Ridley Scott, YouTube team up for crowdsourced doc

Gladiator director Scott, Touching the Void helmer Kevin Macdonald and the online video hub are collaborating on what's being called the 'world's largest user-generated feature film.'
July 7, 2010

The concept of crowdsourcing for content received a major-league boost today. Filmmakers Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, Alien) and Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, One Day in September and the features State of Play and Last King of Scotland) will be teaming up with YouTube and potentially millions of amateur auteurs for a cinematic experiment called Life in a Day.

The directors are calling for individuals from around the world to film moments in their lives on July 24, 2010, and upload the footage to the online video portal. From there, the raw material will be edited by Macdonald into a feature length documentary. Macdonald will act as director for Life in a Day, while Scott and his Scott Free Productions will executive produce.

In a video interview hosted on the project’s YouTube page, Macdonald said the aim of the project is to provide ‘a record of what it’s like to be alive in that one day.’ He also issued a set of criteria that he would like contributors to consider when filming: ‘What do you fear,’ ‘what do you love’ and ‘what makes you laugh.’ As well, Macdonald would like budding filmmakers to look within themselves further when shooting – specifically, to take a shot or two of what’s in their pockets.

The YouTube page also lists a series of dos and don’ts for those wishing to participate. Uploading clips containing uncleared, copyrighted material (music, film and/or TV footage) is, of course, a no-no, as are clips containing trademarks.

LG Electronics is the presenting sponsor for the experiment, and the Sundance Institute is a creative partner. Of the individuals whose footage makes it into the final cut, 20 will be selected to attend the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In order to make the film truly representative of the ‘global village,’ Scott Free will be working with Against All Odds Productions CEO Rick Smolan to distribute cameras to citizens of remote and underdeveloped countries.

‘There’s no excuse,’ said Scott in a video interview concerning the project posted on YouTube. ‘You have a digital camera; go out and shoot your film.’

The project bears a similarity to The New York Times’ A Moment in Time user-generated, global photo gallery that debuted last May, in which photographers from around the world uploaded an image to a special online site at a designated time.

It’s closer still to another crowdsourcing initiative, dubbed One Day on Earth, which also seeks to collate video contributions from around the globe that will then be released as a 120-minute theatrical doc. For that project, videographers have a little more time to prepare – organizers are setting a date of Oct. 10, 2010 (or 10/10/10) for ‘ documentary filmmakers, students, and inspired citizens’ to participate in what’s also being billed as an ‘historic event.’ On the project’s site, co-founder Kyle Reddick writes that the origins for ‘One Day on Earth’ date back to September, 2008. Kathy Eldon, founder of one of its supporting partners, Creative Visions Foundations, wrote an op-ed piece about the project for the Huffington Post, dated June 28.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.