What a crowdsourced feature film can teach destinations about user-generated content

10 October 2016 was an ordinary day in India. Until now. 

The day, free from religious ceremonies, political upheaval or dramatic weather events, has now been immortalised in the feature film documentary India In A Day, chronicling 24 hours in the country.

The blurb reads:

India in a Day is a new form of non-fiction filmmaking that uses footage shot by millions of people in India on one single day to assemble a lyrical portrait of modern India.

What is unique about the movie is that all the footage was filmed by ordinary Indians, on their smartphones. The movie, released this month, is the world’s largest crowdsourced film project. 

It is also different in its distribution. rather than partner with a major movie studio with cinema distribution, the film’s distributor is Google India. The search engine helped to crowdsource the contributors, too.

Over 16,000 individual clips, ranging from two-seconds to over an hour, were submitted and sifted through by a production team of 15. Toronto-based filmmaker Richie Mehta (Amal, 2007 and Siddharth, 2013) did have the heavyweight backing of Ridley Scott, who had pioneered the crowdsourced film concept in 2010 with a global effort, World-in-a-day.

But in the six years between the films (there have been versions made in Japan, the UK and elsewhere), the quantity of clips has risen tenfold. Mehta and his team had over 350 hours of raw footage to chose form to assemble the 86-minute final feature. 

The difference is the emergence of smartphones. Almost two billion people around the world have a high-definition camera with them at all times. 

The power of this crowdsourcing potential is enormous for destination marketing. Some 74% of destination Google searches result in no video content. Although national tourism boards and larger subnational tourism boards have highly developed and well-funded video campaigns, smaller destinations struggle. 

This is where, we hope, Ciné Souk comes in. We’ve created travel-specific video blog series for amateur filmmakers to shoot, making it easier to follow the brief. We couple this with a simple commissioning structure that makes it easier for destinations to source video bloggers. 

As Indian In A Day proves, great things can come from the collective efforts of everyone. Tourism can harness the power of the one billion global travellers by asking them to film as they go.