Friday, October 4, 2013
League Of S.T.EA.M.-Q+A with Nick Baumann and Trip Hope
About the League of S.T.E.A.M.
The League of S.T.E.A.M. is a talented group of artists, performers, and inventors who take their audience back to a time of intrepid adventures, bridging the gap between the supernatural and the scientific; they are monster hunters from the Victorian era. The group is best known for their award-winning web series The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M., which chronicles the group’s comedic monster-hunting misadventures. The League of S.T.E.A.M. specializes in interactive entertainment, performing with a fusion of fantastic technology, interactive demonstrations, and theatrical trickery, and their live events showcase a mesmerizing array of fully functional gadgets and props meticulously designed to enchant and entertain audiences of all ages. Their mission is to create unforgettable entertainment, telling their stories through a unique mix of interactive live shows, a popular web series, audio podcasts, and interactive fan club, and more.
Official Web Site: www.leagueofsteam.com
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/LeagueOfSTEAM
SteamGeeks Podcast: http://www.steamgeekspodcast.com/
Why was the “League of S.T.E.A.M.” created?
Nick: The League was created as a way to focus the creative energy many of us had stored up and needed a project to focus our talents on. The four original creators started a loose idea of the League 4-5 years ago as a costume group for a large Masquerade party. From there we got asked to come other parties and eventually started getting hired to entertain crowds at various events. Other friends from various parts of my life then joined and we grew from there and began to focus our ideas in actual shows and then the web series!
Trip: The League of S.T.E.A.M. has always been a passion project. It was created by artists who wanted to create awesome costumes for an amazing masquerade ball in Hollywood called The Labyrinth of Jareth. Our founders, Nick Baumann, Robin Blackburn, and James Lavrakas, along with others – had the idea to attend this big event as steampunk ghostbusters. The men went with ghosts hunting packs fashioned in a steampunk homage to The Ghostbusters proton packs and the ladies of the group went in historically accurate Rococo & Victorian style glowing etherial ball gowns. The spectacle was a huge hit at Labyrinth and The League of S.T.E.A.M. was born. We started getting requests to dress up for events. Many of us are in the entertainment industry, so expanding into a web series and an entertainment troupe that does live shows was an organic process for us.
What is the casting process like?
Nick: We have so many options to explore and stories to tell with our current 11 characters that the League itself is not adding characters at this time. However for our web series, either we write certain parts for friends and actors we know would be great for the part or we find actor friends that we think will fit a part well.
Trip: The casting process for The League of S.T.E.A.M. itself was a group of creative friends and artists joining together. We feel very fortunate that within our group we’ve got professional prop fabricators, costumers, leather workers, craftsmen, sculptors and filmmakers. We were truly blessed in how we just came together with a shared love for steampunk and outrageously fun projects.
As far as casting for the web series goes, any cast member outside of The League are usually friends, acquaintances, or people within the steampunk and geek-centric community. We were very fortunate to have connections with Doug Jones (Hellboy, Falling Skies), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), Robin Thorsen (The Guild) and Lisa Foiles (All That), all of whom guest starred in Season 2. We also had an open casting call for many cameo roles – we sent this out to the steampunk community and our friends and fans. More than 75 of them can be seen in our episodes.
What was it like working with Panic At The Disco?
Nick: Pretty cool! They are a great group of guys, super friendly and very talented. The production crew they work with is top-notch and very professional and run a great efficient set.
Trip: An absolute pleasure!
What is the key to a successful Kickstarter campaign?
Trip: Getting friends, family, and community involved. Generally your Kickstarter campaign is only going to be as successful as the community you can reach out to – unless you’re incredibly fortunate enough to have a product that has instant mass appeal. We’ve tried to enlist all our fans and the steampunk community. We’ve encouraged them to share on social media and to donate. We’ve asked all our steampunk artist & musician friends to donate awesome rewards. And rewards are important. You want to make your backers feel like not only are they contributing to a cool project, but they are going to get something tangible that they will enjoy. I also think it’s cool to offer your backers exclusive behind-the-scenes content that no one else will get to see…and that’s what we’re offering. Even if someone only donates $1, they’ll get to see what we’re up to as we create Season 3.
