Check out my Q&A with the Steampunk Journal to hear more about my travels, future writing plans, and even more about the Collaborative Writing Challenge’s 7th Project!
Read it HERE
I got a chance to ask Al Fox, the creator of the International Steampunk Symposium and ThePandoraSociety.com, a few questions about the con and his background during this year’s Symposium.
PD: Which came first, your love of Steampunk or your knowledge of large-scale event planning?
AF: The love of Steampunk came first and then evolved from putting together small social gatherings to planning full-scale weekend conventions.
PD: What is your favorite thing about Steampunk in general, or your Steampunk event in particular?
AF: Without a doubt my favorite thing about Steampunk is the people. The Steampunk Community is amazingly creative and not afraid to spill their imaginations everywhere! With some other fandom conventions, attendees come in with the attitude of “show me what you’ve got,” whereas Steampunk attendees bring so much with them and approach the con with the attitude of “let me show you what I’ve got.” There is such a positive energy that is shared by most Steampunks.
PD: Tell us a little about your event and the inspiration behind it.
AF: The International Steampunk Symposium is an annual gathering of Steampunks from all over the country and some from other countries. Our signature event is probably the Symposium Games, which is basically a Steampunk Olympics involving various light-hearted sports and challenges such as Nerf Dueling, remote-control Dirigible Races, and the ever so dangerous Umbrella Fencing. The whole convention is very participatory and inclusive of the attendees; the Symposium ranks highly on being a most socially engaging experience. As with Pandoracon, our sci-fi & fantasy convention, the inspiration for the Symposium is “verb;” we want to fill the weekend with so many things to do . . . our most consistent criticism is that there’s too much to do!
PD: Where did the Symposium Games comes from?
AF: The Symposium Games were at the core of the show’s planning from the very beginning. Inspired by the Olympics, I had the vision of different Airships and Steampunk groups from various cities coming together to compete in Victorian style games, but with a whimsical twist. One of the key games is the RC Dirigible Races; the Symposium was the first to start this sport and now our rules are being used at other conventions around the world. While we may have started a couple of Steampunk sports, we are more than happy to host contests that were started elsewhere, such as Tea Dueling and Teapot Racing.
PD: What was your biggest mistake, er, “growth experience” when you first started holding The International Steampunk Symposium?
AF: The Symposium has been blessed with good luck, despite several attempts to tempt fate and disaster. The biggest mistake was actually during the first year in 2012 and the Umbrella Fencing event’s lack of safety steps. The concept of the special event was supposed to be a light-hearted folly, but several of the combatants were out to win and left mercy at the door. Pretty much as soon as the bouts began we realized how much of a bad idea this was, and swore that we would never have this event again, but then for the 2015 Symposium we actually brought it back, partly due to popular demand, but this time we brought the armor with it.
PD: You also run The Pandora Society website, would you tell us a little about that? Are you taking submissions?
AF: The Pandora Society runs in collaboration with the International Steampunk Symposium and also Pandoracon, but has also become its own entity by providing fandom communities with consistent and fresh daily content. Most of the site’s articles are focused on various forms of retro-futurism, but we do also publish articles on pop culture, science, history, and most things nerdy. We are always on the lookout for new writers to add to our spectrum of geeky voices; if interested, writers should visit http://thepandorasociety.com/call–for–pandora–writers/
Thanks so much to Al Fox for taking the time to answer my questions!
Check out this Behind The Scenes Peek into Yamasong: March of the Hollows and my Interview with Producer Mallory O’Meara
You may remember that a while back I posted the trailer to an upcoming epic film that features a clockwork army called Yamasong: March of the Hollows. As a result, I was contacted by the folks behind this incredibly ambitious, full-length movie featuring puppetry and fabulous voice talent, so I would know about the new video they put out. It’s a nice little taste of what is to come, and what it takes to make this adventure come to life.
I also had the opportunity to interview one of Yamasong’s producers, Mallory O’Meara. Read our conversation after the video for more behind the scenes info.
If you had to choose just three words to describe your experience working on this film, what would they be?
Invigorating, exciting, challenging
What is Yamasong about?
The heart of Yamasong is about overcoming an oppressive force and the importance of preserving free will, at any cost. The heroes of Yamasong bypass tradition and differences to save their world and through them, the audience deeply explores empathy and intention.
Why puppets rather than CG or live actors?
Yamasong was always going to be a puppet film. Sam Koji Hale is so passionate about storytelling in this medium and Dark Dunes Productions is dedicated to celebrating practical special effects, so it was a great fit.
What was it like trying to recruit to voice talent for something so different? Was it hard to get people to understand the vision, or were they eager to be a part of it?
Recruiting voice talent for Yamasong was sometimes a challenge because it is such a unique and trail blazing project. It doesn’t fit neatly into any film category. But as we went forward, we found actors that were excited about puppetry and wanted to be involved, like Whoopi Goldberg and Nathan Fillion.
From the beginning of fabrication to the final splice in the editing room, how long does a project like this take? Is it hard to keep up enthusiasm over a long production period?
Every project is different, but the entire process to create Yamasong will end up being a couple of years. Keeping up the stamina of enthusiasm can definitely be a challenge, but during those moments, I try to step back and marvel at the things that drew me to the project in the first place – the originality and magic of the world of Yamasong.
Do you have a favorite character or setting in the film?
Geta the Ovis warrior is definitely a favorite character of mine. Her warrior’s journey is incredibly inspirational.
Have there been any surprises or challenges the cast and/or crew have overcome?
Yamasong: March of the Hollows is the first feature length puppet film made in America in over a decade, so Dark Dunes had to be innovative with the way it was created. Our crew needed to do a lot of creative problem solving to conquer the physical challenges of shooting puppets. Having most of your actors be a foot tall can be a blessing and a curse! We were surprised, but thrilled, by how much there was to learn.
Thanks so much to Mallory for answering my questions!
What do you think? Are you going to see Yamasong: March of the Hollows? Comment below why or why not!