The Smog of the Sea

About the Film

The Smog of the Sea chronicles a 1-week journey through the remote waters of the Sargasso Sea. Marine scientist Marcus Eriksen invited onboard an unusual crew to help him study the sea: renowned surfers Keith & Dan Malloy, musician Jack Johnson, spearfisher woman Kimi Werner, and bodysurfer Mark Cunningham become citizen scientists on a mission to assess the fate of plastics in the world’s oceans.

After years of hearing about the famous “garbage patches” in the ocean’s gyres, the crew is stunned to learn that the patches are a myth: the waters stretching to the horizon are clear blue, with no islands of trash in sight. But as the crew sieves the water and sorts through their haul, a more disturbing reality sets in: a fog of microplastics permeates the world’s oceans, trillions of nearly invisible plastic shards making their way up the marine food chain. You can clean up a garbage patch, but how do you stop a fog?

Using nostalgic super-8 footage, sparkling underwater cinematography, an original score by Jack Johnson and shipmate Simon Beins, and live action footage of the crew’s research, The Smog of the Sea provides a new perspective on the once pristine oceans, and makes an artful call to action for rethinking the scourge of the sea — single use plastic. Directed by Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ian Cheney (King Corn, The City Dark, The Search for General Tso).

About the Filmmaker

Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. His films and collaborations include King Corn, The Greening of Southie, Truck Farm, The City Dark, The Search for General Tso, Bluespace and The Smog of the Sea. A former Knight fellow at MIT, he is currently a lecturer at Yale College. He lives in Maine.
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Cinematography - Ian Cheney & Jack Johnson
Sound Recordist - Simon Beins
Executive Producers - Kim Johnson, Emmett Malloy, Jack Johnson
Produced by Kizzy O’Neal
Written, Edited, & Directed by Ian Cheney

Additional Cinematography - Dan Malloy, Kimi Werner, Keith Malloy, Moe Johnson
Sound Editor – Chris Shilakes
Colorist – Loren White