On 24 July 2010, producer Ridley Scott and director Kevin MacDonald teamed up with YouTube in the creation of their next feature film. In an appeal on the YouTube website, MacDonald asked citizens of the world (or at least those who go to YouTube) to film some part of their July 24th, encouraging them to get out into the community and engage with those around them rather than simply monologue to the camera. In the course of the filming, participants were to answer three questions: ‘What do you love the most?’; ‘What do you fear the most?’; and ‘What makes you laugh?’. In addition, they were to film what was in their pockets (or their handbags). The final film is to provide a snapshot of the world that generations will be able to look back on, preserving 24 July 2010 as a kind of time capsule.
The website promises: ‘If your video is included in the final film, you’ll be credited as a co-director and may be one of 20 contributors selected to attend the film’s world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.’ For Scott and MacDonald, the internet as media allows for this ‘global experiment to create a user-generated feature film’ because ‘real life is always more extraordinary than anything you can make up.’ You can read more about the project here. No doubt, the final product will be a celebration of that which makes us human, revealing our lives, fears, and loves that will overlap in more ways that we realise despite geographic and cultural differences.
It’s an interesting project and one that I’m not sure has ever been attempted at such a large scale. Partly-gimmick? Maybe. But nevertheless, the project created an opportunity for people to consider their environment and to a small degree, reflect on their own reality. Their life moves from something that is lived without much notice to a performance that is edited together to fit with the performances of others. It also creates an opportunity for individuals to catch a glimpse of a world bigger than our own. Our day-to-day is connected to a wider world story, showing how we are all playing a part in living out the epic of planet Earth.
A couple of thoughts come to mind as I read about this project — (1) To what extent can this be analogous to helping us to understand that while we are living our individual lives, we are part of God’s overarching story? Scott and MacDonald offer the opportunity to be a part of human history. As Christians, we believe our stories point are situated beyond human history and within God’s drama. (See Wes’ post on our performance in God’s drama). (2) My second thought is slightly more cynical about a project like this, especially with the current cultural trend towards reality TV and fame-seeking. While our participation could lead to a deeper understanding of who we are as humans, to what degree does participatory art feed our desire for fame and other self-seeking aims? Is this less about where we fit within the human story and more about making a name for ourselves?
Photo Credit: YouTube