This week we are talking with Matt King, who was one of the three judges on Steampunk’d, from GSN, the Game Show Network. Steampunk’d is the first steampunk reality show to be broadcast on cable television.
Airship Ambassador: Hi Matt, thanks for joining us this week.
Matt King: Salut! Thanks for having me.
AA: What an amazing experience to be on the first steampunk reality show on TV. As a brief summary, how was it for you?
MK: It was a tremendous amount of fun, stress, and amazing design. I was really impressed, and I think that the viewers are going to be stunned by how hard the makers pushed themselves to bring their art to life and are going to love the finished product.
AA: It will be interesting to see what the makers were able to create in such a limited time each week. How long have you been involved in the steampunk community and what brought you into it?
MK: I’ve been reading Steampunk since I was a little kid, before it was even called “Steampunk”: Jules Verne, HG Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, KW Jeter, etc.. I’m a dyed in the wool Sci Fi geek, and I’ve always been drawn to the “confluence” type of sci fi, the genres that blend both magic and weird science, whimsy and dark mysteries. The first time I hit the community head on though was 2009 at SDCC. I was blown away by the design and detail of the costumes, and the feeling that there were stories waiting to be told about all of these crazy wonderful people. I went back home and started writing The World of Steam that night.
AA: All of that is some great inspiration to get started with. What is your background and experience in designing and creating things, and how did you get started?
MK: I’ve been an actor for years, first with the first Broadway tour of ‘Titanic: The Musical“, then on television in LA (most notably Numb3rs, 24 and GI Joe), but all of the auditioning made me feel like I was asking permission to do what I loved. So I started to write as well. I won the Words From Here contest, then became a finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship then won the CAPE/Hollywood Foreign Press Young Screenwriters Award. I felt like I had solved the paradigm, but at the end of the day I was still asking permission. So I decided to take a crazy sci fi idea to kickstarter. It became the highest funded pilot for a web series on kickstarter and led us to multiple production companies picking us up. That’s actually where we are currently. In the fun of development in Hollyweird.
AA: That’s great work experience and interesting how it led you to creating your web series. What is it about steampunk as an aesthetic that appeals to you?
MK: It’s the knifes edge between magic and mechanical, reality and science fiction, the historical and the fantastical. It is a never ending idea generator.
AA: What are some designs or materials that tend to really capture your interest?
MK: I love airships. Put an airship in it and I’m halfway there. Also, I love designs that are whimsical and actually in the background. I am always struck by the magical or fantastical being used for common activities. I used to love the old Tex Avery/MGM cartoons that would show the ‘World of Tomorrow’ or when comics would show superheroes doing everyday things. So I love incorporating design elements that the characters take for granted as commonplace, but the viewer is blown away by. We made a balloon carriage based on the designs of Chad Weatherford and I love how it enhanced our world.
AA: Chad’s work is quite appealing. What is something that you’d like to create but haven’t done so yet?
MK: A steampunk sub.
AA: Ha,yes! If it can’t be an airship, then I want the Nautilus! How has your work changed over time? What are some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?
MK: My writing used to tend toward the overly flowery and overly descriptive, relying largely on plot. Two things changed me over. First, realizing that plot always serves character, and two that essentializing your writing and killing your darlings brings out the best that you can create.
AA: How did you first hear about the show and the opportunity to actually be on it?
MK: The network had seen my work and approached me. I gave advice when I could as to what would be good for the show, the community and opening the steampunk brand to people who might come to see themselves as steampunkers too.
AA: What was your interest or motivation to be on the show? Was the role of judge what you set out to do?
MK: Initially, I was worried about it. Steampunk is one of the last bastions of Nerd culture left. Comic Con isn’t about comics, video games have taken over narrative, and television and film are eating up anything genre based and not really sorting the bad from the good. So when I saw that they were taking something that I view as “pure,” I was a little taken aback. However, when I saw how respectful they were, how much they wanted to get this right for the community and for the average viewer, I decided that it was important that I get on board.
We’ll break here in talking with Matt
Join us for the conclusion as Matt share more of his involvement with the show.
Keep up to date with Matt’s latest news on his website.
Also, check out his exhibit page at The Steampunk Museum.
Follow the latest news about the show on the Steampunk’d website.