Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat 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. He’s also the creator of the web series, The World of Steam
Read Part one here.
Airship Ambassador: Once you were selected to appear on the show as a judge, what preparations did you have to make before you left for Los Angeles? What were you leaving behind or had to put on hold while you were away for filming?
Matt King: I’m based in LA, so it was more a matter of juggling my current show, the demands of my acting and voiceover careers and the scripts that were on deadline.
AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things might viewers see in each episode?
MK: The producers manufactured nothing. That blew me away. I don’t really know the inside baseball of competition shows, although my wife is a Top Chef and Project Runway addict. I loved how the folks who made the show just stood back and let it happen. What was great was that these were a bunch of very opinionated, very persnickety, very focused, very talented artists, forced to work together. Sometimes what they made was astounding, other times it was as awful as awful gets. But that’s what happens when you are given limited time, limited resources, and forced to work outside of your comfort zone. It’s good TV.
AA: That’s definitely a challenge on these competition shows compared to real life where people have more time for planning and creating. What were the factors you used in assessing each contestant’s work?
MK: I believe in “say A, do A” and I am detail oriented and super critical. I also don’t believe that whether or not someone wins the competition it makes any sense for me to pat them on the back and say “good work” when it wasn’t. It doesn’t serve them as an artist and it disrespects the genre. So if they were lousy, lazy or didn’t do what they promised or what was asked, I slammed them. If they gave every last bit of effort that they had and brought the best they could, I praised that.
AA: Were there any situations when there was some involved discussions amongst the judges in choosing a winning, or losing, design?
MK: Hells yes.
AA: Ah, to be a fly on the wall. What are some memorable moments you had during filming?
MK: I enjoyed yukking it up with Thomas and Kato. Thomas is incredibly funny and Kato is very pithy and charming. She and I would do Alan Rickman impersonations as if Alan Rickman was judging Steampunk’d and using contemporary South London slang to do it. Having Kato do Alan Rickman’s drawl while saying, “that deesiiign is the dogs bollocks” makes me crack up just thinking about it.
AA: LOL! I think we need to get you and Kato to record those impressions for us! Were there any items that you just craved to take home with you?
MK: Yes, lots. Who says I didn’t? Oh wait, this is going on the internet? I was very sad when it all went away.
AA: Ha, I see! It’s going to be interesting to see what the viewing public wants to take home as they start watching the show. How much did you get to interact with the contestants, other judges, and the production crew?
MK: The other judges and I were in constant contact. We were unable to talk to the contestants outside of judging or assessing their materials. The production crew was present, but really hands off. Which is great, until Thomas starts getting passionate about some design and starts waving that hammer around.
AA: What were some challenges for you personally during the filming?
MK: Yeah. I don’t like crushing people’s dreams so it was very hard a few times sending people home. I wanted them to give their best, and sometimes very deserving people went home because they didn’t.
AA: When people watch Steampunk’d, what would you like for them to take away from the show and what was created that they could apply to their own work?
MK: They’ll see techniques in how to improvise, improve and think their way around design problems. Also they’ll learn how to use the idea of the overall design to create an immersive whole. Something that draws people in to touch and interact, rather than just being a presentational piece.
AA: How was it coming home and getting back to your regular schedule and life?
MK: Good and bad. Great because I got to get back to family and work, but bad because of the amount of work that had piled up while I was concentrating on the show.
AA: What suggestions do you have for people who are thinking of applying for a possible season 2?
MK: Do good work in a public forum.
AA: Now that the show has wrapped production and is about to air, what comes next for you?
MK: We’re still developing World of Steam with a great producer, and I’m hoping that the NDA will be cleared so I can announce a bunch of things. Other than that I have another horror screenplay that is optioned that looks like it’s moving forward and a bunch of acting stuff as well. Check me out in the new Fallout!
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, what other interests fill your time?
MK: Kids, wife, food, animation, screenplays, acting and other forms of sci fi and fantasy. Plus I’d really love to get 10 minutes to read something.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
MK: They are the bedrock on which it sits.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
MK: Got an hour? I love training, and I would love to do a spartan marathon. I would love to get more time scuba diving. And I have a yen to do a show about food. Ah well.
AA: What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant) ?
AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?
MK: On my life? Positively: Emotionally: Kids and my wife. Physically: Getting cast as Bruce Lee in a film and getting trained for 8 months. Spiritually: Having that deal fall through and dealing with the emotional aftermath. Professionally: Deciding to do a Broadway audition right out of college even though I thought I was woefully unprepared. Negatively: just trying to remain a person who is still on “Plan A.” I am lucky enough to be doing what I decided to do at age 13 when I got in my first play. But deciding to remain an artist every day is a crazy decision.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers
MK: Do what you love, the rest comes.
Thanks, Matt, for joining us in this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
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.