Home Life in a Day – on YouTube

Life in a Day – on YouTube

If you found those “Day in a Life” books fascinating, you may find YouTube’s latest experiment, Life in a Day, equally interesting. If on the other hand, you found them disappointingly insipid, this may not be your bag.

Life in a Day is being marketed as a “user-generated feature film shot in a single day.” The creators are asking people around the world to upload their quotidian videos to a YouTube channel. The director, Kevin MacDonald (“The Last King of Scotland”), will cut it together.

Produced by Ridley Scott, the director of “Black Hawk Down,” “Gladiator” and “Blade Runner,” the film is also planning to fold in video from cameras given to people (including NGO workers) in “remote” places. Presumably, all the video is supposed to have been shot on July 24. However, as a clock on the YouTube Channel indicates, contributors have until the end of the month to upload that video.

Whose life is it anyway?

One of the key issues with a project like this is how honest the filmmakers are about how much of their sensibilities and values inflect the project. The other is, simply put, how interesting it will be as a film.

To these issues should probably be added the effect Google will have on the how and why of the film. Google, which owns YouTube, is deeply involved with its production. It’s difficult to say how hands-off a company when it has an opportunity to leave its fingerprints on a Ridley Scott movie. Merely by spearheading it and influencing its manner of gathering and distribution it’s already done a great deal of that.

No, but seriously. A day in whose life?

The film has been pre-accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. It has been reported that the contributors whose videos are used will not be paid, but the film will not be sold to a studio either. Instead, it will be available for viewing on YouTube. 20 contributors will be brought to the Sundance premiere, apparently.

Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine how the film is going to capture an average day in anyone’s life, much less the whole of a day for everyone. Among the many elements that will inform the shape of the finished product are the following.

  • It’s being produced by an action movie director
  • Contributors are required to abide by YouTube’s TOS
  • The film has been pre-approved by one of the world’s leading money factories for new movies
  • It looks like it will be larded with self-consciously authentic video from remote places*

It seems more likely that a film about a specific time and definitely place by a single filmmaker might have a better chance of universality than a documentary about everyone by anyone.

But we will, quite literally, see about that.

*Just for the record: I’m reasonably certain that Namibia doesn’t seem remote to the folks in Windhoek. And G-d protect us from a Dreadlock J. Collegestudent’s paternalistic videos of Haiti or Cornelius Jamcrumpet III’s fearless footage of himself hugging the Mashantucket Pequots!

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