Welcome back for part two in our visit with Ingimar Oddsson, organizer of the Steampunk Festival in Iceland.
Read Part One here.
Airship Ambassador: Your passion and work seems to have really engaged the interest of the local townsfolk, so much so that even the Mayor attends in steampunk garb?
Ingimar Oddsson: In Bildudalur almost every inhabitant participated in the first steampunk festival. The mayor, Ásthildur Sturludóttir became a princess and the local priest Sr. Leifur became the archbishop of Bildalia who crowned the king and queen. People in smaller towns realize the potentials a festival of this sort could have for the community. Stores, restaurants and other business will benefit from an event like this and we have had a lot of support, financially as well as morally. The festival didn’t grow as we had hoped so that’s why we moved it a little bit closer to the crowd.
At Steamposium 2015, Photo by MK Studios
AA: Getting that community support is wonderful and it would be great to see more of that at other events. If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like this festival. What is “X”?
IO: A real life steampunk fantasy experience, that is what we aim for.
AA: What do you think puts this event on someone’s must attend list?
IO: The same thing. We have got the wonderful people like most steampunks are but also the Icelandic nature plays a big part to create the fantasy. I would say that the environment is just as important as the people.
AA: The airship is ready, sign me up for a passport! I’m bringing my camera and autograph book! Who or what might I see while I’m there?
IO: Every time we have had something different regarding music and artists, but always the best possible experience we could afford.
AA: The mainstay of conventions is panels, interviews, and demonstrations of various types. Where do you get ideas for the programs?
IO: Mostly it comes out of my own head. I have visited and participated in other Steampunk conventions and learned that we have a very different approach. I see this as an experience, entertainment and an adventure. But also it is a way for us steampunkers to get together, get to know other steampunks and display talents, arts or personality. We wish to have panels for others to enjoy and bring more people into the world of steampunk. We encourage others to take part in the story and become citizens of Bildalia. They can choose their own title or occupation and all of this influences the story.
AA: Hmmm, choose one’s own title, eh? Thinking, thinking… Is there anything in particular that you look for in a program topic?
IO: Anything related to Steampunk fantasy and at the same time is entertaining or exciting.
AA: Where do you look for speakers/performers for those programs?
IO: It is very different, sometimes I really search for the right person and sometimes they fall from the skies. Budget has always a great influence on how far we can reach.
AA: Darn that budget. When choosing those speakers/performers, what do you look for to get a quality person?
IO: Enthusiasm, if they are eager to participate there is more chance. But I really want our guests to experience something spectacular, something unexpected and leave with joy and appreciation.
AA: Passion and knowledge go a long way. What are other key attractions for this festival?
IO: You are a part of it. Even though we have had lots of spectators we try to draw them into the scenario each time. Once they were kidnapped by Bildalian arch enemy “the Grotters” and locked up in a warehouse. And then saved again by our “League of Ravens”. So when you are in this world you will become a part of it.
AA: Another big aspect of conventions are the vendors and all the great items they bring. What kinds of vendors do you look for?
IO: If it’s Steampunk it goes along with our world. I like the ones that create themselves. We have had marketplace every time in the center of the scene. The booths have been free of charge but also we ourselves have gathered steampunk things to sell at the marked for the benefit of the festival.
Photo by Melkorka Oskarsdottir
AA: Conventions run on volunteers. How many people are involved to hold this event?
IO: Most of the Steampunk Iceland participants are volunteers. We find accommodations and something to eat and drink. Also the community workers of Bildudalur have helped out with more difficult tasks and many other lend a hand to the project. I would say that in between 12 and 30 people have a hand in the preparation each time.
AA: Wow, again, it’s so great and encouraging to hear how the townsfolk come together, too. How did all of those people get involved?
IO: It’s very different. Some started as guests and others were forced into it as employers of the community. But also some of those good people just believe in the project and want to help out.
AA: How is Iceland, and Bildudalur in particular, for holding a convention? How does location impact bringing in resources, access, publicity, etc?
IO: Bildudalur is a wonderful place for a longer stay, at least a weekend or so. But it is 5 hours drive from the capital. Reykjavík is today really a popular place for all sorts of meeting and conventions, exhibitions and shows.
Our task was to bring people all the way to Bildudalur and live the fantasy as “where it happened”, but we need more people and bigger income to make this event as it should be; a real steampunk fantasy.
Iceland is on its own a magnificent experience and big events such as Secret Solstice and Iceland airwaves have been very successful. Within Iceland there is not so difficult to get the word out. But like everywhere else it costs money, Steampunk Iceland has almost entirely used the social media such as Facebook to promote our event. On the other hand it costs a lot to travel. And Iceland can only be reached by air. Getting artists and craftsmen to come from different locations in the world and take part in our venue could be more difficult. We are now funding the next years festival and it will soon be clear how much we can anticipate to spend.
Let’s break here in chatting with Ingimar. Join us next time when he talks about the work to actually produce the event.