Life in a Day was the first ever user generated film. Co-produced by You Tube and filmmaking legend Ridley Scott.
It was a huge success that I was proud to be part of. I blogged about it from the first moment I heard, to filming, having my entry selected and being 1 0f 25 incredibly lucky people invited out to Sundance. Previous Blogs
Well stage 2 has just kicked off, and if you haven’t heard about it already you may well have been kipping under a rock… This time the giants have invited people across the globe to make their own 15min film for YOUR FILM FESTIVAL.
Well ‘The Turtles’ are registered as an official team in the 48hour film project. Yep you have 48 hours to make a short film that’s the premise.
The organisers give you a line of dialogue, a prop, a character and a genera then you have 48hours to write, shoot, edit, score and deliver your film – I’ve always liked a challenge!
It’s the first time in the history of the competition that Dubai is in the mix and Director Nizar Sfair and I are reuniting to make something special – I hope – maybe even intriguing, interesting and at least a visual feast! We’re all sharing and expanding our usual roles in this ZERO budget project.
With the help of all the highly talented volunteers already signed up to the ‘The Turtles’ including acting coach Miranda Davidson from Miranda Davidson Studios it should have some depth of character, at the very least the actors WILL have a backstory! I almost shed a tear just sitting in one of her classes the other evening… Acting really is a dark art…
Who knows what we’ll come up with, but it should be fun and as soon as I get the nod i’ll post it up here.
Thanks in advance to everyone who’s helping out including Alchemy Films who are providing some equipment, Bareface with additional cast and Optix for the use of their post production facility. Now I better blow the dust off that 5D that helped me out so well with the Life in a Day project.
If you want to learn how to shoot professionally here’s your ANSWER!
LIFE IN A DAY – What a Project! What a Film!
If your been flowing my blog you will know I have written about the joint film project between YOU TUBE and SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS (Ridley Scotts Company) since it was first launched.
It’s a completely user generated film made by You (and me) – the internet obsessed You Tube community!
I was luckily enough to get my entry selected to be part of the film and ever luckier to be one of the 25 invited out to the premier at the festivals of all festivals SUNDANCE! It was such an honor to be invited and meet all the other contributors and film makers a truly inspiring bunch of people! The LIAD production team were also so cool! Director and Oscar winner Kevin McDonald and Editor (aka legend) Joe Walker were so fantastic, genuine and interesting fellas!
Previous DOP Blogs:
Go and see Life in a Day http://goo.gl/c8bbs and 25% of ticket sales goes to your chosen charity.
The film has been getting a lot of press recently and had it’s UK premier last week – it even got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! Now that’s RARE not rotten! I am so glad I entered the competition! There was over 80,000 hours of material submitted, but you know what if you don’t enter you Never win and here’s another inspiring opportunity for aspiring DOP’s to enter!
Make a short film and if selected get to meet up with Producer/ Director Brett Ratner. One of Hollywood’s most successful Directors, Producers and Photographers. Brett is looking for a short film that posses creativity, originality and can captivate an audience.
The winner will get to go on set with Brett as a Production Assistant and get behind the scenes for 2 days to learn invaluable advice from a leading professional.
It’s one of those things that if you don’t enter you will never win! You never know where these type of opportunities might lead..? Who you will meet and where it could take you! So therefore go and make something, use your film making skills, it can be about anything!
My top tip would be to pin down a subject and simply just get on with it, you can over think things and that’s when you can easily give up. Just pick a story or subject and remember what he’s looking for a film that posses creativity, originality and can captivate an audience!
BOOM! Bust out the camera and get involved!
To help with your filming skills so you stand more of a chance of winning I going to give away TWO copies of my books to TWO lucky DOP Blog readers. The titles include:
All you have to do is answer: Why do YOU want to become a DOP?
