July 24, 2010 was a regular summer day for Emmy Pickett ’12 in her hometown of San Diego, California — except that this time, she captured herself on camera.
Exactly one year later, on July 24, 2011, footage from Pickett’s day will appear in a new film in theaters across the United States. Called “Life in a Day,” the movie intertwines snippets of people’s lives on that one July day that individuals from around the globe recorded and submitted to YouTube.
Described as a “historic cinematic experiment” on its website, the 90-minute film is produced by Ridley Scott — known for movies such as “Gladiator” and “American Gangster” — and directed by Kevin Macdonald of “The Last King of Scotland.” Thousands of users uploaded over 4,500 hours of video to participate in the project, and those whose footage was selected, like Pickett, became “co-producers” of the film, Pickett said.
Besides capturing snippets of their daily experience, participants were also asked to film their answers to questions such as “what’s in your pocket?” and “what do you fear?,” Pickett said.
The “Life in a Day” trailer shows a diverse mix of characters from both familiar and exotic locales, even some underwater or in the air. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will be officially released in theaters on July 24.
During her day, Pickett said she started out on top of the Cabrillo National Monument in California, overlooking the ocean, and later ended up watching fireworks from a pier. “Life in a Day” includes a shot of her walking by an abandoned movie theater, and running her fingers along the glass to see how dirty it is and how long the place has been empty, she said.
Pickett recruited a friend of hers who does photography to film her, she said. After submitting about an hour of footage to the project in total, she eventually learned that her clips would be included in the Sundance premiere.
“The whole project is about bringing new voices to the cinematic experience,” she said. Since all the footage was shot by individuals themselves, she added, “It’s really freeing people up to be artists in their everyday lives.”
An Environmental Studies major who came to Yale hoping to become a doctor, Pickett said she made “a 360˚ shift from medicine to film” her sophomore year. She said her experience working on “Life in a Day” has served to fuel her ambitions as a filmmaker.
“What I really loved from this is that Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald are taking people’s lives as they are and editing them to show how people are interlinked or different across the world,” she said. “Ever since that, I’ve ended up getting my own very nice HD camera. I try to film as much of what I’m experiencing as possible.”
Pickett has also recently finished a short film, “The Do Gooder,” which she produced with her boyfriend Jimi Patterson, she said. The 15-minute movie will be screened at the Yale School of Art on April 25 at 7 p.m.
Watch the trailer for “Life in a Day” below. Pickett appears about 1 minute in: