YouTube's first movie opens in Hong Kong

YouTube's first movie opens in Hong Kong

"Life in a Day" -- footage from 80,000 lives lived on a single day, edited into a coherent piece of cinema

The documentary "Life in a Day" opened in theaters in Hong Kong on August 4. The full-length documentary was made from more than 80,000 YouTube submissions from ordinary people who filmed a single day in their lives, all on July 24, 2010. 

We asked YouTube Hong Kong regional marketing manager Sharon Ng to tell us more about this film.

CNNGo: How did the idea for the film come about?

Sharon Ng: The concept of a global project like this is not new, but the medium in which the elements are laid out –- through the Internet, and in particular, YouTube –- is certainly groundbreaking.

"Life in a Day" is a film directed by Kevin Macdonald, produced by Ridley Scott’s production team and shot by the global YouTube community. 

At the very beginning, Kevin Macdonald intended "Life in a Day" to be an experimental and artistic film that could give future generations a glimpse of what it was like to be alive on July 24, 2010.

It is as much an event as it is a film and it couldn’t possibly exist without a bunch of user-generated videos.  

CNNGo: How did you feel after seeing so many people’s lives?

Ng: It is very exciting to learn about people’s lives around the world on a single day. What looks banal to them captured in the historic documentary could be something very fascinating and new for us as we are living in another part of world.

YouTube received more than 80,000 submissions from 192 countries, totaling  4,500 hours of deeply personal, powerful films. From Hong Kong to Zambia, the collection of films range from the heart of bustling major cities to the furthest and most remote edge of the earth.

The documentary showed Balinese women dancing at the traditional full moon festival, a Korean traveler biking all around the world and the delicate relationship between a Japanese father and a toddler. It exposed people’s emotions, disquiets, opinions and exclamations.

CNNGo: If you were to submit a video according to the theme, what would it be about?

NgI would probably submit a video about my baby boy eating an ice-cream in a shower room.

CNNGo: How did the team come up with the questions “Tell us your story, tell us what you fear and show us what you have in your pockets” as part of submissions requirements?

Ng: Kevin Macdonald had very little idea of the scope of footage he could edit into a 90-minute full-length documentary. To steer people towards certain patterns of response that could be compared and contrasted, he created a basic framework and provoked certain honest discussions amongst contributors by asking them to “tell us your story, tell us what you fear and show us what you have in your pockets.”

CNNGo: What is YouTube’s expectation for this film? Is there a box-office target?

Ng: "Life in a Day" is a film created by the world, for the world to see. We want to ensure that everyone can watch the film no matter where they live.

So we live-streamed it during the premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2011 and again on January 28, 2011 on After the Sundance premiere, the film has undergone a world tour and then will be shown in Asians theatres such as Japan and Hong Kong.

CNNGo: How was the reaction from Hong Kong YouTube users? And how many of them made it to the film?

NgYouTube received more than 80,000 submissions from 192 countries, totaling over 4,500 hours of deeply personal, powerful films.

In Hong Kong, more than 500 videos were received by YouTube Hong Kong. Submissions were cut down to create the critically-acclaimed, 90-minute documentary featuring 1,000 clips from YouTube users around the globe.

CNNGo: What is your favorite YouTube video?

NgThe family in the experimental documentary who had been going through cancer, they were the bravest people in the whole world. They filmed that whole thing with their child.

CNNGo: How much time do you spend watching YouTube?

NgYouTube is my life and I spend three or four hours a day on YouTube. I like to watch a wide variety of premium content and user-generated videos from around the world such as the latest music videos and movie trailers.

Recently, I have been watching baby-related videos with my baby boy. I learn a lot of useful parenting tips from all these great video tutorials.

CNNGo: What’s next for YouTube?

NgOver the last six years, YouTube has connected and changed the world through videos. "Life in a Day" is one of many efforts by YouTube to push the boundaries in music, art, and now film.

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 and YouTube Music Day Live event in Hong Kong are examples of the convergence of online video with traditional arts, while "Life in a Day" takes this effort into the cinematic realm. We will continue to bridge the gap between user-generated content and the entertainment industry.