Welcome back to the second part of our interview with Mikel Sauve of the Vulcania Volunteers.
The first part can be read here.
AA: Speaking of conventions, what are some memorable reactions to your work which you’ve heard from people? Have people followed up with you afterward, too?
MS: Well, it’s really interesting. We were actually discovered by steampunk – through Brass Goggles. A friend of mine wrote me an e-mail saying, “Did you guys know that you guys were steampunk?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, there’s a site over in the UK called Brass Goggles. They’re talking about you. They saw your new webpage for the Nautilus art and work that you guys do.” And it just snowballed from there.
The response has been pretty good. We’re new to the convention scene as far as steampunk goes. There’s a lot of interest, but again it’s something where everybody loves what we do. In a way, I don’t know how to keep up with all of it. We’ve had a lot of interest. It’s been amazing. I’ve made some of the best friends in my life. In the past two or three years, I’ve been involved in steampunk and the work keeps getting more and more interesting. The creativity and the inspiration that I get as a result of the interactions with these different groups is great.
For some people that’s all there is—the conventions, …you get dressed up, you go, you meet and greet new people or catch up with old friends. But it’s what’s happening between the conventions that I find really pulls at me & I’ve made some really good friends. Some of them are now working with me on other projects outside of the Vulcania Volunteers.
For me, a question about memorable reactions is almost too big to answer—it’s like, “Describe the color blue.” There are so many different blues and I think that’s what’s wonderful about SP. Some people say, “I don’t get it. It doesn’t seem very punk.” And I reply, “Well, it’s basically steam and things related to that era. The interest in it, in any shape or form—science fiction or the love of that time with a twist to it, for me a particular interest in the machinery or mechanism of the day.” Yet it’s so diverse that it’s difficult to capture it all in one shot.
AA: It sounds like great opportunities for networking, meeting people and creative projects, which is a nice problem to have.
MS: Yes, I’ve never been so busy. I thought that if I focused on steampunk and Nautilus, I could get a lot more done if I just concentrated on those things. But it’s like a diamond—sure it’s small in your hand, yet it’s multi-faceted with so many sides & angles to it, and the way light plays and interacts inside of it. It’s that kind of analogy. It’s small, but when you look inside – it’s overwhelming! I’m inspired to do so much more than I’ll ever have time to do. You know the feeling. Too many books to read; too many films; too many interesting people; too many places to go. We love it, because we are multi-faceted.
AA: I can definitely relate to all that. There are too many things to do but I wouldn’t give it up either.
MS: Through you and conversations with you, I met a wonderful character that fascinates and frustrates me at the same time – Mr. Perschon—the Steampunk Scholar. I think that when I first met him I just wanted to get into a debate with him. He knows so much that it was fun to just want to bump heads with him. Then I saw one of his talks at Steamcon III and I was thoroughly impressed. He’s an amazing & very interesting fellow.
AA: Yeah, Mike is a lot of fun and definitely knows his stuff.
MS: When I go to him with a question about something, I can do so with confidence because he really knows his stuff and I know the ego just isn’t there. In some cases, celebrity brings with it a distance. He’s so accessible and knowledgeable, an all around great guy. I just can’t say enough good things about him.
AA: Yeah, Mike is great. I’m glad that I got to meet him too at the first Steamcon. He was one of the very first people that I met there. I saw one of his panels about Captain Nemo and history and character and all. It was amazing. I was enthralled for an hour just listening to him and then it was like, “What? It’s over?”
MS: There’s never enough time. That’s my one gripe about the convention circuit and all, you meet these wonderful people and far too soon, ‘It’s over? No more time to talk’ Or ever finding the time to talk. That’s my only real complaint and that’s a good complaint to have, I think.
AA: Talking about lack of time, you’re working on other projects, or the Volunteers are working on projects beyond the Nautilus props and the drawings and such. What are some of the other projects that have come up?
MS: Well, this is the branch that came off the Vulcania Volunteers’ tree. It started with Wayne’s Albatross Plans.
When further exploiting our natural resources – the artist, the research analyst and the model maker – we now have a new aspect of the Vulcania Volunteers – The Revisioneers!
Our first creation was a new set of original plans for the C57-D Star Cruiser from Forbidden Planet that are incomparable. Nobody has come this close when it comes to accuracy, detail, and precision.
And we’re now thinking of making our own C57-D model kit with the most accurate plans out there. Ours!
We’re also working on a few other things—vehicles from the movie ‘Things To Come’ (1936) I believe. H. G. Wells actually had a hand in art directing that movie before he died.
One of my favorite is the Bolide, the small black plane that Raymond Massey flew. Bolide is another name for meteor.
Plans are interesting in that sometimes accuracy can be a problem. Using the original Disney plans for the Nautilus will result in a model that varies greatly from the models used in the film.
David’s plans are much better—they represent the Nautilus that we actually see on screen—they’re an amalgam of all the different models & sets.
David’s been able to render all the variations into one, so for the first time we’re getting really accurate plans of how the Nautilus is, and now with the Re-Visioneers – we also get the Albatros, and the C57 and it looks like there’s no end in sight to the possibilities.
There are great plans of the Tardis. You and I had talked about this… You happened to know of people in England who had access to original K9 blueprint / plans. The plans provided are really good and I’m sure they’re right from the studio, but what’s on screen is a little bit different. And which do you & I remember more —the K9 plans, or the K9 on screen? That’s what the Re-Visioneers are doing, rendering plans as we see them on-screen, rather than just rendering them as studio accurate, …because a lot of the time – there are definite discrepancies.
AA: I’ve seen many design plans that start off with those type of plans and changes are made along way because they were needed, but the plans where not updated to reflect those changes.
MS: Exactly my point. There are scenes in the Nautilus where Peter Lorre is walking down a hallway that we know is in the front of the boat and then, all of a sudden, he’s at the back of the boat the minute he turns a corner. Sci-Fi fans might know this & say, “Hey, wait a minute!” Most likely, your readers all have that acute-continuity in their heads – it’s scientifically inherent that all Sci-fi geeks to have it built into them. We can easily spot and recognize things out of time or place, or when there’s a wrong edit here or there.
It’s now a lot easier to find your way around these things accurately, especially now that we can instantly replay them – we just rewind it. Especially the things you want to live in – like the Nautilus or the Tardis or the Albatross or the C57. The rooms, places & spaces – that our hearts and minds wander into & love to get lost in… We want to inhabit them and that’s why we’ll have a picture on the wall or models of things like that. It’s to enjoy this or that thing and live in the dream of being there. Travel in it, through it & with it. And that’s one of the things that motivates the V.V. to be as accurate as we can.
We’ll pause here in our conversation with Mikel and next time as we continue, we’ll talk about prop and model making.