Here’s a daunting editing assignment: Take more than 300,000 videos and boil them down into one 90-minute documentary film.
For YouTube’s forthcoming “Life In A Day 2020,” the video platform says it received more than 300,000 submissions from 191 countries in more than 65 languages, representing thousands of hours of footage, all recorded on the same day: July 25, 2020.
The film project, “Life in a Day 2020,” comes 10 years after the original YouTube-commissioned documentary, which garnered 80,000 submissions back in 2010 from the same day (July 24, 2010). Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald is returning as director, reteaming with executive producer Ridley Scott. RSA Films managing director Kai-Lu Hsiung also is an executive producer on the film.
The final film will be composed entirely of selected contributions from participants, winnowed down by a team of editors before Macdonald makes the final picks. “Life In A Day 2020” will premiere as part of the Sundance Film Festival next January and on YouTube in 2021.
The 300,000-plus video submissions are already being reviewed by a 30-member multilingual team based around the world. In the next few months, Macdonald and the film’s three principal editors — Nse Asuquo (“The Stuart Hall Project,” “The Jazz Ambassadors”), Mdhamiri Á Nkemi (“Blue Story,” “The Last Tree”), and Sam Rice-Edwards (“Whitney”) — will launch the post-production process on the documentary.
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“We’re definitely not trying to tell the story of COVID. We’re just trying to show people’s lives. It’s about what is important in your life today – what’s the emotional story you are telling today,” Macdonald told Variety last month. The director’s credits include “One Day in September” (which won the 2000 Academy Award for documentary), “The Last King of Scotland” and “Whitney.”
Submissions for “Life In A Day 2020” were open from July 25-Aug. 2. At peak times, on the first and last day of the submission period, people were uploading videos at a rate of one entry per second, according to YouTube.
Countries with the most submissions include the U.S., India, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, the U.K., Mexico, Russia, Canada, and Japan, with 78% of all entries coming from outside of the United States. Top languages listed as primary in submissions include English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Indonesian. Also of note, thousands of submissions were received in Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Vietnamese.
Per YouTube, notable people featured in the uploaded footage include COVID-19 vaccine researchers in Oxford, a journalist covering the Portland protests, Rohingya and Syrian refugees, Black Lives Matter protesters, Tibetan Buddhists in a monastery, and a woman in Texas speaking to prisoners. Additionally, previous participants from the 2010 film submitted footage to be considered for inclusion in this year’s film; Macdonald said he reached out to many of them personally to participate again.