Interview: Ryan Copple from Riese the Series

Riese6I recently interviewed Ryan Copple from Riese the Series:

Is this your first video series?

Yes, this is our first foray into a serialized media. We've all worked on smaller projects, such as pilots and short films. It's been good practice to prepare for something as big as Riese.

That sounds interesting.   Most of the best series have a rich story arc knitting all the episodes together.  This is a good sign for the series.

Why did you decide to make a steampunk series?

It's funny, people have really taken to branding us a "steampunk series", which I don't 100% agree with. Don't misunderstand, I love the steampunk genre, and there are lot of elements we drew from it for the show. I love all the anachronisms in steampunk and the way you can meld eras together to create an entirely new world. We are, however, not having this story take place in a Victorian-era, which is more typical of steampunk. That's why we always try to say steampunk-inspired - we were heavily influenced by the story elements and aesthetics of it, but it would be unfair to the genre itself to say we were totally steampunk.

I've often felt that genre is more of a trap than an aid to marketing.  Creators should always feel free to transcend the genre labels applied to them.

What other steampunk books/series/comics do you like?

[reus name="Last Exile"]I haven't read that many steampunk books yet, though people have been giving me a list that I need to get through. I'm more familiar with the film and television aesthetic. My personal favorite is 'Last Exile', an anime series that people often put with steampunk. The story is great, and the designs and aesthetic is wonderful.

Last Exile is a great series.  The story is brilliant and the show is truly well designed.  I have to say the same about Riese.  While I haven't seen the your show yet, the materials you have made available exhibit those same qualities of design and aesthetic.  The look and feel of your site and trailer have only added to the excitement around the series.

If you had to compare Riese to another series/movie, what would you compare it to?

If I had to pick, I'd say it's a cross between.

The emergence of the Webseries allows the return of the serial: a singular story told over multiple installments.  As a fan of the format, I cannot wait to see what you are going to do with it.

How did you decide to make an Alternative Reality Game (ARG)?

We wanted to create an adventure that would help draw viewers into the world of Riese before we launched. By immersing them in the story even before the show began, we thought it might make players feel more connected to the show as they've been introduced to many of the elements already.

What was the ARG creation experience like?

Well, it's still going on, and it's both exciting and daunting at the same time. I'd say the biggest challenge is keeping up with everyone. You can spend days and days creating puzzles that you think will be challenging, only to have them solved in 15 minutes.

I feel your pain.  We have been toying around with the idea of building an ARG for my next book.  There is a lot to consider and too many variable to consider before release.

What has the response to the ARG been?

Positive so far. My biggest regret is that we lack the resources to make it as expansive as we would have liked. We've kept it pretty small in scope this time, but I know that we have another one planned for down the road that'll be even bigger, assuming the show succeeds.

It would be a great thing if there were an open source ARG engine to make construction easier for everyone.

What tech are you using to make the series?

One big technological asset has been shooting with the RED One. It's an amazing digital camera that has absolutely revolutionized film. It also makes more sense to use for us, as a webseries, because our content is going straight to computers. Shooting on film, while beautiful, would be overkill for a project such as this where the picture quality won't translate to streaming as it does on HD television screens or movies. With the RED we can optimize our media platform and do it economically.

The RED cameras produce wonderful video.  It should set you up for multiple versions of the video.

How many people are involved in making the series?

Too many to count off the top of my head - we've got the creators, producers, costumers, set designers, writers... the list goes on and on! We're incredibly blessed to have each and every one of them on our team though, as we couldn't do it without them.

Do you have plans for merchandising the series? (t-shirts, statuettes, dvds)

When we launch we'll also be rolling out our merchandise store, which will feature apparel and other smaller accessories. Eventually we plan on selling episodes digitally and DVDs. In addition, we're also developing an iPhone card battle game to tie-in with the show.

Sounds interesting.  I cannot wait to see the series.