Welcome back for part two of our chat with Niki Phillips, who was one of the ten contestants on Steampunk’d, from GSN, the Game Show Network. Steampunk’d is the first steampunk reality show to be broadcast on cable television.
Read part one here.
Airship Ambassador: Pop Magnet was the casting company chosen by Pink Sneakers, the production company, to find candidates for the show. What can you share with us about the interview process that you went through with them?
Niki Phillips: We were told we would go through a challenge test, under a 6 hour time limit, to steampunk-out an ordinary, everyday item with limited materials and tools at our disposal. Let me tell you, the materials were very limited, but that’s part of steampunk… thinking outside the box. I got really into it and just dove in!
AA: The final part of the selection process was a sample challenge to steampunk a common everyday item. What was your item and what did you do with it?
NP: I transformed a hot pink, camouflaged patterned kids backpack into the steampunk leather pack of a world traveler. I covered it completely in leather pieces of different shades of brown, from a deep, dark brown to a light tan. I hand stitched and riveted over the entire backpack, painted it in places to add depth and effect, added extra pockets it didn’t have originally. I wanted it to really look aged, well used, pieced together and like it belonged to a traveler who was mostly on foot. I wanted that backpack to look like it could tell you some great stories if it could talk. Every knick on it surface or restitched seam had a story to it, and its pockets a well used purpose.
AA: Once you were selected in the final ten to appear on the show, 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?
NP: I had to make sure my son would be taken care of while I was gone, pay some bills ahead of time, and handle some things for my social media blog. My whole life got put on hold. I also usually spend those months I was in L.A. at home making new costumes for upcoming events in the fall or getting a head start on things for the beginning of the following year, so I had to push some projects back.
AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things might viewers see in the episodes you were in?
NP: My facial expressions. I giggled at some of my responses.
AA: What are some memorable moments you had during filming?
NP: I really enjoyed meeting everyone on the show, getting to know a little about everyone’s background.
AA: What are some factors that you had in common with the other contestants or set you apart?
NP: I’d say my experience working with certain of the materials such as long-pile faux furs, rubbers, vinyls, a lot of hand sculpted pieces and custom pattern drafting is what set me apart from some of the other contestants. But we all love the steampunk genre, and that intense joy in and passion for our fandom is what I had in common with the other contestants.
AA: What were some challenges for you personally during the filming?
NP: Being away from my family; with the time zone difference, I only got two times to talk with them. That was really hard for me. The food provided was a lot of take out and I hardly eat take out food ever, so that was really hard on my stomach. Not to mention I am a huge coffee fiend and not getting my normal coffee allowance a day was … unpleasant.
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?
NP: I want people to realize that this is a reality tv show first, and that not everything is as it appears on the show. It’s there for the entertainment value. I hope that the viewers will be inspired to create their own costumes and props. We spent so much time helping each other out and almost none of that was aired on tv. I wish the camaraderie of steampunk was a bigger part of the show and that it had been less drama driven.
We’ll pause here in talking with Niki.
Join us for the conclusion when she talks about the returning home and upcoming projects.
Also, check out her exhibit page at The Steampunk Museum.