The long awaited “first-ever” documentary shot entirely in Second Life (as claimed by HBO films which bought the rights to this film) started airing last night on Cinemax.

Cinemax Reel Life presents an unusual film that tells the story of a man who doesn’t really exist, at least not in the flesh-and-blood world: Molotov Alva, a virtual character that filmmaker Douglas Gayeton conceived to escape the real world. The first documentary shot entirely in a virtual online platform, Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey explores this new plane of interaction, and introduces us to its inhabitants. [Link—>]

This has been a long time coming, and to be honest, I can’t understand what took so long given the simplicity of the film and short duration of the episodes (5 minute dispatches).  It is also disappointing that in something that is more “art” than “entertainment” that Cinemax has taken the blended media approach of airing part of the series on TV, part on its website, and only a teaser in Second Life.  I attended the teaser last night which included the first two dispatches and a Q&A with the creator hosted on a newly unveiled Cinemax Island (created by Electric Sheep).

The premise of a virtual avatar fleeing the real world into Second Life and then searching for his creator is an interesting one and the narrating is incredibly well done.  In the first two episodes the avatar describes his attachment to his former self (memories, pictures, etc) that he brings with him in the virtual world, but then doesn’t understand why.  It also describes his struggle with the material preconceptions of living that he brings with him and then seeks to abandon.  Why does an avatar need a house in a virtual world where there is no rain?  Why do we re-create our first lives in Second Life complete with bathrooms for avatars that can’t use and them and kitchens for those that never eat.

The remainder of the dispatches detail his encounter with a Second Life homeless person who serves as his tour guide of all things Second Life and the ultimate quest for the creator (spoiler! – there is no creator, it was all created by many people constantly changing).

Unfortunately, I can’t watch the middle dispatches as I am not going to subscribe to Cinemax just to see 1/2 hour worth of content and Cinemax/HBO have really botched the delivery of this art by not allowing it to be shown in its entirety on the web or in Second Life itself.  I’d give this a 4.5 stars on the content itself and 1 star on the delivery vehicle which proves again that big media just doesn’t get it.