Grassroots Documentary Project 'One Day on Earth' Makes its Way to Knoxville

On Oct. 10, 2010, thousands of people from every country on Earth picked up their video cameras and participated in what organizers hope to be a continuing event in global culture. That footage has now been compiled into the feature film One Day on Earth, which is screening in locations all over the world on Sunday, April 22. (That's Earth Day.) Natalie Cisneros and Knoxville native Robert Brown, both involved with the project since its inception, will offer a Q&A following an upcoming Knoxville screening. Cisneros answered some questions about the project during a recent interview. (At press time this screening, organized through Tugg.com, which programs events based on a quota of pre-sold tickets, had yet to be confirmed; visit tugg.com/events/457 or onedayonearth.org for updates.)

How did you get involved with the One Day on Earth project?

Initially we got involved to help out a good friend. [Founder/director] Kyle Ruddick asked us if we wanted to get involved somehow, and after hearing the idea, there was no doubt that we were 100 percent behind him and the project. So in 2008 Robert began helping to develop the Web presence for One Day on Earth, eventually developing what we see today: the branded online community, the interactive video map, the user-interface for uploading footage, etc. I aided in researching various avenues for funding as well as being an overall extra set of hands for web updates, outreach, and promotions. Everything that Robert and I did was mainly geared toward helping this collective day of filming be successful.

YouTube and Ridley Scott undertook a similar project, Life in a Day, with slicker, more corporate overtones. What would you characterize as the key differences between the two films?

Life in a Day captures some wonderful snapshots and moments. We had fun watching it. Some of the One Day on Earth community even participated in it. But One Day on Earth sets out to capture the joys and struggles we face as humanity and doesn't shy away from challenging topics, since the project is also a grassroots community, partnered with over 60 non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations. This is how One Day on Earth managed to film in every country in the world whereas Life in a Day could not.

One Day On Earth is being brought to Knoxville through the new "theatrical on-demand" service Tugg. Is this the film's primary mode of distribution?

This has been a community-based, community-made project from the beginning, and the distribution model has been guided by the same principle. That's what we love about Tugg—people can use their voices to get the films they want to see in their local theaters. But in other cities, individuals who have been a part of our network are making it their mission to secure screening space and promote the film on their own. Outside the U.S., screenings have been set up in community centers, world heritage sites, universities, and public spaces. We are in over 160 countries, and after this event the project's founders hope to take the film on an international roadshow.

What scene/country/individual within the final film had the biggest effect on you personally?

The film has so many amazing individual stories that it's really hard to just pick one. For me, the film in its entirety has the effect that you realize, at the end of the movie, these are all people that have shared something about their lives, what they've seen, felt, heard, and experienced. This is truly a story about being human, a story about us, told by us. I feel lucky to have had the chance to participate and have a snippet of what I saw that day be included in the film.

Oct. 11, 2011—11/11/11—was the second annual One Day on Earth shooting event. How would you like to see the phenomenon grow? And what happens to the fancy numbering scheme once 2013 rolls around?

We think that by 2013, One Day on Earth may have a more set date, but for now it's just about growing the movement to give as many creative possibilities for future projects. The founders are also looking into all sorts of ways to engage the community of filmmakers to take a deeper role in editorial as well. We believe that this project has helped establish a new genre or mode of production and in our mind it can only grow to become a more powerful and enriching creative project, in which films are being produced by asking their audience to participate in their creation.

One Day on Earth • Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 (Turkey Creek) • Sunday, April 22 • 1 p.m. • $9 • onedayonearth.org