Life in a Day: An Opportunity to…

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


  • Sara Schumacher is the editor and a regular contributor to Transpositions. Prior to life in academia, Sara worked as a graphic designer in Oxford where her experience as an artist and a Christian raised many questions, ultimately leading her to pursue further study in theology and the arts at St Andrews. Sara holds a B.S. in Graphic Design and an A.A. in Cross-Cultural Services from John Brown University and has recently completed an M.Litt in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Andrews. She is currently working on a PhD at St Andrews, focusing on church patronage of the arts.

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  1. says: Jim

    Sara, thanks for this post. I think this is a very interesting project and one that raises a lot of interesting questions. In regards to your first question, I wonder to what extent the editing of the film will require an endorsement of a particular overarching story or meta-narrative about the universe. Just to organize the variety of material that they receive from contributors would seem to require some framework in order to make it all meaningful, and I wonder if there is such a thing as a neutral framework. It is certainly strange to play a part in a movie when you don’t know what happens before and after your part. This project reminds me of a favorite quote from the philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre:

    “Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?\'”

  2. says: Ben

    Sara, thanks for reminding me about this. I had heard about it but had forgotten.
    I think Jim is right to suggest that the editing together of the film will require choosing a framework within which to fit the individual contributions–even if they deliberately choose videos showing opposing outlooks on life, that would simply show something about their views on the importance of diversity of outlook, etc.
    Because this sort of thing is so new, I don’t know that we can come to any conclusions about the potential for this to be either a place for fame-seeking or an illustration of the drama of history. I can certainly see it going far in either direction. We’ll have to find out once it’s done.

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