ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – OCTOBER 04: Kevin Macdonald attends the ‘Whitney’ photo call during the 14th Zurich Film Festival at on October 04, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
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Kevin Macdonald: “Life in a Day” Redux

Back in July of 2010, filmmaker Kevin Macdonald challenged the inhabitants of Planet Earth: “Help me make a movie about a day in your life,” and with that, the director threw open an opportunity that more than 80,000 people in 189 countries responded to. Pick up a camera and show what a day in your life looks like. From more than 4,500 hours of footage, Macdonald and his team created a unique filmed experience that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has subsequently been viewed more than 16 million times.


Ten years later, Macdonald and producing partner Ridley Scott are back with another version of their concept and are inviting any person in the world to contribute. July 25, 2020, is the production date and all aspiring filmmakers, documentarians or amateur camera enthusiasts can send in their slice of cinematic creativity documenting their unique day.

The HFPA talked to Macdonald about the project and what he envisions for the new film.

Did you always know that one day you would revisit the concept?

I always wanted to come back because I had such fun making the first one. We sort of talked about it haphazardly over the years and never really pinned down when we would do it. Then earlier this year the producers got in touch with me and said look, this is the last time to do it, this is 10 years. I was interested for two reasons, one, because I had such a fun time making it, it was such a different way of making a film, it was an interesting weird way of making a film. But also, because I thought it would be so interesting to see how the world has changed and it really is kind of a different planet we seem to be inhabiting now. This is a particularly eventful year.

In regard to that, how much do you think this pandemic will affect the choices people make?

I think it will, but I think it will also reaffirm the kind of central theme of the original documentary, which is the kind of things that bind us together, the things that link us and the common humanity because we are all experiencing this pandemic together and it will just reaffirm that sense of what binds us together as human beings is much more urgent than the kind of cultural factors that divide us.

You had more than 80,000 submissions back in 2010. With awareness from that previous film and social media, what kind of reception are you expecting now?

You are right. At that time, the Internet was not that widely available around the world, smartphones certainly weren’t, that was what rich people in rich countries had. I think the first iPhone was 2007, something like that. 2010 was pretty shortly after the launch of the I-Phone. Now, of course, everyone has cameras. We are used to communicating visually. I think we will get many, many more entries, from many different and more diverse places. I think Asia, Africa, and South America, will be better represented than in 2010.

I am going to presume that you personally cannot watch all the submissions. How will you decide to whittle down and select what goes into your next film?

I can’t watch everything, but I have got a team of 30 or 40 people who speak many different languages. They are going to be the first line of defense; they watch everything in their language and then they are going to give it a star rating system. I will watch probably four or five hundred hours of the best material and from that, I will say okay, I think this is what this material is trying to say, here’s what the world is trying to say on this day. 

For submission information, go to https://lifeinaday.youtube/

Then we just might see your work at Sundance 2021.