Leave your answers in the Comment section below
Now I am back in Dubai, feet firmly on the floor after my LA experience and prepping for my first ever feature film. It’s a Bollywood number so very excited about that and even though I am essentially from a Digital Cinematography background I am shooting on 35mm! Yep that’s right, I have shot a few of commercials on 35mm, but this is the real deal…
When I was at Sundance I met Chris Russo who is not only a filmmaker in her own right but also works for Kodak in LA. I explained about the feature at a Kodak Panel Discussion that Vilmos Zsigmond was at, yep the LEGEND DP!
Vilmos was full of so many top tips and advice and Chris kindly invited me to the famous Eastman Kodak headquarters just of Melrose Ave. I got to spend time in their theatre (cinema for fellow Brits) and Chris talked me through various film stock options and differences Vison 2, Vison 3. It was a great experience and one that I am very thankful for.
With the world going digital I fear this might be my first and last feature film to be shot on actual real proper sprocket holed film…. Even Roger Deakins ASC, BSC the lover of celluliod himself confessed that with the induction of the Arri Alexa he might not be continuing on film anymore… That is a Shock Horror!!! (see the article here)
I have always loved the look and emotion that film creates, but as digital improves people including the legend Cinematographer and Winner of the ASC Life Time Achievement Award Deakins are saying that judging between what is Digital or Film is getting increasing harder..? Bizzarly, he never mentions RED or even about the RED EPIC in his interviews, other than saying he’s never used one… Which is a little crazy really when RED is such a big thing at the moment… Anyone whose ever read one of my blogs will know I am a regular RED user and fan and to top it off when I did a talk for Canon last week (about shooting on HDSLR which I am also a big fan of) at CABSAT in Dubai (thanks Brian Henderson from CreateaSphere) I met TED from RED in person and got to check out both the EPIC and SCARLET.
The EPIC is what I am interested in. 5K resolution and fits literally in the palm of your hand, well that’s before you’ve tooled it up with all the regular ‘get up’ i.e. Primes, Matte Box, Follow Focus, Batteries and so on, but still it’s incredibly small and AMAZING!
As well as standard 2D shooting I met Lucas Wilson from 3ality who talked me through possibly the best 3D rig on the market! That’s a lot of meeting people… anyway it’s so good that Peter Jackon’s the Hobbit is currently using 20 of them complete with pre-production versions of the EPIC – now that’s literally EPIC! – sorry I couldn’t resist!
Off to prep, read the script and search through old copies of American Cinematographer to gain ideas! It’s my bible!
Filming on Location and most IMPORTANTLY
THERE’S A DISCOUNT ON AT THE MOMENT $29.97 for all 4 it won’t last…
It was the official Life in a Day premier last night 27/01/11 at the Sundance film festival.
The film which is a unique documentary as it’s entirely made up of clips from the general publics all which were uploaded to You Tube.
The Life in a Day team received over 80,000 clips, which equalled to about 4,500 hours worth of material.
The submissions came from all around the world and featured a diverse amount of subjects from Abel a shoeshine boy in Peru to a young American teenager having his first shave.
If your a reader of DOP blog then you will know that I filmed Ayamatti. He is originally from kerala India and now lives in Dubai. Where he works as a gardner and sacreficies being thousands of miles away from his loved ones so he can earn enough money to support them all.
Re-read the posts!
I was lucky enough to have some of my material used in the final film and was flown out to Sundance to meet some of the other contributors and attend the premier. It was an amazing experience that I am incredibly thankful for! See my interview
The screening took place at the Eccles theatre Park City Utah last night 27/01/11 and simultaneously streamed live on YOU TUBE.
For me I found the film to be a master piece! It showed so many different aspects of LIFE that all took part on exactly the same date! I had to keep reminding myself that all this was happening within the same 24hours.
Some stuff in the film was funny, some incredible, some sad but all in their own way beautiful, honest and interesting. I was honestly blown away by the emotion of each and every submission and the narrative that Director Kevin MacDonald and Editor Joe Walker managed to create.
