Second Life Gets Its Virtual Auteur: Douglas Gayeton and Molotov Alva

Second Life now has is own film auteur.

He is Douglas Gayeton; and his movie, debuting tonight May 15 as a half hour on Cinemax Reel Life, is Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator" --a unique and ground-breaking kind of documentary about Second Life, from HBO Documentary Films, constructed entirely as a sequence of dispatches from the online virtual world it's portraying.

Is this "Second Life odyssey," about a man who shucks his old bricks and mortar life to reinvent himself in the realm beyond the computer screen, the first glimpse of the future of moviemaking? Well, maybe that's a stretch, although it has been called "Filmmaking 2.0." And Douglas, with whom I've had the adventure of working with several times and who's become a great friend, is exactly the kind of visionary hybrid multi-talent suited for the cross-platforming future of entertainment media. He directed and with author William Gibson co-wrote the interactive filmic CD-Rom version of Johnny Mnemonic in the mid- 90's, a much more successful venture than the big screen stinker of the same story directed by Robert Longo.

And by way of the new paradigm of things, big effects grew from modest means. Douglas essentially made Molotov Alva in his bedroom, including sound design and voice over. So how was he able to actually shoot inside Second Life? He had 19 approaches to the issue running around in his head, he tells me. Then a friend said: Do It Simple. So Douglas simply pointed his camera at his computer screen and shot his Second Life film that way--recording it as it was taking place. The results are magical.

Cinemax will show the doc for free on its website May 16 and 17, including bonus dispatches.

And on another talent front, look for Douglas' marvelous image-and-text photographs of Italian ways and places to be featured at upcoming Slow Food Nation in San Francisco over Labor Day.