When SFU Public Square first approached me to create a video on BC’s economy for the SFU Public Square 2013 Community Summit, Charting BC’s Economic Future, I asked myself how I was going to find images to reflect the current state of BC’s economy. How was I going to represent the increasing gap in income inequality, changes in our resident’s demographics, and the shifts taking place in how people earn an income in BC, without resorting to cliché stereotypes? And most importantly, how was I going to make the project fun and interesting?
Over the past few years, with the rise in user-generated content on YouTube, increased affordability and ability for folks to record videos as simply as by using one’s phone, and a growing number of people who have a good grasp of what’s involved in making a video, a new documentary film movement is emerging known as “crowdsourcing.” The concept is simple: the film director calls for video submissions from the public on a given topic, receives these submissions online and then organizes and edits these submissions into a cohesive film that should offer something greater than the sum of its parts. Sound risky? It is, in that you never know just what you might get. However the extensive level of participation and intimacy of perspectives that can be acquired are certainly what adds to the potential “wow” factor.
Such is the case for Ridley Scott’s “Life in a Day” (2011), the first feature-length crowdsourced, user-generated content to successfully hit the big screen. A conglomeration of selections from 80,000 video contributions totaled 4,500 hours of footage, Scott’s callout invited participants to share a video of a day in their life on one specific date (July 24, 2010) and reached out to contributors all over the globe. Scott strove to “take the humble YouTube video…and elevate it into art”. A few other recent feature-length films are achieving similar success, including Scotland’s national video portrait “We Are Northern Lights” (Nick Higgins, 2012), “One Day on Earth” (2010) and Ridley Scott’s most recent “Springsteen & I” (2012). Crowdsourcing is also starting to make its way into shorter formats, such as the Dave Matthews Band’s “Mercy” music video (2012) and Oxfam International’s campaign video “In My Place” (2013).
When I first pitched “crowdsourcing” as a concept for the video on BC’s economy, it was the last of four concept ideas in my proposal. I marked it clearly as “risky” and, although it was the one I wanted to do the most, I was doubtful that the level of risk would be conducive to a university initiative. To my surprise and delight, the concept was chosen hands-down. It was clear that creating a video portrait of the province’s economy only made sense if done through the perspective of the very people driving it. Thus We Are BC was born.
We Are BC, a short film that will be edited together from select submitted video clips, will have its World Premier screening on October 3 at Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, BC as part of the SFU Public Square 2013 Community Summit. The event and the video premier will be live webcast. Even if a submission is not selected for the final film, all eligible video submissions we receive will be showcased on a We Are BC legacy website.
We are inviting BC residents to take out their smart phones, tablets, computers and cameras and record their own personal and candid 30-second video clips! We are asking BC’s residents to show us their hopes, fears and involvement in the BC economy. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm, Thursday, August 15, 2013.
Through this provincial home movie, I hope to showcase a diversity of perspectives, demographics and regions around the province and in a way that will not only avoid cliché stereotypes but present authentic, unique, surprising, and eye-opening stories – stories that can help us find ways to chart a future that is more prosperous, equitable and environmentally-friendly for all. These fresh perspectives will give BC’s economy a real human face in a way that simply cannot be matched by statistics and reports. And the unpredictability of a community-based collaboration paired with the beauty and quirkiness inherent to human life is sure to provide for a fun and interesting project!
One of the greatest assets to our province’s economy is the diversity of its people—from the traditional wisdom of the First Nations Peoples, to the unique skills and talents of recent immigrants and refugees, to the people who have worked the land for generations. No matter what you do, where you live, or how you make your living, your voice matters! Share your unique and invaluable stories and perspectives with us on camera! We Are BC!