If you took part and filmed on 24th of July 2010 then congratulations for getting up and out and doing something and if your material made it into the film then you too should be incredibly proud!
If you missed the You Tube live stream, don’t worry you will still be able to see it as National Geographic have picked it up and it’s due to air in cinemas 24th July 2011.
I was really impressed with how good the Canon 5D MKII footage looked on the big screen!
I hope the film makes it way to Dubai so I can take Ayamatti and his mates!
I have been at Sundance now for a few days and it’s been fun packed!
For a DOP Sundance is literally like a dream! I thought American Cinematographer magazine was cool! At Sundance there are filmmakers everywhere, conversations about film making in the street, cafes, panel discussions and of course the films. In many cases these films have been made by sheer passion regardless of any obstacles or budget constraints. The Directors, Producers and Cinematographers really wanted to share these stories and nothing has held them back! Oh and I am forgetting to mention the beautiful backdrop of Park City, Utah where all this is taking place.
I am here because of the entry I sent to Kevin MacDonald and his team for the Life in a Day Project. Fortunately, for me my story about Ayamatti shot on Canon 5D MKII (see other posts in Life in a Day category) made it into this unique user generated film that is partnered with You Tube and Scott Free Productions. It has been a great experience meeting the other filmmakers that have been chosen for the project and hearing their stories and about what and how they decided to film on the 24th July 2010. With us are people from Japan, Spain, Peru, Russia, Bali, New York and more. Joe Walker the editor had one serious job to go through the 84,000+ entries and whittle down the footage for the final cut of the film.
Last night (in the bar) Joe was speaking about it with such passion and how he and Kevin had to battle with themselves about what to keep and what to leave out! As well as the 26 people invited out to Sundance there is a lot more people’s footage in the final film, so if you submitted your story then it could very well be part of it too! The premier is tonight at the legendary Eccles Theatre and You Tube will stream it live on the Life in a Day channel 28th Jan 2011.
At Sundance You Tube have also set up an interactive gallery where people can go and view thousands of the clips via touch screen TV’s. All the footage is meta tagged with hundreds of key words like ‘hot’, ‘extreme’ for quick and easy searching. It’s certainly 2011…
As part of the press for Life in a Day all the contributors had to do an interview…
Yep HG (who is much more comfortable behind the camera) had to get in front of the camera… This is what happens when you flip reverse it and put a cameraman in front of the lens…
Bingo! I know…
As I’m meeting loads of people here I thought I better update my showreel and bring it into 2011.
Hope you enjoy the Premier either at Sundance or on the Life in a Day Channel
If you want to improve your filming skills or Become a Cameraman then take a look at my books. EVERYTHING you need to know you get you on your way to becoming a DOP and loads of Top Tips for established professionals too. There’s also currently an offer on!
After 28 hours of travel I finally made it to Park City Utah! Wooohhhooo!!!
The Sun is aptly shinning and I’m here knee deep in snow at the Sundance Film Festival!
Excitement! Is the only way I can describe it. The place is full of natural beauty at it’s best! The mountains peaks full with snow and film makers everywhere… and I mean everywhere! I just had a conversation with Vilmos Zsigmond about shooting features on 35mm. Vilmos shot The Long Goodbye and Close Encounters of the Third Kind LEGEND!
Last night we had the welcome dinner for Life in a Day and met up with some of the fellow Life in a Day filmmakers, including Catherine Liginsky whose husband Bob and son Bobby documented her coming out of hospital after her breast cancer treatment. Such inspirational, truthful, people full of life and vitality I can not wait to see their material in the film.
As well as all the inspirational contributors I met up with Director Kevin MacDonald and Joe the editor, two incredibly friendly fellow Brits whose passion for the film is infectious! I think Joe almost welled up, just recounting part of the story…
Needless to say the word EXCITED about the premier which will also stream LIVE on You Tube is an understatement!
