One Day on Earth is a non-profit organization founded by filmmaker Kyle Ruddick in 2008. With Brandon Litman as Executive Producer, the team partnered with Vimeo, the United Nations and 60 non-profits to make what they call “a global video map.”

Photo by Phil Moore/One Day on Earth

On October 10, 2010 (10/10/10), the thousands of filmmakers they’d tapped in countries around the globe all shot stories that show the diversity of “one day on earth.”  Participants ranged from professional cinematographers to enthused citizens, who used a range of cameras (1,000 of them used DSLRs). The resulting free geo-tagged archive has over 2,500 hours of footage that is searchable by topic, location, keyword and popularity, the archive is free to use and is accessible for the public to navigate, allowing interaction with participant filmmakers via its social networking platform powered by Ning. Contributors to the archive have access to download all One Day on Earth footage for non-commercial use (with credit).

The duo plan a feature documentary slated for Fall 2011, and are planning the second worldwide participatory media event on Nov. 11, 2011 (11/11/11). Studio Daily sat down with Brandon Litman.

Photo by Petro Zadorozhnyy/One Day on Earth

How did you come up with the idea of One Day on Earth?

My partner Kyle came up with the idea when he went to a concert of all these bands playing on the same stage,  and saw this uncomfortable disharmony turn into beautiful harmony. Kyle is a filmmaker and thought this could be accomplished in film. He started reaching out to international filmmakers on Vimeo, asking them if they wanted to collaborate and he developed an impressive list of names from around the world. Being his friend, it was impressive to watch this develop. I saw how much interest was out there for this, so we decided to launch the website, and then brought on Vimeo and the United Nations and developed our own online community via Ning, which has been unbelievably supportive. And it blossomed from there. Our community is 15,400 filmmakers. I’m not sure how many contributed because there was quite a bit of collaboaration. We allowed people to edit their content. People poured their hearts into this project, and we wanted them to be able to represent their vision.

Photo by Mdoni and Vulamehlo/One Day on Earth

How did you create the relationship with Vimeo and the UN? Did they fund it?

In Feb. 2010, a friend of mine worked for ECOSOC (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and suggested to send a pitch in, which she would forward. The project got passed around for a few weeks and next thing you know, we are sitting in a conference room next to the Under-Secretary-General Akasaka. Kyle, Cari Ann Shim Sham (our educational advisor) and I were pitching to at least 30 communication directors in a very crowded conference room. I must have made 50 to 60 subsequent trips to the UN, meeting with agencies and departments.

We eventually met Stephane Dujarric and Boaz Paldi from UNDP, who agreed that a media and film collaboration like One Day on Earth could create positive social change. They really took a leap of faith and pushed for a formal partnership. It actually came down to the wire; part of the arrangement was UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) helped us distribute palettes of cameras to the developing world. Because of the lead time needed, we actually had to order them before the agreement was approved in late August. But UNDP really came through big. We eventually connected with 100 country offices in every corner of the globe. Even the head of UNDP, Helen Clark (former Prime Minister of New Zealand) participated on 10/10/10. The Department of Public Information, OCHA, UNTV, and programs such as the UN Academic Impact all participated. We are still working closely with the UN and have a strong focus on the Millennium Development Goals in the archive.

Vimeo has the best, most talented content creators on the Internet. They not only provided the hosting for the video but also promoted it within their community as an opportunity to collaborate. We had a huge showing from the Vimeo commnunity and filmmakers from around the world.

We broke our piggy banks to make this happen. The U.N. provided logistic support but we self-funded.  We’ve committed quite a bit of energy so far. A lot of the heavy lifting for funding is still ahead of us.  There are a lot of initiatives we’re hoping to embrace. We didn’t just create a film but an online community, so when you talk about a “film budget,” it’s a tough number to wrap your head around.

How did you find your filmmakers around the world? All through Vimeo? Did you give the filmmakers parameters for shooting?

We used a lot of different kinds of social media, even phoning organizations in remote areas of the world. It was important for us to have participation from every country in the world. Vimeo brought in the filmmaking community, and we used 60 non-profit partners to reach into their communities. The most remote spots were Antarctica and outer space; we got some footage from NASA.  Naru is also pretty far out there.

The success of the project is in part credited to the fact that we left it open for filmmakers. We stressed it was an opportunity to collaborate and share something important to them or their community and to educate the world on their perspective. Leaving it open but communicating the importance of the event produced the best work possible. I think our community took ownership of this.  People developed emotional equity in the project.

How did you curate this? Or did everything shot go into the archive?

We got great diversity and it’s all in the archive. I don’t recall anything inappropriate. Some of the highlights we point out to people are scenes of Mecca, the pyramids of Giza, the Galapagos Islands and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, an elephant safari in Botswana, scuba diving in the Red Sea and wildlife footage from every continent taken in support of partner organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). There’s also a video that’s a touching look at the 10th birthday celebration of a Dutch boy with a rare genetic disease, whose life expectancy was 10 years. And we’ve got footage of the 65th anniversary of the North Korean Workers party, a grand military parade in Pyongyang that marked the debut of heir apparent Kim Jong-un.

What happens next?

We are creating a feature film out of this footage. Part of the process was to develop the technology to handle this massive amount of video footage. We also have this wonderful online community in which they’re all active, talking.  We’ve already announced we’ll be doing this on 11/11/11, and that will be a great opp for the online community to come together. We want to create this event every year. One Day on Earth aims to be not just a single day event, but also a vehicle to spread awareness, empathy and change.