How is season 3 going to be different?
Trip: Season 3 will have new adventures, new story lines, it will introduce new characters and monsters, there will be cool new gadgets and costumes, new locations – we hope to really raise the bar across the board!
How do the live shows differ from the web series and podcasts?
Nick: Podcast is very casual just us as the real people and artist chatting. The web series is the stories of the characters on their adventures and within their world. Live shows give the audience a chance to interact with the League and learn up close and personal about the gadgets and gear - see, touch and feel them work! We have various live shows we can do, some are stage shows the audience can watch and come on stage and join in but my favorite is when we are down in and interacting with the audience in our walk around bits. We can wander the crowd and get into all sorts of shenanigans!
Trip: Live shows bring the audience into our world! They get to interact with our monster hunting gadgets, our cast, and sometimes even the monsters! We bring people up on stage to act out their favorite monsters and they can experience getting caught with our net gun. We shock willing ‘victims’ with our shock prod, which is powered by baby electric eels. We do fun and exciting skits – such as a Tesla vs. Edison boxing match – to determine who is the king of electricity.
What’s been the most interesting fan interaction?
Nick: Well…one of my favorite was last year at the World Steam Expo. A man and his family visited for the first time to any Steampunk event - they had not even dressed up yet…to be honest, it was Dad's birthday and I think the family liked Steampunk but mostly all went along to the Expo for the Dad. In any case, he was super excited to run into me in the vendor hall and proceeded to shout out, loudly, all weekend, every time he saw us, “How excited am I!”, “It's the League of STEAM!”…it was very cute, something you might expect from a child, he was filled with that child like wonder and delight, it was very genuine! That night at a big dance party we hoisted him up in the air in a chair and sung and danced with him for his birthday…that was memorable.
Trip: We’ve had a lot & I think the coolest interactions have been when we meet our fans and they become our friends at conventions. However, we did recently have a fun experience with a fan at Dragon Con who we brought up on stage to act out his favorite monster. He was dressed up as The Joker and began preaching like an corrupt televangelist – he had the entire audience in an uproar of laughter & we netted him and had to drag him off stage. He was quite hilarious!
Describe each League member in one word?
Nick Baumann – (Crackitus Potts) – Madcap-Genius
Robin Blackburn – (Lady Ameliorette Potts) – Empathic
Sheyne Fleisher – (Ellie Copperbottom) – Social-Butterfly
Glenn Freund – (Coyote) – Jack-of-all-Trades
Andrew Fogel – (Baron von Fogel) – Master-of-Details
Trip Hope – (Albert Able, Esq./Executive Producer) – Friendly-Workaholic
Russell Isler – (Thaddeus / Zed, The Zombie Butler) – Brewmaster
Duane Matthews – (Jasper Mooney) – Wise-Wordsmith
Katherine Walsh – (Katherine Blackmore) – Crafty
Conrad Wright Jr – (Sir Conrad Wright III) – Lovable-Goof-ball
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Trip: We LOVE you for donating to our cause & we’re grateful to you for being an Associate Producer!
A Message from The League of S.T.E.A.M. -
Our Kickstarter project is OVER! Thanks to your generous contributions of fans, friends, and family - we raised $30,842 - 123% of our goal, and enough to let us bring you more of our monster hunting adventures, including a musical episode AND a rock monster!
To everyone who donated, shared the link, or offered us encouragement - THANK YOU! We couldn't do this without your help, and we're eternally grateful for your support.
You can check out the kickstarter project for Season 3 here:
Thanks so much for doing the interview Nick and Trip. I look forward to season 3. I hope the league comes to Boston at some point. I'd LOVE to see a live show.