GAME ART: JONA KLEINLEIN'S HIDDEN CONFLICTS (2019)
Jona Kleinlein, Hidden Conflicts, machinima, 23' 05", 2019
Jona Kleinlein is a multi-media artist working with film, video and installation living and working in Norway. He is interested in exploring the increasingly porous boundaries between filmmaking, video games, and simulation. Hidden Conflicts is Jona's new short, created as a final project for his B.A. in Moving Images at Nordland College of Art and Film in Norway. Jona calls it a hybrid documentary, a game video essay that uses Arma 3 to document the MilSim scene (i.e., an activity that strives to realistically simulate the experience of armed conflict, often taking place in video games, and enacted by civilians). In a private email, Jona explains that he selected Arma 3 to shoot his documentary because of its incredible modding community, which makes filming extremely flexible. "It was important to me that my in-game character would be a real cameraman using a 'real' camera - says Jona - so if I would film somebody within the game environment, they would know. That worked like magic. There were several awesome mod creators that have created incredibly sophisticated camera models." Jona was invited to discuss his project to a roleplaying group via discord : "I pitched my idea to the whole group and they were as excited as I was, given the roleplay potential having a press officer onboard. I personally tried to roleplay some sort of cameraman character as well." The entire process - from shooting to post-production - took approximately six months. "All the interviews are made ingame, recorded with screen capture software and Discord. The conversations of the other players are mostly in-game and in so called 'debriefs' of the players." Jona says that the conflation of reality and simulation was a truly powerful experience. Before creating Hidden Conflicts, Jona spent several months inside The Witcher 3 to learn about filming in three dimensional worlds. "Machinima has really opened my eyes and now I see video games in a completely different light. There is so much untapped potential, loopholes, and stories to be found that the creators of the videogame never intended. Video games perfectly captured the zeitgeist" Jona adds. "Filming inside a video game can quickly become a political matter and I like that. I find hard to communicate that aspect to people that are unfamiliar with video games: their understanding of the medium is really basic, and thus they won't understand what I tried to achieve with Hidden Conflicts." The film has not been released yet, but Jona is submitting it to various festivals around the world and it truly deserves to be seen.