On Friday, October 7, Daniel Moshel, director of the new virtual world documentary "Login 2 Life" spoke at the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life . A full transcript will be posted soon. But I wanted to share with everyone the main comments from Daniel Moshel, which I found very interesting:
Daniel Moshel: Everything started when the MMO World of Warcraft was released and I subscribed. Immediately. I was overwhelmed by the vast territory and the huge range of possibilities to play the game with others. In the 1st year, I spent 30 whole days online.
In this time I watched lots of the machinima work on YouTube, and I was very impressed by the variety and creativity of these flicks. You could find music videos, spoofs on TV shows, short films and ads made with game engines. The only thing missing was a documentary. This fact and the question "Who is the human behind the avatar's appearance?" formed the basic idea.
The second major point was that I missed in general a documentary about people engaging in synthetic worlds which showed the positive effects such worlds may bear within. Intense research led to Second Life and that opened up a wide horizon to me what is possible to reach engaging in 3d enhanced pixel worlds. After the idea was shaped to a concept and script, the team grew, we found our characters and we fought 5 long years to make this small documentary possible.
Rik: It must have been very difficult to make this complicated kind of documentary. What were some of the main hurdles you faced?
Daniel Moshel: First of all our whole team did NOT consist of big player film biz names. For the decision makers, we were rookies with a good idea and this is often is not enough to receive funding. we can be lucky that this film got made AT ALL!!!!!
Secondly the idea was born when the major Second Life hype was fully in process. They said, "When the film will be done, the SL or WoW hype will be over. Then nobody will be interested in your film anymore." They couldn't understand that it was not about SL or WOW but about a new communication form which still is not a hype in the majority of 1st world society.
It took me 5 years from the idea till the finished film. The odyssey started with the development funding. It took us 2 years to get the means to kick start the film. After that, we were able to find all the characters and develop the script.
After development was done, we were rejected concerning theatrical release. We had to reorient, and found out that there was an online proposal set up by a major German TV network dealing with the subject "Login2Life" was about. We entered the proposal and after 4 months of fighting for pole position we were selected to receive funding, which made all other funders follow (the so called avalanche effect).
Looking back I think the biggest problem was that we were young filmmakers trying to make a documentary about a very young phenomenon.-) :) but that's useful sometimes to just jump in.
Rik: So you mentioned your motivation for making the film. What are the main benefits virtual worlds and MMOs bring to peoples lives?
Daniel Moshel: It's funny that you are asking a rookie. While shooting the documentary, I realized that all seven 'Login2Life' characters have one thing in common: On long term you need to be sociable to sustain in these worlds and it's interesting that the majority of society assumes the opposite in judging people who are active in online worlds.
Accountable for this is the fact that 95 percent of the media coverage focuses on portraying the dangers of this phenomenon which for sure exist but they are not all-embracing. People are adaptive and learn to deal with th dangers without becoming a victim of the new communication and entertaining platforms. If the mainstream view would change for the better involved people in general could talk more openly about their online activities without having to justify themselves.
Secondly people contributing to other people always gain more social awareness. Maybe the level of awareness will one day be the same so that it doesn't matter if inworld or in real life, because both are actually the same ...at least I think so.
Rik: Yes, that is our experience here as well. That the "virtual" is just as real as physical experiences. and there is not giant wall between the two.
Rik: Who do you see as the people who gain the most from being in virtual worlds and MMOs?
Daniel Moshel: I think the main benefit is that we now have communication devices which allow us to participate also when we become old and less mobile. That's it.
Rik: Anything else you wanted people to know about the film before we open it up for questions?
Daniel Moshel: I hope you'll enjoy the film when you'll see it.
"Login 2 Life" premieres in Germany on October 17, and then streams for free online for a week starting that day. We will share the direct URL for the video stream once we know it.