Life in a Day – Social Media Crowd-Sourcing

Early this morning (1:00am – 3:00am GMT), YouTube broadcast the premiere of Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott’s documentary feature “Life In A Day” live from Sundance Film Festival – the first time this has ever been done [1]. The film acts as a time-capsule for the 24th July 2010 when all the footage was filmed. Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free Productions, worked with YouTube to produce the documentary and incentivised users to upload and share footage which would be used in the final documentary cut. The YouTube community was asked to film a day in the life of themselves on 24th July 2010 and upload it to the video sharing site. The footage would then be edited and cut to make a 90 minute documentary film on what it was like to be alive on that day – acting as some form digital time capsule formed through social media; this was an experimentation using crowd-sourcing in a fresh and original way. Please see the video below for full details as delivered by the director, Kevin MacDonald:

Thanks to the support and sponsorship of LG, 500 digital film-cameras where sent out to parts of the developing world to capture life in a more representational way. This partnership also aids LG in conveying some of their goals as a brand. For example, the brands tagline, ‘Life’s Good’, (not their company name which was originally Lucky Goldstar [2]) seems to be a positive and appropriate fit for the documentary in question. For more information about LG’s brand identity including further reasoning pertaining to its relevant association with ‘Life in a Day’, please visit their website here [3].

Every single day, 6.7 billion different people experience the world in their own unique way creating personal stories, connections and observations. Regardless of culture or creed or customs or colour, we, as a people, are all inexplicably linked by our most basic and binding of all factors: being human. No matter where we are on the planet, people are able to connect with each other via the abundance of digital communications now available. ‘Life in a Day’ illustrates this perfectly. The producers of the film initially expected around 10,000 videos being uploaded to their page but, instead, received in excess of 80,000 totalling 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries around the world and all of it shot on a single day: 24th July 2010 [4]. The completed film, edited brilliantly by Joe Walker, sought the best footage which was whittled down to an extraordinary 94 minutes and 57 seconds. Some of the footage includes:

  • Skydivers falling to earth
  • Engagements
  • An arranged marriage
  • Arbel, the shoe-shine boy from Peru
  • An Elvis-themed Vegas wedding
  • The inside of an abattoir where a cow is killed
  • A news-reporter in Kabul
  • An American soldier video-calling his wife
  • A gay man coming out to his grandmother
  • Goat herders working in the field
  • A man who has been cycling around the world for the past 9 years and 36 days
  • A woman explaining to her son that she has cancer

I stayed up till the early hours of this morning to watch the premiere as it happened and I’m incredibly glad that I did. It’s a fantastic piece of work that is as ambitious as it is profound.

That’s not to say that the documentary isn’t without it’s flaws. To my mind, one inevitability in life is death and the film seemed to shy away from this somewhat although the more positive footage may be indicative of the way people would prefer to be perceived by others online? This may be a reason as to why there was so much positivity in the uploaded videos.

One piece of footage that was incredibly striking was a monologue filmed by a young woman in her car after she had finished work just before the 24th July became the 25th which was shown at the very end of the documentary. The footage sees her distraught with herself for thinking she’s “not interesting enough to know anything about” and that all she really wants is for “people to know that [she’s] here” – she doesn’t want to “cease to exist” and concludes by saying “nothing great really happened today”. There is something quite poignant about these words which round off 90 minutes of footage from different people around the world, each of whom have let the audience in to very personal aspects of their lives on 24th July 2010.

There is intense feeling of belonging associated with this film all deriving from the connections made possible through social media discourse. 80,000 people came together from around the world to have their work united in a motion picture time capsule which was then subsequently watched by thousands of people at the same time together this morning around the world. Essentially: people connected through people’s connections. In the news-media, many negative aspects of digital communications are highlighted such as piracy, hate groups and cyber-fraud to name a few but ‘Life in a Day’ goes someway to showing how these connections can bring out the best in people in a way that is enlightening and edifying.

This digital era brings new challenges to overcome but also opportunities to discover. I believe that ‘Life in a Day’ was a not only an ambitious technological experiment but also a social one too which challenged what we previously thought could be achieved using social media and pushed aside boundaries which once would have segregated people around the world.



Other useful links:


7 thoughts on “Life in a Day – Social Media Crowd-Sourcing

  1. Pingback: World Spinner

  2. Pingback: Nowhere-Somewhere: The Hybridisation of Reality and Cyberspace « Paul Martin's Blog

  3. Pingback: Proximity Marketing: Too Close for Comfort? « Paul Martin's Blog

  4. Pingback: The Legend of Tony Scott « Paul Martin's Blog

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