It's not HBO, it's Second Life
It’s probably bad to admit in my first real post that I don’t play Second Life. I think I get it though. I once was addicted to The Sims – and you can see what kind of relationship we’re going to have here when I’m admitting right off the bat that I was addicted to that game because it’s pretty much totally inane. I remember spending a whole Sunday inside – and I lived in LA at the time and it was 85 degrees and sunny outside – watching those silly Sims characters come and go and use the toilet and take showers and fall very briefly in love and have babies and then have social services come take those babies away because I as the game player was really unable to manage their care.
Anyway, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, Second Life is this crazy 3-D virtual world where many people have literally set up second lives, ones I suspect might be much more satisfying than the ones they are living in the real world. People spend real money setting up store fronts, movie theatres, and so forth. They also meet, greet, mate and all that sort of thing without ever having to leave their desk.
Strangely enough, Second Life often merges with the real world. In such a case, HBO yesterday said it had purchased a documentary called “My Second Life: The Video Diaries of Molotov Alva” – reportedly paying a six-figure sum — that was shot entirely within the virtual world of Second Life. If I really think about that, I don’t know what it means. How does a virtual director take a virtual camera into a virtual world and end up with a real movie that HBO can buy and air? It’s an art form known as “machinima,” usually applied to taking scenes from video games and turning them into crude movies.
The genius behind this project is Douglas Gayeton, who wrote and directed Johnny Mnemonic, the first interactive CD-ROM based movie for Sony Imagesoft. He also created a digital animated series called Delta State that was named best animated TV series of the year at the 2004 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Finally, he’s the chief creative officer of Millions of Us, located at www.millionsofus.com.
You can check out the first of seven episodes at http://molotovalva.com (at least for now). HBO loves it so much Gayeton tells the blog New World Notes – which broke this story – that the network plans to submit it for Oscar contention as well as premiere it at Sundance before airing it in 2008.
The movie is pretty trippy – like a look into the next age of film-making. I’m not sure the part of me that still loves living in the real world is ready for it.