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What's so special about a day?

Britain In A Day


That’s exactly what innovative documentary project Britain in a Day intends to uncover. On Saturday 12th November 2011 it asked the British people to turn amateur filmmaker for one day. Inspired by Scott Free Productions’ film Life in a Day, BBC Documentaries and BBC Learning have teamed up with the independent to capture the essence of Britain in a documentary, due to be broadcast in the build up to the Olympics. People young and old, from all walks of life, are being asked to capture moments from their day on any camera equipment  (even a mobile phone), and then upload their short films to the Britain in a Day YouTube site (It is hoped that thousands of people will get involved in the project and answer questions like ‘what do you see when you look out of your window?’ The result will be an entirely user-generated ‘self-portrait’ of Britain, broadcast on BBC 2 in Spring 2012.

A recent spate of successful documentaries drawn from self-shot footage such as Our War, is giving new resonance to the idea of putting audiences right ‘at the heart of the BBC’ .  The immediacy of this type of content has provoked a phenomenal response on social networks, bringing audience interaction full circle. Britain in a Day is taking this one step further by teaming up with BBC Learning to actively encourage involvement from a diverse spectrum of people. 

Charlotte Moore (Commissioning Editor, Documentaries) explained how the idea was commissioned:

“Although the idea of getting people to make films about their lives isn’t a new one, the combination of it being the eve of the Olympics, when the rest of the world is coming to us, and the technology becoming widely available and accessible, meant the timing was right to do it on a scale that had never been done before.  You only have to look at  the footage people were taking of  the London riots to demonstrate just how ready Britain is to make content.”

It is, in fact, a modern take on previous attempts to tap into the voice of the people such as the Festival of Britain in the 1950s or Video Nation in the ‘90s. One of the considerations in commissioning Scott Free London was that they were a company which had both the capacity and track record to pull off such a vast project. A previous collaboration with YouTube demonstrated the potential for Scott Free to manage this unique production. 

A clear message from every party involved in Britain in a Day, is that this is not just for the young and supposedly techno-savvy. Broadcast on BBC 2, this is a programme that will be created by a broad audience, for a broad audience. BBC Learning ran courses across the UK to guide and encourage filming from a range of people. Information and how to guides are also provided on the BBC website as well as films from Morgan Matthews including tips for filming. As Andrew Tomlinson, Executive Producer in BBC Learning highlights, this is not just a programme, but an opportunity to reach large numbers who can "learn something to take away with them for the rest of their lives".  Perhaps that is what’s so special about Britain in a Day; it is a truly collaborative production that asks the whole of Britain to get involved.

On both the BBC and designated YouTube sites, Director Morgan Matthews and Executive Producer Ridley Scott raise the sorts of questions they want answered "What makes you happy?"and "what are your vices?" The result promises to be a playful and timely insight. At a time of pressing global concerns, the BBC is asking Britain to take one day to look out of the window and shed light on the immediate realities of daily life. What’s more, collaboration between four different specialist parties means that the result is far more than multiplatform, it is multipurpose and many layered. Selected footage will be broadcast in Spring 2012, but an archive of all contributions will be kept, ensuring that this programme will have life long after the broadcast. 

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