Everyone wants to leverage YouTube, and the professional film community is no different. We've seen unknown directors land big Hollywood gigs because of a video they uploaded. We've seen major film studios reap the benefits and word of mouth for new releases by adding the latest and greatest movie trailers to the video portal. But we may never have seen anything quite like this.
Director Ridley Scott ("Alien”, "Gladiator”, & a ton of other awesome films) is hoping to create a feature-length documentary film using only footage uploaded by YouTube users. Titled "Life in a Day," the project is seeking footage of people performing part of their daily routine. Shaving, grocery shopping, walking the dog… whatever your routine may be, they want you to film it and uploaded it to a special YouTube channel. Then, Scott (who is serving as a producer on the film) will pour through the submissions with his director, Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland”) to find the pieces they wish to use. The finished product hopes to assemble a collage of the everyday lives of average citizens.
The director seems to have a very basic concept for the film he hopes to make:
"When structured in the right way these very specific things from ordinary life, which you could see as being very banal, become beautiful and rather communicative.”
This is somewhat reminiscent of the user-created We Are the World cover, where one YouTube user solicited video covers of the song and then put the whole thing together in a nice collaboration video. Of course, that was a project with a much more specific scope.
To call this documentary "experimental" would be an understatement. Exactly what kind of videos is Scott thinking he's going to get here? Will it just be mundane things like people brushing teeth and weeding gardens? Or should he brace for more shocking and more moving or artistic videos? And that's kind of the point, I guess. They have no idea what they're going to get. Says Macdonald:
"I want submissions that are simple but honest. I'm both terrified that I will get nothing interesting and terrified I will be totally overwhelmed with good material.”
Some YouTube users will certainly get fancy with their clips, while others will surely attempt to shoot for humor. Many of the people who participate will no doubt be doing so in pursuit of their own fame and attention. There is simply no telling what kind of footage this project will yield. It could end up being poignant and beautiful. Or it could be the most boring thing ever put to film. But either way, you kind of have to admire the sheer creative guts behind this thing.
While this is clearly an artistic endeavor for the filmmakers, it's a commercial one for the sponsors, LG Electronics. Due to its nontraditional nature, the film is likely to receive plenty of press throughout its lifespan, which LG hopes will translate into boosted brand awareness and sales of their products. And with the film's content being created and supplied by users, there is relatively little cost involved for LG in footing the bill.
It's also a fantastic reminder of the power of leveraging your audience. If you or your business has preexisting fans, you might be surprised at how many of them would be willing to do some of the legwork for you on a promotion–particularly when it involves video.
This project sounds like a win for everyone involved—the filmmakers get free footage, the sponsor gets cheap PR, and the users who upload footage get a chance to be famous (every user whose footage is included in the finished film will receive a co-director credit). The only people who might lose out are the eventual audience members for this film should it end up being a bore. But you never know… it could yield something entirely unexpected and great.