Sparking action on climate
change with the help of
Billie Eilish

Nike is committed to social impact. In 2020, the sportswear powerhouse launched “Move to Zero,” a campaign to address the climate crisis by eliminating all carbon and waste emissions—starting with its own.

After working with Godfrey Dadich Partners on a number of documentary-style videos, including the story of Space Hippie (the most sustainable shoe ever designed) and profiles of professional skateboarder Stefan Janoski and WNBA player and Olympian A’ja Wilson, Nike asked us for help on one of its first “Move to Zero” initiatives: a video series pairing an environmental activist with a “catalyst,” or cultural influencer, to have an honest, approachable conversation about the health of our planet.

GDP was hired to produce the debut episode, featuring singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, along with its creative treatment: What would it look like? How would the video inspire change? And how would we produce it in a time when the United States was battling its second wave of COVID-19 infections?

Tonally, the goal was not to reprimand audiences, but rather motivate them to take action. This required rethinking the typical Q&A interview format. Instead of a flat dialogue between two people, we devised a “question and action” approach, in which each response contained an actionable takeaway. The message: effective activism starts with participation, no matter how small, particularly aimed at millennial and Gen Z viewers.

The film was directed by our executive producer, Paula Chowles, who enlisted director of photography Ava Benjamin Shorr to be behind the lens. Shorr’s other credits include the Netflix documentary Disclosure, executive produced by Laverne Cox, and the Max series Equal. Curating an intimate conversation between two people who had never met—during a lockdown—would be a challenge.

Our solution to physical distancing: the Interrotron, a teleprompter-camera hybrid that projects video instead of text. This would allow Eilish, from a soundstage in Los Angeles, and Dr. Johnson, from her home in Brooklyn, to look directly at each other while talking instead of staring into a camera lens. Production staff at both locations complied with stringent COVID-19 regulations, including same-day testing, protective equipment, and routine surface wipe-downs.

Eilish and Dr. Johnson’s chemistry was a perfect equation: for two hours, and nearly 3,000 miles apart, they probed everything from renewable energy to the role of young people in battling climate change to remaining positive in the face of an uncertain future. To accentuate the conversation, GDP’s post-production team added animation and motion graphics, dynamic editing, and a custom score by Josh Lim, which lended a youthful, cosmic soundtrack to the conversation.

To support the film, GDP developed multiple unique cuts of the interview for use on Instagram, Twitter, and within the Nike app, as well as provided an article on that outlines further tips from Dr. Johnson and resources to learn more.

“Talking Trash: A Conversation about Climate Change,” garnered more than 9 million views in the first two weeks online. One top YouTube comment calling the episode an editing “masterpiece” has more than 1,000 likes. By embracing practical optimism, Eilish’s innate curiosity, and Dr. Johnson’s down-to-earth expertise, Nike and GDP launched a video series that educates and motivates audiences to think about—and hopefully act on—ways they can better the environment.

“What really resonated with everyone at Nike was the fact that the production matched the film’s intent—to usher in a new day for the brand that led with inclusivity and sustainability,” Michael Orenstein, Nike’s director of special projects for influencer marketing and innovation, said at the time of the project. “We’re proud that our first shoot during COVID was a female-led crew on an entirely green set.”