The premise behind the YouTube documentary “Life in a Day” is interesting: invite everyone around the world to shoot video on one specific day: July 24th 2010. Have people upload their raw footage and edit it so it becomes a short, ninety minute, documentary that chronicles a single day on our planet. Does this extreme form of crowdsourcing actually work?
The goal of a film is storytelling and doing this by combining random contributions seems like a formidable challenge. The organizers received over eighty thousand submissions and had a total of about forty-five hundred hours of footage to work with. For making something coherent out of all this, the film had a lot of talent to work with. Scott Free productions, owned by the brothers Ridley and Tony Scott, known for heavyweights like Top Gun and Gladiator, was involved as production company. Kevin McDonald was attached as director, and Harry Gregson-Williams as composer. The excellent music, and several montages set to rhythm, help a great deal with keeping things dynamic.
The film starts and ends with a view of our moon, and proceeds chronologically from the earliest hours to the end of the day at midnight. Footage from all around the world is included. While the first couple of minutes may seem a bit random, gradually more coherent stories form. Most of these are in the form of personal narratives that give a brief window into the lives of real people. This includes everything from the mundane and materialistic to fairly gripping emotional moments.
The film can be viewed as a time capsule and gives a beautiful broad portrait of the human condition around mid 2010. It presents many events, beliefs and themes in a non-judgemental way, perhaps that’s the greatest strength of this documentary: just allowing the viewer to observe things and not trying to impose a message. A successful experiment. Recommended!
The trailer is below. You can watch the full ninety-minute version on-line here.