Fo the rest of the day I have got to do some press and pr – something I am not used to. Being the other side of the lens is an ‘interesting’ experience… Yesterday, I had to talk about the subject of my film submission Ayamatti and my contribution to the film which I think will be live on You Tube any second…
All the team from You Tube are so on top of their game it’s truly remarkable! Off to explore more and take some Medium Format photos! GOOOO OLD SCHOOL!
Two prestigious Filmmakers Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott together with You Tube and Sundance set up a unique competition. Via the internet they put out a call asking anyone with access to a camera to film somebodies ‘Life in a Day‘.
They even sent out cameras to people in various countries so they could participate. The aim was for as many people as possible across the globe to film ‘a day in the life’…
The main rule was everyone had to film on the exact same date 24th July 2010. You then had a few days to put a basic edit together and upload to You Tube. The successful entires would all be edited together to make a feature film. The film would be a time capsule! I never win anything… Not even the Bingo! Boohhhoooo! I hear you cry, (and probably ask ‘do you really play Bingo?’) but then again I never enter anything! EVER! Inspired by a friend of mine who recreated a World Cup moment (in a comedic fashion) and won a trip to the World Cup, I thought why not give it a go? But who to film??? Living in Dubai I decided I really didn’t want to film any opulence, which is the stereotype! So I decided to document a true working representative of the community.
I found Ayamatti, originally from South India. He has been in Dubai for about 15years and works as a gardner. With the money he earns he manages to successfully support his (extended) family back home and has managed to provide an impressive dowry and wedding for his eldest daughter which he and his family are all incredibly proud of!
I knew the shoot had to be shot in a documentary style, something that I have grown up doing so am very familiar with. To make it easy I needed to keep my kit light and simple, after all this wasn’t a low budget shoot, it was NO budget! I set out with my: Canon 5D MKII, 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8 lenses, Z-finder, x2 Neutral Density (ND) filters, Zoom HN4 Recorder, x1 Radio Mic, Rode Mic, 416 Mic, Reflector and Set of One by One Panel Lites which I absolutely love! I had the Bi-Colour version which means you can change from Tungsten to Daylight or do a mix of both and have the ability to dim without any colour temperature change. The One by One’s don’t give out any heat as they are LED and can be battery powered – a real must for any documentary filming interior or exterior.
I barely used a tripod as the sytle of the shoot dictated it be hand held and I didn’t even use a rig. Just the Z-finder pushed hard up against my eye and one hand on the barrel of the lens the other firmly supporting the body of the camera. When your used to shooting on large HD cameras with a Pro 35mm adaptor and Primes or the RED the 5D is so light weight that for certain things if you don’t have access to a hand held rig, then I think you can get away without using one – you will have forearms like Pop Eye!
My two good friends accompanied me on the shoot Elisa, who acted as Producer, PA and Sound person (yep she was very busy) and Shezhadi, who speaks Hindi and acted as a translator. We met with Ayamatti at 5.00am which started off with him washing and a cycle to the local Mosque. We continued filming him going about his daily duties until sunset. One of the things that struck me most was when it was lunch time. I asked Ayamatti if he minded us film him eat. He agreed and proudly laid newspaper on the floor of his very compact yet incredibly tidy room. Ayamatti sat cross legged and ate with his hands. This is common in Indian culture, but it was an interesting experience to document especially as he lives minutes away from some of the most luxurious hotels in the world! Ayamatti was an honest genuine person who was a pleasure to film with. He didn’t seem at all bothered by the camera and was happy to carry on his normal duties while being asked a few questions along the way.
Here is a clip of part 2 (3 parts in total).
It is ungraded and (very) loosely edited together with no music which was the requirement. There’s no subtitles on this version sorry…
They said they received in excess of 80,000 entries. My footage got short listed to the last 100 hours and I received an email about 1 month ago informing me that it had made it into the final film (yep I literally jumped for joy!) and was invited to Sundance (I did a double jump – one where you kick your heels together) and would receive a Co-Directing credit alongside Kevin MacDonald (please don’t ask what I did next it’s still too embarrassing)… Have you seen Entourage’s episode set at Sundance titled ‘The Sundance Kid’..? If you have you would probably be as excited as me! It must have been a tough job for editor Joe Walker!
