Ridley Scott, Kevin Macdonald Reteam for YouTube’s ‘Life in a Day 2020’ Crowd-Sourced Documentary

Ridley Scott, Kevin Macdonald - YouTube Life in a Day 2020
Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP (Scott); Sipa USA via AP (Macdonald)

Ten years after the original film, YouTube has ordered a sequel to “Life in a Day,” reuniting executive producer Ridley Scott and director Kevin Macdonald for a new documentary that will stitch together hundreds of user-submitted videos from across the globe on a single date.

“Life in a Day 2020” is slated to premiere at next year’s Sundance Film Festival and on YouTube in 2021. The project marks one of the first titles to be confirmed for Sundance, which doesn’t normally reveal selections until early December.

The film will be compiled from video clips submitted by people on the same day — Saturday, July 25, 2020 — to tell the story of a single day on Earth, following the conceit of the original.

“Making the first ‘Life in a Day’ was one of the most joyful and eye-opening experiences of my life,” Macdonald said in a statement. “I am thrilled, 10 years later, that we are making ‘Life in a Day 2020.’ In that time, how have we changed? How has our relationship to filming ourselves changed? And at this extraordinary turning point in history, what are we hoping for in our future?”

YouTube will accept video submissions at lifeinaday.youtube. All footage must be filmed only on July 25; participants will then have until Aug. 2 to upload their content to be considered for inclusion in the film. All subjects who appear in the videos (even strangers) must sign appearance-release forms.

Once submissions close, a 30-person team around the world will begin reviewing and translating submitted videos. The film’s three principal editors — Mdhamiri Á Nkemi (“Blue Story,” “The Last Tree”), Sam Rice-Edwards (“Whitney”) and Nse Asuquo (“The Stuart Hall Project,” “The Jazz Ambassadors”) — will then embark on the massive post-production effort, working with Macdonald to shape the film’s final narrative from the submitted footage.

The 2020 iteration of the documentary-film project is executive produced by Ridley Scott (“The Martian,” “Gladiator”) and Kai-Lu Hsiung (“Lords of Chaos”), and directed by Macdonald (“Whitney,” “One Day in September,” “The Last King of Scotland”).

The original “Life in a Day” film, commissioned to mark YouTube’s fifth anniversary, used videos shot on July 24, 2010. The project attracted 80,000 submissions and premiered at Sundance in 2011. That was followed by a worldwide theatrical release and the film also aired on NatGeo in the U.S. It has been watched on YouTube over 16 million times (watch it at this link).

The original “Life In A Day,” spawned a number of similarly themed, but country or festival-specific projects. These include 2012’s “Britain In A Day” by Morgan Matthews and “Japan in A Day” by Philip Martin and Gaku Narita; 2013’s “Christmas In A Day” by Kevin Macdonald and Ilona Kacieja; 2014’s “Italy In A Day” by Gabriele Salvatores; 2015’s “India In A Day” by Richie Mehta; 2016’s “Spain In A Day” by Isabel Coixet; 2017’s “Canada In A Day” by Trish Dolman; and 2019’s “Panama In A Day” by Ricardo Aguilar Navarro and Manuel Rodríguez.

Variety’s 2011 review of “Life In a Day” called the 95-minute film “an emotional and problematically assembled feature-length compilation,” saying that the “patchwork quilt” of poignant moments “come and go, almost arbitrarily, while Macdonald’s aesthetic backs away from drawing out any big ideas just as it retreats from a more radical collage approach.”

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with YouTube again, a decade after ‘Life in a Day’ premiered and captivated audiences at our festival,” Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson said in a statement. “Given the extraordinary current moment, I think it’s the perfect time to premiere this for a new edition of a work that so powerfully demonstrates the power of cinematic storytelling to reveal and celebrate our shared humanity.”

Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, said “this is an important moment to revisit this inventive film concept with Ridley and Kevin.”

“This project truly demonstrates the uniqueness of YouTube by showcasing the power of the human experience told through the eyes and cameras of individuals around the world,” said Daniels, who joined YouTube in 2015.

“Life in a Day 2020” is directed by Kevin Macdonald. Ridley Scott and Kai-Lu Hsiung serve as executive producers and Jack Arbuthnott and Tim Partridge are producers. The documentary is produced by Scott’s RSA Films in association with Partridge’s Flying Object.

Watch a video from Macdonald and Scott issuing a call for contributions: