Revenge of the Ninja Turtles

Angela Sun, Los Angeles; filmmaker, journalist, and Yahoo! Sports Minute host

Angela Sun, Los Angeles; filmmaker, journalist, and Yahoo! Sports Minute host. | Tobias Knipp/Courtesy of Angela Sun

"I MADE THE DOCUMENTARY Plastic Paradise to debunk the urban legend of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

"My day job is hosting TV shows, but I've done a lot of short-form documentaries, so this film started as a short piece. But as I kept peeling back layers and learning more, I couldn't explain it all in just a few-minute segment. 

"Basically, people think there's a giant patch of trash out in the Pacific Ocean that's all glued together, like nylon, that you can step on and walk all over. It's actually scarier.

"The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of five gyres in the world's oceans that contain vast areas of floating garbage. Trash dumped in the ocean gets sucked into a vortex and just sits there and collects--sort of like water spinning in a toilet bowl, but without the flush. 

"Near the Pacific Garbage Patch is a small island called Midway Atoll, one of the few places you can land and actually see where all this stuff collects. You have to fly for more than 10 hours with multiple stops to get there and you find all this junk in the most wild of places.

"The most insidious part isn't even the amount of trash we found there but that it dates back 20, 30 years. It's not garbage you're throwing out today, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys from the '80s, old computer monitors, 35-millimeter film caps. Nobody uses stuff like that now unless they're super-hipster or something. 

"This movie was made very run-and-gun, getting friends' help by bribing them with my Hawaiian teriyaki sliders, which are world famous in my head. [Laughs.] When I was shooting and couldn't get anybody, I would press Record, run in front of the camera, interview somebody, then shoot cutaways. 

"Now, friends and family text me stuff like, 'Dang it, I can't see things the same way anymore,' or 'Aw man, I have to think now.' And I feel like, OK, I've done something."

A World Away Midway Atoll is a national wildlife refuge and a haven for millions of seabirds. As seen in Sun's documentary, fistfuls of plastic can be found in the stomachs of dead birds.

On the Web Find a screening of Plastic Paradise at plasticparadisemovie.com.

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