Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Film Review: Iron Sky

I re-watched this one to review it for you guys because this movie does what I thought was a really interesting thing. It's definitely got some heavy dieselpunk elements in the Space Nazi side of things, in a very over-the-top way. It's meant to be ridiculous though, and the movie doesn't take itself too seriously at all.

The thing I find interesting though is the way they handled the Nazis. It's always risky to use Nazis in a comedy, because the Holocaust is so very much a sacred cow, and you don't want to make jokes about that.

These Nazis left the earth before the holocaust, though. The premise is that Germany had a space program and sent colonists off to live on the dark side of the moon. These people are unaware of the Holocaust - only of German nationalism to a comical extreme. The irony of course is this.

That's right - the American president thinks "This is brilliant - this is how to win an election!" and applies the German nationalist message to American nationalism.

And the audience watching the movie thinks "What the hell? Do these guys remember what these people did to the Jews/Rom/gays/mentally disabled, etc?"

And the interesting thing is that it's never once mentioned in the entire movie. Were they trying to pretend it didn't happen for the sake of the movie? How can you have a movie about Nazis without acknowledging the Holocaust?

But the answer is actually easy. It's because the writers know that there isn't going to be one single person who watches the movie who isn't aware of the Holocaust, and isn't going to have it in the back of their mind as they watch it. They wrote it assuming that we would be thinking about it, knowing that they wouldn't have to remind us "Hey, by the way audience members, you remember what the result of this extreme Nationalism was right?" They assumed their audience wasn't stupid. (Rare thing, I know - probably because the movie wasn't made in the USA.)

Keep your eye out for a follow-up post to this - there's a bit of a controversial topic I'd like to discuss.

Rating it eight cylinders.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Steampunk Photoshoot and Interview

I had the privilege of sitting in on a Steampunk photoshoot recently, and it was a ton of fun to watch Adrienne Paul playing in front of the camera, and helping assemble a number of steamy and spectacular outfits. So of course, I jumped at the chance to interview Maj Jose, the photographer and fellow Steampunk.

How did you get into photography and what do you love about it?

My love for photography started when I was in High School in the year club. As an awkward teen, I learned I could meet people and have them smile when I pointed the camera. The hours spent in the darkroom developing my images and craft gave me a sense of peace and belonging. My camera was my security blanket, I was accepted everywhere.

When did you first discover Steampunk and what is your favorite part about it?

I first discovered SP in the movies. I have always loved old movies set in the Victorian, Art Nouveau , and Art Deco period . I loved the costuming , the light and the scenes. I remember the movie the Time Machine the 1960's version not the 2002 , and how it captivated me and held my attention. I like the simplicity of this complex idea. Time and history could be changed. It's like any science fiction story that our fate is in our hands and our history can be changed. That's my favorite part of SP, role-playing a fantasy. That my images, even though it's for a short period of time, can be reality .

What was your favorite aspect of the Steampunk shoots you've done so far? What is it about SP that inspires you?

Combining my 2 passions , science fiction and my love for antiques. My tired dusty antiques become a living breathing work of art. When one of my wonderful models adopts their persona I am transported back in time and place and it frees my imagination. I also like collaborating with my fellow photographers to use different photography techniques to achieve the look that I envisioned.

Favorite SP accessory?

I can't choose just one accessory! I love them all, from pocket watches, goggles to odd looking machinery with gears and heavy metal!

Favorite SP movies and books?

I'm a visual artist so I love movies, can't pick just one! Wild Wild West, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Around the world in 80 days ( both versions) . Even the 5th Element.

What would you say is your favorite "version" or style of SP? Gritty fighter pilot? Grungy street thief? Romantic, sweeping skirts? Or something altogether different?

I would say something altogether different … I grew up in Toronto during the 80's and that decade has influenced me tremendously! Reading graphic novels by Neil Gaimen, as I hung out on Queen Street ( that's where the old book stores and junk shops were before it became trendy ). Watching movies during the Toronto Film Fest. Back then Punk Rock ruled and seeing someone in biker jackets and a vintage skirt was normal for me. I remember the creativity that surrounds that area. And I want my images to convey that feeling of whimsy with a touch of flare and grit.

Would you consider playing with any of the offshoots of Steampunk? Like Dieselpunk. Clockpunk, Cyberpunk, ect?

Possibly …..

How is a SP shoot different than a normal shoot? Does it give you more room to play? Are the shots or models different? Different mindset?

Every session is different because every subject is different. I take the same amount of time prepping for SP shoots and Portrait sessions. However SP and fantasy shoots are my favorite because of the familiarity of the subject. I connect with these creative individuals faster when I am shooting SP and Fantasy sessions. In a word, I have more FUN!

Do you plan on doing more SP shoots in the future? If so, can we have a hint of what's to come? Themes? Ideas?

I plan to have more SP shoots in the near Future . I was thinking of a Christmas card depicting a Steam Punk banquet and tea party . But then again I might incorporate images on a tarot card that's all in Steam Punk…. or maybe Neil Gaiman's character's from the vertigo comics Sandman…. or Baron Munchhausen or …. the possibilities are ENDLESS! 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Novel Experiment

Recently we did an article on "A New Way of Storytelling" which was people joining the story through youtube videos, acting out characters and moving the plot along that way. Today, we're talking about something slightly different.

Fair warning: Children of the Archive is the Steampunkette's project, so this article is going to be totally biased about how cool this is.

What's it About?

Amelia Harris has always wanted to be a writer, but her uptight family thinks it isn't a respectable career for a woman.

When Amelia gets a letter in the post informing her that she has made it into Proustworth Academy, the prestigious school of Rune Scribes, she finds herself shipped off before she has time to consider if she wants to learn magic or not.

At Proustworth, everything is run on a schedule, and Amelia finds herself memorizing old scrolls full of runes and attempting to fit in with the spoiled and wealthy children of aristocrats from all over the country.

In spite of the dull lessons and dusty classrooms, she finds herself fascinated with the magic of the runes, learning spells to scramble the words in books, make them deadly to the reader, and even bring stories to life. When she meets Leon – a boy with a bad heart and a passion for writing that equals her own – Amelia begins to think she may actually like school.

But when the Archive’s valuable Libris Mortis (The Book of Death) goes missing, the school is thrown into chaos. Someone at Proustworth now has access to dozens of deadly spells, and they seem to be very interested in Amelia.

How Does This Work?

COTA, a gothic fantasy with steampunk elements, will be a full-length novel serialized on a Wordpress platform. What makes this different, is that readers can participate in the story. Essentially, this is the ultimate "choose your own adventure". Readers will be able to create characters, back story and drive the plot along. They will create their own runes to be featured in the story, and decide what monsters populate the forest that surrounds the school.

How Can I Get Involved?

Getting involved in the creative process can be as simple as commenting on the posts with suggestions, or as complex as drawing your own runes and sending them in.

When Does it Start?

There will be a "Call for Runes" post going up this weekend, after that a new "call" will be going up every week until Halloween. The first chapter of COTA will go up October 31st.

Let us know what you think of the idea of interactive storytelling in the comments below, and be sure to check out Children of the Archive HERE.