On Wednesday, I produced the virtual premiere of three youth-written films in Second Life. Organized by Global Kids in conjunction with Scenarios USA, the virtual screening brought together around 50 teens and adults on both the Teen Grid and Main Grid of Second Life. The audiences got to watch three short films on the subject of "The Real Deal with Masculinity" written by teens in Texas, Cleveland and New York.
After the screening, Amina and Tiauna, two of the youth screenplay writers from NYC, answered questions from the audience, along with Rob York, managing producer at Scenarios. It was great seeing the teens talking (and typing ) about both the filmmaking process and their own feelings about masculinity in their own lives and communities.
The process of how these films are created is really fascinating. Every year, Scenarios USA holds an open competition for screenplay ideas for youth around the United States. Three winning submissions are chosen from three different regions of the United States, through a lengthy vetting and consultation process.
The winners are paired with accomplished directors who help them refine their ideas into a more workable script, which is then produced by Scenarios using professional actors, film crew, editors and producers. All three films this year were very entertaining and insightful examinations of how young people experience masculinity and male stereotypes and roles. They all kind of leave you hanging and wanting the stories to continue, which is the sign of a good film.
It was awesome being involved with this first virtual premiere of Scenarios USA's films.
As I've blogged in the past, I think Second Life is a great platform for film and video showings, adding an additional layer of communications and interaction on top of the movie-watching experience. True, you don't get the kind of resolution you get from a DVD or a real film screening. But for character and plot driven stories, the movie-watching experience can be just as rich and engaging as watching it on your TV or in a theater. And in some ways, even better.
That said, there are still issues with getting a wide range of audiences to virtual screenings in Second Life, due to the need for broadband internet access, a fast computer, and tech savviness that most people don't have. So I'm always on the lookout for other technologies that can enable some degree of interpersonal interaction and shared media in a virtual environment… with much lower barriers to entry.