Music video highlights Edinburgh’s plastic bag problem

Rhys Fullerton's video highlights the problem of carrier bags, and other assorted rubbish, that gets stuck in trees. Picture: contributed
Rhys Fullerton's video highlights the problem of carrier bags, and other assorted rubbish, that gets stuck in trees. Picture: contributed
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THEY are the eyesore emblems of a throwaway society, blighting the landscape and choking wildlife across the globe.

But one city filmmaker has used the humble plastic bag to create an unlikely music video with echoes of a famous camcorder scene from hit movie American Beauty.

Set to a track composed by an award-winning musician friend, the stunning three-minute piece by Rhys Fullerton shows plastic bags fluttering in trees.

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And despite its quirky arthouse feel, the video for William Gray’s song Riddle Me Thistle aims to highlight serious issues surrounding plastic waste.

Rhys, a 30-year-old former film student from Bellevue, said: “I have known William for a while and he asked me if I wanted to make a video.

“When it came to the subject matter, he gave me a free range. He said: ‘Just do what you want’.

“I have been noticing bags in trees for a long time. It is a horrible subject but that doesn’t mean the video is depressing.

“Although plastic bags might seem to be an ugly thing, it’s quite nice to watch them and that’s why it was good to put it to the music.

“Some of these plastic bags have probably been in the trees for years and I didn’t have to travel far to find them.

“Edinburgh is a beautiful city and it’s not nice to see bags in trees. I wondered where they came from – have they come out of people’s bins or have people simply dumped them?”

Rhys collected more than 100 clips of the debris from late February to early March, whittling it down for the final cut.

It features footage taken all over the city centre from Broughton to Princes Street Gardens, from the West End to Roseburn.

Gerry Farrell, the advertising guru and Evening News columnist who helped start the Leithers Don’t Litter campaign, praised the filmmaker for raising awareness of the issue.

He said: “I can see plastic bags hanging in the tree from my window and I don’t find them particularly beautiful.

“Every single piece of plastic on the Earth is still there – it doesn’t biodegrade.

“Plastic is already killing marine animals and birds in tremendous quantities. Around 40 per cent of the ocean’s surface is plastic, and there is one [plastic debris] island called the Great Pacific garbage patch which is twice the size of Texas.

“There has been a drop in the amount of plastic bags in circulation since the introduction of the 5p charge but that doesn’t stop discarded carriers bags flying up on the wind and ending up in trees.”

Riddle Me Thistle is taken from William Gray’s fifth album Flounce. Originally from the UK, he now lives in China where the album was recorded and was released last month.

William decided to go solo in 2009 following the break-up of The Smokestacks of which he was a founder member.

His first solo outing, None of the Above, drew favourable comparisons with renowned songwriters including Badly Drawn Boy and Damon Albarn.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com