Life In A Day: A Movie by the Global YouTube Community (and my I Told You So moment)

A primary motivation for writing the Open Life book, as well as this blog, was not only to write about open source software, but to encourage applications of open source outside the world of software. Part four of the book covers such topics from Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg to a mining company releasing it's mining data to the public. Some of the chapters also propose some ideas that had not been done yet at the time of writing. One was open source movies.

When writing about open source movies I went on to speculate that a movie production might not necessarily benefit a lot from using the open source method. For one thing I believe that a typical movie script, like any story, is best written by one or a couple primary authors at most. The story is in the head of some person who is the best to write it. A similar problem is around lead actors - they are usually the same person from beginning to end. (Although, advances in Computer Generated Imaging changes this, you could make a movie like the Avatar with using different actors to create the movements behind the animated characters.)

From this I went on to propose that an open source movie should in that case abandon the traditional Hollywood storyline and just tell a different story. A story not economically feasible for the traditional production company: A story without lead actors, filmed by hundreds of people in hundreds of locations - something only possible by open source methods.

Well, what do you know: That's exactly what the YouTube produced movie Life In A Day did! It's a 90 minute film edited out of 80,000 (that's eighty thousand!) clips submitted to the project. All filmed in different places on our Earth on July 24th, 2010. (I have no idea how the editor is supposed to have sifted through 4500 hours of footage??)

It was premiered on Sundance this week, but is not yet available online. You can however watch interviews with 20 of the actors that were invited to be present at the premiere, such as 11 year old Abel, shoe polisher from Lima, Peru. (Watch that one, in addition to the sadness and hardships, it features a One Laptop Per Child laptop and Wikipedia in action!)

To be precise: None of the YouTube material is available as Creative Commons or any other Open Content license as far as I can tell. The footage was just uploaded on YouTube which gives YouTube the right to use it in production, but not anyone else. Considering that there are tens of thousands of unused clips, this is a terrible wasted opportunity! On the other hand, this follows the "ignore the licenses and copyright and just embrace your creativity" principle I've observed YouTube doing also in the past.

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