Comprised of 4,500 hours of video from 192 countries, Life in A Day is a collaborative experiment created by National Geographic, Scott Free UK, and YouTube. The documentary chronicles what it is like to live on Earth today.
After reading Chapter 2 of Dave Saunders’ text, Documentary, which focused on filmmaking trends throughout history, I began to wonder what type of documentary would define our current generation. While films of the 1940s reflected the conflict surrounding World War II, and the Free Cinema Movement in Britain influenced an increased representation of the working class, what film reflects the year 2015?
This question is what led me to the documentary, Life in A Day. This film is something that could not have been produced 40 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Life in A Day was made possible through the connectedness created by the Internet. The filmmakers asked people to send in videos from their life on the specific date, July 24, 2010, and received more contributions than anticipated. The film exposed the cultures of so many different people, and yet illustrated the commonalities we share. Despite our many differences, a reel of people brushing their teeth, or waking up from a nap, unified us. I thought it was a lovely concept to have a film meant to connect our world, be produced by the people living in it.
You can get an idea of the filming technique from this clip:
Experimenting beyond the conventions of an observational documentary, Life in A Daycompiles footage taken by the participants themselves. Some talk into the camera, others just shows us what they see around them, either way, it adds a personal and almost intrusive aspect to the film. I found the footage remarkably similar to Snapchat videos, which unintentionally summed up our generation perfectly. Following the year of the selfie, this filmmaking technique illustrates the nature in which we document our lives today.
The video clips show a glimpse into one person’s life for a short period of time, and then they’re gone, and we’ve moved on to a new person and new country. The live footage portrays a range of human emotions, altering between humorous and disheartening.
Here is a clip of one of my particular favorites. She is describing the contents of her purse: (Note: the chicken-shaped handbag)
Final thoughts on Life in A Day: it inspires you to think. Especially at a time when I am unsure of where my own future will take me, it was important to see how many different lifestyles exist in world. And humans are fascinating…