Should be a great opportunity to meet some interesting people and soak up the film making vibe and of course the States! If you want to watch the Premier of Life in a Day it will be streamed on Life in a day Channel premiering Jan 28th 2011. I plan to do a video diary and regular blog posts directly from Sundance! If you have any questions for Kevin or Ridley please let me know and I’ll do my best to ask them.
I can’t wait to meet the YouTube Life in a Day team who have been fantastic at planning and organising everything for us – Thanks!
SALT LAKE CITY HERE I COME!
PS. Before I head off to the States as promised I will be posting some blogs about Promo work I have just recently done on RED + HDSLR including lots of Top Tips.
PPS. If your interested in becoming a Cameraman/ DOP go to: http://www.howtobecomeacameraman.com and get a copy of my 4 books. There’s also some free top tips!
Thanks so much for all the positive feedback so far, means a lot. If you have already brought How to Become a Cameraman and also want to give some feedback please get in contact info[at]howtobecomeacameraman[dot]com
More people were probably filming on the 24th of July 2010 than any other day…
Ridley Scott and Kevin MacDonald invited people to film themselves or someone of interest for the ‘Life in a Day‘ Project that was in conjunction with You Tube and the prestigious Sundance film festival.
Were you out filming..?
Myself and my crew which consisted of three of us. My friend Elisa acted as Producer, assistant and boom op (she wasn’t 100% keen on the last role – Soundies no fear your job is safe) and a friend Shezadi who acted as translator.
Having to rope in your friends is budget film making at it’s best, but the small crew made for some intimate and personal filming which I hope is reflected in the story. Having braved the Summer heat of Dubai and literally dripping in sweat it better had… Seriously though, having the opportunity to meet and document Ayamatti life in one typical day was worth it alone.
Ayamatti is originally from Kerala, India and is now living and working in Dubai.
He is a proud gardener and general odd job man. His day starts at 4.30am (when most of us are happily tucked up) with a prayer at his local Mosque, he then sets off on his bicycle to 7 individual villas where he maintains the gardens, washes the cars and generally takes care of business. After completing his work, at around 12.30pm he returns home to escape the mid day heat (its now approx 50 degrees!), pray and eat lunch (on a piece of newspaper which acts as his table laid out on the floor of his tiny room).
Ayamatti likes to sit for some time and reflect on the day, he said he thinks about his beloved family back home in India that he’s proudly able to support thanks to his hard work and sacrifice of being away from them.
After this reflection Ayamatti visits another local Mosque to have the fourth prayer of the day, before heading back home to relax a little and perform his fifth and final prayer of the day, eat something and have a well deserved kip… all before the clock strikes 4.00am…..
Here’s a clip of Ayamatti getting ready for Prayer
24th July was a busy day for lots of people both in-front and behind the camera. I am really looking forward to seeing what people filmed and a glimpse into many people’s lives around the world. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to learn about others, their culture and the lives they lead…..
Here’s a great example of a life in someone’s day….created by Christiaan Van Vuuren
Being kept in quarantine like that must have been horrible… The crew must have been wrapped up in all sorts of gear…!
By the end of our day we were all happy to wrap, plus my triceps hurt, I put that down to holding the 5D MK II out in front of me all day… I chose to shoot our film 90% hand held, due to the documentary format. The Z Finder helped keep the 5D steady as it meant I had three points of contact with the camera and also allowed me to see the image clearly for focus, framing and exposure. If I was planning to shoot a lot of future hand held work on a HDSLR, it would be worth investing in a hand held system like the Double Barrel or something similar to distribute the weight and make it more evenly balanced.
