There was a full moon that night.
It was mid-summer – July 24, 2010, to be precise – and in London, a group of ground-breaking film-makers prepared to reach the most profound conclusion.
Their finding, one that speaks loud and clear to us in our studio: That we are all connected.
You must forgive us, because we have jumped the gun a little.
It’s just that such things excite us so.
That full moon, we’ll revisit in due course. First, a little more on the movie.
It is like nothing else in cinematic history, an epic, for sure, but not one that bears the merest resemblance to Ben Hur or Gone with the Wind.
Called Life in a Day, it is a movie that forsakes traditional film-making methods. To use a technical term that does the end result no justice, it is categorized as a ‘user-generated feature film’.
You see, the 90-minute movie was patched together using film clips submitted by more than 81,000 people from all over the world, each one shot on July 24, 2010.
It offers a quite remarkable snapshot of a 24-hour period on our planet, a unique window into lives all over our Earth, filmed by people described as ordinary, the result anything but.
The effect is astonishing. Just take a look at the trailer.
To quote the director, Kevin Macdonald, the aim was to ‘…create a whole movie from intimate moments; the extraordinary, the mundane, the preposterous … to take the temperature of the planet on a single day.”
Those accepting the challenge agreed to upload their footage to You Tube to be catalogued.
It soon became obvious that the film-makers had underestimated the response.
Submissions came from people in 192 countries, the clips totalling around 4,500 hours.
That’s enough for one person to watch for 10 hours a day, seven days a week for almost 18 months.
Kevin describes the offerings as ‘gems of all varieties … heart-rending singing from Angola, ghostly footage of elephants bathing by moonlight, emotional records of family life in the shadow of cancer, humorous travelogues around Kabul, beautiful footage of a family living on a boat on the Nile … all human life, and quite a bit of death, was there. That, I suppose, is what struck me most … we had a record of most, if not all, the major human experiences: birth, childhood, love, pain, joy, art, exhilaration, illness and death … the fundamentals of every life, present in all their colours.”
Kevin and his colleagues, working under producer Ridley Scott, began the project open-minded, but as certain patterns began to emerge in the footage, connection came to the forefront.
It was that moon, according to Kevin, that did it.
‘Through good old-fashioned luck, it happened to be a full moon and we got hundreds of shots. So we started with a dozen images of it, shot in different countries. It was a strong unifying image.
‘We’re all under the same moon.’
The notion simple but deep, this is Kevin Macdonald’s triumph.
You see, the film captures lives diverse, but running through them all the same threads.
The same routines – awakening, stretching, brushing teeth, breakfasting – over and over.
The same emotions – love, fear, hope – repeating again and again.
The same day, the same planet and the ultimate in connective symbolism: the same moon.
The people, on one level all so different, on another all so alike.
People from all backgrounds, from the United States to the developing world, to where the team dispatched 400 digital cameras to ensure their unique portrait of life covered all angles.
To quote Kevin one more time, and at some length ‘…some of the most beautiful stuff came from that. The shoeshine boy in Peru, a sequence about a Masai woman in Kenya.
‘What surprised me was how generous people were with their time and effort in sending material in. It made me think ‘hmmmm, the world’s a pretty good place, there are some nice, decent people out there. It was an emotional experience finding oneself in a room with people from all over the globe – Japan, Indonesia, The US, Peru, Ukraine, Russia – who had nothing in common but the fact that they’d contributed to this film.
‘I think the contributors came from a special, self-selecting little group. To take part they had to be, almost by definition, generous, unmaterialistic people who cared about sharing what was special to them. People’s preoccupations are few and simple – family, love, not being alone, not wanting to live through a war, feeling frightened of illness and death. That’s it, that’s what life is.’
Generous, unmaterialistic, interested in sharing …… in other words, our kind of people.
It’s a shame that we don’t recall our precise movements on July 24, 2010, although if pushed, we’d bet that at some point during that historic day, we will have been in our studio making OMs.
One thing is certain, that our working day over, we will have looked out at that beautiful full moon.
Like countless others all over the planet.
Sharing an experience. Coming together. Connecting.
You too can share Life in a Day, just click here.
We are all connected.