Douglas Gayeton

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Douglas Gayeton presenting at Cusp Conference 2008, Chicago, IL

Douglas Gayeton (born August 14, 1960) is an award-winning American multimedia artist, filmmaker, writer, and photographer who divides his time between a farm near Petaluma, California and Pistoia, a medieval Tuscan town.

Along with his wife, Laura Howard, he directs the Lexicon of Sustainability project.

He is also the creator of Delta State and Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey as well as the author of Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town.


He received his BA in Literature and Writing from the University of California, San Diego in 1983, where he studied under dramatists Adele Edling Shank and Alan Schneider. Under the guidance of Reinhard Lettau he also founded the literary magazine Birdcage Review, which featured contributions from a mix of students and notable composers, writers and artists, including Ernst Krenek, Eleanor Antin, Robert Creeley, and David Hockney (who provided artwork for the Fall 1982 cover).

In 1983 Gayeton directed La Entrada, a full length documentary on the lives of Mexican migrant workers traveling to the US. The film later aired on KPBS. A transcript of interviews the filmmaker conducted with key immigration figures in the US and Mexico while making the film were cited by Congress and read into the Congressional Record during the drafting of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Gayeton abandoned his Masters at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1985 to start a production company called Brass Ball after receiving startup funding from Quincy Jones's Qwest Records (ironically, he later returned to the school as a Visiting Professor). Within a few years of starting Brass Ball Gayeton subsequently left the film business and moved to Italy.

A series of experimental films made with Italian music group Minox led to Gayeton signing with Satellite Films, a division of Propaganda Films in 1992. His making of a music video for the band Semisonic is comically detailed in So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star (ISBN 0-7679-1470-8) by Jacob Slichter.


In 2009, Gayeton released his first book, Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town, which tells the story of the Slow Food Movement in Tuscany through a combination of photographs he took and essays.[1] The intro to the book was written by chef Alice Waters and the preface, by the founder of the movement, Carlo Petrini.[1]


Gayeton's photographs merge his interests in narrative, film, and interactivity. The work is concerned with how time is treated in photography. He has said, "I've always seen photography as being about a single moment, whereas film is about orchestrating a sequence of moments (scenes) to create a larger narrative."[1] To achieve this effect Gayeton's works consist of up to a hundred photographs, often shot over the course of many hours. These are printed and composited to create a single image. Handwritten text is added later by the artist and placed over the image [2]. Gayeton has called his approach "flat films"[3].

In 2003 Gayeton was commissioned by PBS and POV to document Italy's Slow Food movement. He focused on the lives of people from the town of Pistoia, Italy. "PBS ultimately premiered "My Shoes are Caked with Mud" as part of "Borders", a web-based series. It was awarded a Webby for best broadband site of 2004.

In 2007 Time Magazine published Gayeton's photographs on biodynamic winemaking practices.

Slow Food Nation [4] unveiled a retrospective of Gayeton's photographic work in 2008.

Interactive Television[edit]

In 1993 Gayeton directed “Tomorrow”, the first documentary about interactive television. The film featured interviews with Bill Gates, John Malone, Barry Diller, Sumner Redstone, Geraldine Laybourne and others. Notable in the film was Gayeton's depiction of how interactive television would work. He showed how an antique stove repairman in Watts, California could become his own channel and sell his wares to anyone in the world via television. While seen as heretical at the time, Gayeton's vision was proven with the acceptance of the Internet a few years later.

Gayeton subsequently developed interactive projects for Viacom & AT&T, then went on to explore the subject of interactive television for MTV and U2's short-lived ZOO TV television series.

In 2002 Gayeton was hired by Scripps Networks Interactive to explore new forms of "enhanced television", namely programming that allows viewers to migrate from television to the Internet and back again. The result was "Lost In Italy", a 26 episode interstitial series for Fine Living [5] [6].

Interactive Movie[edit]

With William Gibson, Gayeton wrote and directed Johnny Mnemonic, the first interactive CD-ROM based movie, for Sony Imagesoft [7]. He then wrote and designed a CD-ROM sequel to George Orwell's 1984 with Media-X and designed an interactive version of Einstein's Dreams with writer Alan Lightman.

Social Networks and Online Communities[edit]

Gayeton ultimately left Propaganda Films in 1994 to start his own media consultancy, Gayetonstudio, where he created interactive projects for dozens of clients. Most notable are: "Plug In", precursor to the first teen channel on AOLwith Bart Decrem (1995); "Vanishing Point", first original content acquisition for MSN (1996); "Yahooligans", animated series for web and television for Yahoo and Fox (1996); "Plug in", first teen channel on AOL France (1997); "Zap!", first kids channel on AOL France (1997); "Very Small TV" and "Very Small City" (later renamed, online community for Vivendi (1999).

Gayeton also provided creative support to Electronic Arts, Viacom, Sega, Intel, and National Geographic. An in-depth survey of Gayeton's interactive work is featured in The Interactive Writers Handbook by Jon Hamsel (ISBN 978-1885452115).


From 1997 to 2000 Gayeton worked with Alphanim, a Paris-based animation company, where he developed a number of animated television series, the most notable being Delta State (TV series), a project based on his graphic novel of the same name. Purchased by Canal +, it received a Special Award for a TV series at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the Frames 2004 Award for best Asian Production. The 4th episode of his series Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator was included in the Animation Show of Shows.


The term machinima refers to a production process used for filming inside digital environments. In 2007 Gayeton created the first machinima documentary made in a virtual world: "Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey".

The American broadcast rights were purchased by HBO Documentary Films in August, 2007, marking the first time a US television network purchased a series which premiered on YouTube. The groundbreaking film has been profiled in two books, The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World (ISBN 978-0061353208) by Wagner James Au and I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life by Mark Stephen Meadows (ISBN 0321533399).

Virtual Worlds[edit]

Following Gayeton's experience making Molotov Alva he joined MTV to work on their virtual world projects. This was followed by a brief stint as Chief Creative Officer of Millions of Us LLC, where he developed content for a variety of social network and virtual world platforms including Gaia, Habbo Hotel, Scenecaster, Zwinktopia and most recently Sony’s PlayStation Home, the world’s first high definition virtual world


Selected music videos:

Other appearances in films:

  • "Seagull" [8] – writer (2004)
  • "Forever is a Long, Long Time" [9] – actor (2004)


  1. ^ a b "Life in the Slow Lane". November 3, 2009. 

External links[edit]