Exclusive Interview with Kaleena Kiff of Riese the Series

A few weeks back I was offered the opportunity to conduct an interview with the creators of Riese the Series. An opportunity which I obviously took. So here is the interview between Daily Steampunk (Traveler) and Kaleena Kiff, co-creator/director of Riese the Series.

This Interview will very likely be available on this blog for only a limited amount of time before being transfered to the Gatehouse Gazette. Afterwards, it may also resurface in a dedicated section of my main page.

But for now, without further ado, here is the interview with Kaleena Kiff, co-creator and director of Riese the Series:

DS: How did you discover Steampunk?
KK: We both were familiar with steampunk beforehand, but didn’t realize we were creating a ‘steampunk’ world until well into Riese’s development. Ryan and I were working with an artist, Jay Senetchko, on concept drawings for Riese. The more we described this world, and Jay’s drawings brought it to life, the more familiar it seemed. People began to identify it as steampunk, so we invesigated the genre further to learn more. It turned out that while we weren’t following steampunk to a ‘tee’, we were drawing heavily from it. Our world is extremely anachronistic, much like steampunk, but does not take place in a Victorian-era, for example. After that we began to infuse the genre more and more into our own world. We never want to claim to be purists by any means, but we hope to pay homage to the genre, while still remaining true to the original story we developed.

DS: Why did you choose a Steampunk setting for Riese the Series?- What do you consider particularly attractive about a steampunk setting?

KK: Steampunk is such a beautiful and inspiring world, and I’ve yet to see an episodic, mainstream series incorporate it. Moreover, we didn’t want to write a post-apocalyptic scenario. Instead we imagined a world like ours, but not ours, as if World War I never happened. Similar to how steampunk blends Victorian and Futuristic esthetics, we’re blending Norse mythology, pre-apocalyptic eerieness, and an almost fascist environment.

DS: What other influences apart from steampunk and post-apocalyptic have found their way into the series?

KK: Again, the Norse mythology has offered us a wealth of inspirations. From the Vikings to the Celts, the stories are rich with drama. We preferred to go pre-apocalyptic to make Riese more of a cautionary tale told in the middle of the story, rather than after the fall. It’s so much more interesting to watch people descend into darkness rather than view the wasteland they created after they’ve turned on one another.

Could the force behind The Sect be described as a Lovecraftian Horror?

KK: I think that remains to be seen. Perhaps a bit Orwellian, but The Sect is more of a comment on the dangers of fanaticism or fundamentalism in general.

In what other works have you been engaged previously, is this material available on the net?

KK: Ryan has directed 2 short films (Awkward Silence and Time Before the Light) while I have directed about 11 short films, most recently The Morning After (available online), and Alice & Huck (available online at allisonmack.com)

Is Riese the Series an open project or is there already a fixed number of episodes?

KK: At this point we have 5 Chapters planned, though the story has multiple ways to carry on from these original 5 (which are comprised of 25 episodes)

Will Riese the Series involve some romantic elements?

KK: I think we will, though I’d prefer not to say who will be having the fun. We have a number of new characters joining the cast for Chapter 2, RAND (Ryan Robbins), ALIZA (Emilie Ullerup), GARIN (Alessandro Juliani), in addition to our current cast, so there will be a lot more potential moments for such things.

Fenrir’s out-of-character name is omitted from the official website, would you care to tell us?

KK: He is mostly played by a wonderful wolf-dog hybrid, Tundra. Occasionally we do use other wolves with additional skills to flesh out the performance.

Do you have any idea yet how big Riese’s world actually is?

KK: Will we see many parts of the world during the course of the series? Eleysia itself is a large country, about the size of Spain or Germany, but its borders are constantly growing under Empress Amara’s reign. Each Chapter’s title reflects the place Riese journeys to, so there will be 5 distinct areas that she explores within this season. In addition, the nxt episodes also delve deep into other characters’ lives as well, creating a story that has the potential to take place all over this expansive world.

You mentioned a booklet/pamphlet of the Sect which you handed out at ComiCon, is it available somewhere?

KK: We’ll be selling them in our e-store soon, though in a limited run. We don’t plan to reprint them.

Who funded the project? Is it possible to support you?

KK: The show is entirely privately financed, so any support we can garner from fans would be a great help in paying back our generous backers! If we can recoup the costs of the first 10 episodes through online sales (HD downloads and/or merchandise), ad revenue or sponsorship, we’ll be able to continue making the series.

DS: When can we expect to see airships?

KK: If you look closely in Episode 2, over Amara’s right shoulder, you can see 2 at a dock. We hope to be inside one sooner than later!

See this post on this blog, they were spotted, obviously, here’s the screenshot once more:

Riese the Series - Airships

DS: Who did the casting? Was there in deed a casting or are the actors involved also friends who showed interest in the project?

KK: It was a mixture of both auditions and offers to friends that are accomplished actors. Vancouver is blessed with an amazing talent pool of actors, and we’re lucky enough to have worked with many of them before on other projects. They all loved the story and wanted to be a part of bringing it to life.

DS: Who designed the costumes and scenery?

KK: Our costume designer is the massively talented Megan Leson, who has years of theater experience. She builds each costume from the ground up using found materials and gifted seamstresses. She lets us feel a part of the process by allowing us to tweak bits of leather here and there, which is so much fun. The production designer is Chad Krowchuk who combined his two talents as a successful painter and an actor to become an inspiring and tireless designer, crafting Eleysia by hand. He has a motley crew of ingenious builders, artists and craftspeople that help him tinker.

DS: Are there any concept drawings available online?

KK: There are concept drawings on our Facebook fan page in the photos section.

DS: What is the inspiration behind The Sect? Any Real Life cult?

KK: No real life cult inspired The Sect, though we did love a lot of what Jeunet and Caro did in City of Lost Children. Again, its more of a comment on allowing fanatics to rule people.

DS: Will we learn anything about the Eleysian religion prior to The Sect takeover?

KK: We plan to slowly introduce more and more of the Eleysian history as we proceed deeper along Riese’s journey.

DS: Will there be more parties, cults, interest-groups introduced during the course of the series?

KK: There is a Resistance movement that will surface in Chapter 2. They will have their own inner-strife to deal with. Moreover, Eleysia is simply one nation – there’s an entire world outside of these borders. So, yes, we’ll be seeing a number of different groups springing up in Eleysia.

 DS: Thank you for your time and for making this interview possible.

 Also, check out another interview with Kaleena at my friends from Clockworker.

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