I have shot a few projecst on HDSLR Cameras and hold the mantra ‘It’s not what you shoot it on, but it’s how and what you shoot that is of real importance’. HDSLR cameras such as the Canon 5D MK II are getting so much press especially with DP/Director Philip Bloom promoting them.
When I first used a HDSLR last Summer on a BBC project I thought they were just a gimmick, but now I appreciate them. The picture quality is really good and the shallow depth of field that can be achieved even with a zoom lens and wide aperture is quite phenomenal, it’s more akin to traditional film than any other digital camera I have used, well that’s in it’s price range anyway… you know how much I love RED! Especially now the MX sensor has been released! The only one thing I would say is the ergonomics of the camera don’t initially lend themselves to professional filming, but of course they can be adapted and pimped to do so.
Now all that’s left to do for both me and the rest of you that took part in the ‘Life in a Day’ project is the edit…….
I guess to create a full feature film they don’t want fully polished edits, with musics, grades or effects, they need room for some creativity and to ensure the stories work together. With mine being in Hindi, I am quite happy as the edit isn’t going to be as easy as it could be… but I like challenges… I’ve just got to fit this challenge around a weeks worth of shoots before the upcomming deadline. Plus, I’ve got some clients flying out from Maverick Television based in the UK for this project – we’re shooting on DigiBeta! Krazy with a K. I know!
In this current High Definition, Internet obsessed, fast moving world there’s nothing like a bit of old school and I’m sure Ayamatti would agree!
Well the day has arrived, it’s the 24th of July 2010.
Nope it’s not the date when Marty McFly leaped into the future, although someone told me it was a summer date in 2010… We still don’t have flying skateboards… yet..? I am definitely waiting…
This day just like every other day has got 24 hours in it, but the difference about today is it’s the very day Ridley Scott and Kevin McDonald have asked people around the globe to document their or somebody else’s life in a day!
This project adeptly named ‘Life in a Day’ is teamed up with You Tube and is a little like a time capsule for 2010. People from around the world being documented on exactly the same date (as long as people don’t cheat…) The project has had a lot of press so far, which probably has something to do with the two Hollywood ‘Big Doggs’ that it’s been set up by…
Twitter (of course) is going Nuts with #lifeinaday!
My personal day started with the alarm going off at 4.00am… As it is a weekend and I am volunteering to do this project initially I was a little groogy and tired, but I struggled into the clothes I had pre laid out the night before and nudged my girlfriend for the eight time, ‘come on baby time to get up…’
As we had a budget of no dollars, the crew consisted of myself as Director/ DP, Elisa my good friend as Producer/ Camera assistant/ everything and another friend Shezhadi who is acting as translator. For this same reason I have chosen to shoot it on my personal Canon 5D MKII, Zacuto Z Finder, a couple of ND filters, and two lenses a F2.8 24-70mm and 70-200mm. I am also using a set of one by one Lite Panels and as I am doing the Audio by myself (eeekk) I am using a Rode on board mic, 1 Radio and 416.
The reason we need a translator is because our contributor is Ahmed who is originally from India and he now lives and works as a gardener in Dubai.
So far we have filmed Ahmed getting ready for work, cycling to the local Mosque and working on some gardens (mostly watering), not exactly reinventing the wheel I know, but I think we have got some good footage and Ahmed has certainly got an interesting story.
I just tried to upload a clip of what we have shot so far and it looks like You Tube has CRASHED!!! Well it seems that way, nothing will play, upload and all my videos on other posts here were down too… Could this be because everyone has the same idea and is uploading…… Ridley have you single handedly crashed one of the biggest things on the net..?
Well, I better get back to see Ahmed and continue to document his ‘Life in a Day‘…
Should be good… Lets hope I can wake Elisa up who is currently fast asleep on the sofa…
Lets see how the rest of the day goes!
24th July, 24 hours… What did you film for Your ‘Life in a Day’?
If your filming today lets hear about it! Let DOP Blog know about your personal experience, if you have any stories or pics from your shoot, get in contact and leave a comment.