similar to incineration;

  • Recycling – which puts plastic back into circulation but will one day end up out there polluting the environment.

This makes for a great topic for discussion, because it gives you the chance to explain why recycling isn’t the answer, and that we need to use less plastic and call for a phase out instead. 

Arranging putting on a screening – How to get started
If you’d like to organise a screening of A Plastic Ocean, write to It would also be helpful if you could fill in and send this form.
We have to pay around £40 for each screening, so if your group is able to make a donation towards the cost it would be really helpful.