Life in a Day, Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald’s upcoming crowdsourced filmmaking project, asks people from all corners of the world to record and submit their experiences on a single day. (Anyone can participate on July 25, 2020.) A radical embodiment of the creed “everyone is a filmmaker,” the venture will produce thousands and thousands of submissions in the hopes of forming a cohesive final feature… a daunting editorial challenge.

But it’s not the first time there has been such extreme collaboration in film. Below are some other entries in the genre of communal filmmaking, a pioneering and often messy experiment that is nevertheless stretching the boundaries of storytelling as we understand it.

Life in a Day (2011)

For starters, Scott and Macdonald have done this before. After calling for entries that documented life on Earth on July 24, 2010, the filmmakers received over 80,000 video submissions. The best and most moving entries defined the shape and theme of the final, poetic feature: that despite being remarkably eclectic, daily human experiences on Earth often have the same fears, disappointments, and joys in common. It’s been ten years, and it’s time for another installment -- and it seems likely the world will have a lot to say about 2020.

Where to watch: YouTube

Iron Sky (2012)

Even if Iron Sky wasn’t a piece of participatory cinema, it would raise eyebrows: director Timo Vuorensola calls it a “pretty dark science fiction comedy about Nazis that fled to the Moon in 1945.” But the movie is also a product of Vuorensola’s now defunct Wreck-a-Movie website, where the public could assist producers in various filmmaking tasks: pitching, writing, editing, etc. The film showed at the 62nd Berlinale before being released in European theaters.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

 Crowdsourced Cinema’s The Princess Bride (2015)

Since 2015, community arts center Northampton Open Media has recreated modern film classics through delegation: filmmaking teams are assigned specific scenes to reshoot, and a new feature is assembled from the resulting footage. For their 2016 edition, 48 teams and area musicians re-envisioned cult classicThe Princess Bride. It’s cinema for and by the people, and their 2020 Cast Away project is taking submissions through September.

Where to watch: YouTube

RiP!: A Remix Manifesto (2008)

Billed as “the world’s first open source documentary,” RiP!: A Remix Manifesto makes the case for a copyright-free world by showcasing the work of hundreds of remix artists, some of whom have been sued by corporations for their creative endeavors. It’s a debate with which not very many people are familiar, but one that those working in creative fields will find fascinating. In an admirably meta move, the director asked users to take this very documentary and remix it, and the 2.0 version later screened at film festivals.

Where to watch: Vimeo

#BossBitchFightChallenge (2020)

To some, this is just one of many viral social media challenges. But, more than usual, this challenge saw entries interested in sustaining continuity: the stunt clips were conceived of and shot as if they were one, uninterrupted fight sequence, despite being filmed on smartphones in homes all over the world. This feels like high-quality, collaborative entertainment, and it seems like the creative potential of participatory (and socially distanced) filmmaking is just getting started.

Where to watch: YouTube