Life In A Day Success: HG goes to Sundance!

I guess it’s safe to talk about it now..?  Well the press release has gone out and Sundance is getting closer by the second so I hope so…

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!



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: and get a copy of my 4 books.  There’s also some free top tips!

Good Luck!

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