Wednesday, November 18, 2009

8 Billion Lives: 'Everyone Has a Story'

The concept behind 8 Billion Lives is simple:

"Everyone has a story. Watch a day in the life of people from all over the world."

Of the 16 videos posted so far on this recently launched video Website, most of the subjects seem to be either some form of activists or performing artists. And nearly all are Americans.

But the vision is to offer more eclectic and international fare.

To celebrate our diversity – we want to share stories of people from all walks of life, with the mission of fostering global citizenship.

To satisfy our curiosity – you can use our site as an educational tool to take a closer look at the daily habits, lifestyles, and dreams of others.

To recognize our interconnectedness – our world is becoming more global, but we don’t always understand how others live. We believe that video is a great tool to connect people who might not otherwise interact.
We were curious about both the editorial mechanics and the financial aspects of such an ambitious undertaking -- who commissions and selects the content, and who pays for all this video? So we emailed some questions to the founders, and received this response from Wing-Yee Wu:

What is your business model?

We are exploring a number of different models, including but not limited to licensing / sponsorship of certain content. Right now, we're focused on building a strong and growing library of high-quality content, and getting the word out about our site.

Do videojournalists get paid , or have to pay, for inclusion in 8BL?

For the first batch of films, the filmmakers were paid a small amount, mostly to cover costs. Contributors to the site will not have to pay. Going forward, we hope that filmmakers like the concept of the site and the ability to reach a wide audience with their work, and we don't anticipate monetary compensation being the driving force behind their participation.

Will there be advertising or sponsorship?

We are still discussing these as possibilities.

Are videos ever commissioned (based on a concept), or do you consider only finished videos?

We're happy to directly receive videos, finished or work-in-progress, or to receive suggestions for subjects. We do 'commission' in the sense that we receive pitches / ideas from people that we are happy to facilitate to the extent possible. For example, we received a suggestion that a chef would be an interesting subject, and helped to connect a filmmaker with Chef David Burke.

If a submission needs work, will you offer guidance, or edit it yourself?

We don't edit ourselves but definitively offer guidance. Our Head of Film is an experienced filmmaker herself and has worked with quite a few of the filmmakers as a sounding board or editing supervisor. Having said that, we try to be respectful of individual filmmakers' ideas, styles, and approaches as well as respectful to our subjects.

How are stories selected, and who ultimately decides what appears on the site?

For selecting subjects, often the filmmakers will be inspired by someone and select on their own. The film selection is run by our internal team.

Will you accept previously published video stories, or only originals?

We accept previously published films, subject to our judgment as to whether they fit in with our site. We do ask for exclusive online screening rights for a certain period of time.

As you add stories, how will they be organized on the site?

Currently, stories are organized in two ways. On the Our World tab, they are clustered geographically on a world map for viewers that want to browse by location. Second, there is a search function where people can search by keyword. As the library grows, we will come up with new ways of organizing the films based on the type of content that we receive. Any ideas are welcome -- we are excited to see how the site grows organically and will respond accordingly.


For those who want to contribute, here are the criteria:

Your film should…

* Be a documentary portraying a single individual, i.e. not a group
* Be between 4-7 min long
* Cover the subject’s morning, afternoon and evening (if you’d like, you can spread out the shooting over multiple days)
* Include at least 4 out of our 6 ‘Building Blocks’ :

Building Blocks:
We’d like to see the subject:

* Engaging in a recreational activity
* Engaging in a professional activity
* Eating or preparing a meal
* Engaging in a transaction of some kind
* Meaningfully interacting with another person
* Discussing long-term goals, dreams, etc…


8 Billion Lives

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