I have been torn all morning. The gauntlet was thrown down by famed director/producer Ridley Scott and documentarian Kevin Macdonald. So read the press release: "YouTube joins world famous filmmakers Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald in asking people around THE world to help them create the first user-generated feature-length documentary film shot on a single day - July 24, 2010.
Life in a Day is a historic global film experiment that enlists the global community to capture a moment of its varied life on Saturday, July 24, 2010, and to upload that footage to www.youtube.com/lifeinaday."
Do I dig out my video camera and record my day -- or parts of it -- exposing to all the world what I did and actually upload it?
I am still not sure that I am going to do something. There are still fewer than 12 hours left; I could do my part. But can I throw down a few moments of where I am today, what I am doing, and cogently put it out there on YouTube? Then the anxiety set in and I faced my dilemma.
It would require that I try to lend some coherence to who I am. Whew. I mean, between writing interviews, posting on my Facebook profile, responding to my e-mails or phone calls, I encounter and interact with dozens, if not hundreds, of people daily. Living in Manhattan is a very public act of contact with humanity.
Yet this notion, to document some aspect of my life for a day -- rather than talking to others about theirs -- stirs anxiety in me. It also prompts me to think about who I am in this self-obsessed society, and to understand how this desire, if not the obsessive need, for fame, to post glimpses of our lives for all the world to see, has become transformed into big business thanks to the reality television game and viral site like Youtube.
It has given birth to the Heidi Montags and Kate Goselins of this world whose billowing presence in the mainstream media seems to run in contrast to what innate talents they may have or, so far, have shown they have.
But there are other kinds of self-driven media making that DRAW on the self but TRANSFORM it into something genuinely larger and, in doing so, offer something profound in the doing and the saying.
Veteran director Ross McElwee started out making a documentary, Sherman's March, about some larger subject like the effects of General Sherman's devastating march throughout the South during the Civil War, and turns it into a modern personal statement about his life, loves and fear of nuclear destruction. That's a different kind of self-directed art-making.
I am working on an interview with the Neistat brothers, who have made an HBO series out of the bits and pieces of video-recorded detritus from their lives [it will be up momentarily]. They have crafted a whole television series by telling stories about their life in quirky ways. I am amazed at how they do it, but this thought of making something from my own life -- even from part of today -- has me momentarily paralyzed.
So if I were to be actually selected out of what I figure will be thousands of entries -- what then would I think of myself?
Would I too be transformed into someone who is worried about my larger media presence?
Will that make me driven by what happens to me on stage, or through a camera rather than during direct encounters with those around me?
I can see how that media-infused cause makes people think they don't have to sweat the small stuff as long as they are viewed by thousands or millions.
According to the release, "Life in a Day is one of several efforts by YouTube to push the boundaries of music, art, and now film.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra and the recently announced YouTube Play partnership with the Guggenheim Museum are examples of the convergence of online video with traditional arts and Life in a Day takes this effort into the cinematic realm."
Okay, so maybe I don't do it this time. I missed the gauntlet thrown down before me. But what will be the implications of the film they will make out OF this raw material from many people's lives?
Hey, I think it's a cool idea with fascinating implications, like those photo books that document a day in the life of a different city. They give us a larger sense of the globe, of it being populated by people much like ourselves. But as we become more and more driven by our lives in the digital domain, what's next? Maybe, like Tron, will we just become more infused in the machine -- or will we transcend it...?