I want to talk about Life in a Day (2011), dir. by Kevin MacDonald as an example of a new form of documentary filmmaking in the digital age. Stewart in his article “Mysteries reside in the humblest, everyday things: collaborative anthropology in the digital age” talks about a similar project called MyStreet. He argues that projects like this give the opportunity for consumers to be producers at the same time and to give voice to the everyday people without mediation. It also serves to “break down the walls between the academy and the world outside” (2013:307). On the other hand, he also says that the title of the project “MyStreet” gives the people involved some direction of what the film aims to portray. This is similar in Life in a Day. It is constructed by everyday people, portraying what they do in one single day. However, they are also guided by some questions that they have to answer apart form just filming their day. Questions such as “what they fear the most?” or “whom they love the most?”. This does not have a lot to do with their day in general but it can provoke some strong emotions that will make the film more powerful, especially when added to footage about people living under very severe conditions.
The people of the digital age, having access to technology and Web 2.0, produce content similar to Life in a Day and put it on Youtube or Instagram or any other social media every day. Given the amount of views they get it is already taking over the place of mass media or Television. It is highly demanded and people seem to like the fact that it seems so real and they can look into someone’s life/home/family/ etc. This makes me think a little of Black Mirror, a British TV series, which is a critique of society in the digital age. I feel like content produced without a specific aim to portray a message (like Life in a Day)or raise awareness to something is not really documentary, it is just something fun to watch. I also think/agree with Stewart that this might be the future of documentary/anthropological filmmaking, given the demand for materials like this, it does not necessarily mean that it is the right sort of platform.
There are also other concerns with material produced solely by the everyday people, which I think is that it can be just as biased as those produced by an outsider. People don’t always want to put the truth out there and will portray themselves in a way they want to be seen. This is already the case with how people portray themselves on social media, which is often a completely different image of who they actually are. So why would this be different for the purpose of a film similar to Life in a Day?