Friday, July 9, 2010


It was inevitable, perhaps, that somebody would attempt to crowdsource a movie. Who better than YouTube, in collaboration with Oscar-winning documentary director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and Producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner)?

The team is creating "Life in a Day" -- a film experiment that is asking YouTube users from around the world to upload short, nonfiction video clips of their lives to a designated channel on YouTube. The goal: to create a user-generated, feature-length, content-driven documentary -- which Macdonald will stitch together into a video collage representing one 24-hour period of human life on the planet. The film will premiere on YouTube, for free, on the same day the film debuts at next year's Sundance Film Festival. Scott's production company will own the rights to the final film.

According to The Wall Street Journal's "Digits" blog, Macdonald has hired 10 multi-lingual editors to help filter the good stuff from the dross and start cataloging user clips for review. And here's the good part: to help spur the creativity of the crowd, Scott is distributing 500 free video cameras to NGOs and nonprofits in 20 countries and "areas on the wrong side of the digital divide" to ensure a multitude of diverse voices are represented.

The concept for the film isn't new: The "A Day in the Life" photo projects published earlier in the decade by leading magazines featured images shot on a single day by various photographers working in multiple locations around the world. Macdonald also told The Washington Post that to prepare for the project, he also studied the Mass Observation Project, which was a project in England in the 1930s that assembled diary entries and opinions of 500 citizens to create a document of the era.

It's also not the first time that YouTube has been involved in a crowdsourcing experiment. Last year, the company partnered with Carnegie Hall to assemble 96 of some of the best musicians on YouTube and got them to play together, offline, in the famous concert hall. But unlike the YouTube Symphony, whose members were determined by an online vote, the YouTube movie will be Macdonald's creative production.

Macdonald told Digits: "Like a lot of filmmakers, I'm very anxious about the Internet because we see the piracy and people stealing our ideas and well, putting them on YouTube, and that's going to destroy the film industry like it destroyed the music industry. This YouTube documentary we're making is the flip side of that. It's about what's really positive about the Internet and the creativity that only the Internet is capable of."

Listen up, citizen videographers. Macdonald says he is specifically looking for video clips submitted on July 24 -- the "day" in the life he is choosing to curate. For more information about the project, watch this video:

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