Interview: Trevor Crafts Lifts Lid On ‘Lantern City’

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Late last month I got to speak with Bruce Boxleitner about a new series he was developing called Lantern City.

Recently I got to speak with Executive Producer and series creator Trevor Crafts, who gave us the lowdown on how he met Bruce Boxleitner and how the idea for Lantern City evolved.

SFP: I noticed that you worked with Bruce Boxleitner on a series, which you are currently shopping around the networks called Smokewood. Was that around the same time that you dreamed up the idea for Lantern City because I believe you and Bruce did share an 9 hour evening developing ideas for the show.

Trevor Crafts: I had started the idea.. actually a little before Smokewood.

It was one of those things that you have sort of sitting in the back your mind percolating in your mind. I mean as creators and as fans of genre film and television we all have these great ideas that we have sort of poking around, and this was one that I had for quite awhile.

I’m a student of history myself. I love steampunk. I came to it very early back in 1996 with a short story that I wrote and sort of fell in love with it. I sort of liked the idea of alternative history and having actually seen some of the scientific instruments of the 1800s, which are absolutely gorgeous with the brass and wood and how it all works together. And I’d heard about this magic lantern, which is a scientific entertainment device of the 1800s. Sort of the victorian version of the slide projector and I thought what if a magic lantern is actually scientifically or magically enhanced in some way where the image that you saw was actually a gateway or a door.

Like a classic Alice In Wonderland story or Stargate. It is a theme that carries through our science fiction mythos. You know there is something about a simple story about a traveling hero. We see that again and again. It’s sort of a Joseph Campbell hero myth style where a reluctant hero travels to save the person that he loves the most. And that really sort of what the core of the idea was that I had for Lantern City.

Then it was sort of about finding out who I could sort of bring in to help with this project because it is so big, and I needed somebody with the experience of working on FX television.

Bruce and I got to be pretty fast friends after Smokewood and obviously his work on Babylon 5 is pretty well documented. So it was a good partnership and as a writer Bruce is great! He has two novels under his belt with Frontier Earth and he’s another fan of steampunk and he was almost not really knowing it was steampunk, but knowing that he had this huge love of Jules Verne, Victorian History and Alternative History.

At around the same time we’d both really jumped into steampunk works that were being published currently and then came the fateful nine hour conversation where we really developed this idea with these core couple of characters into a much broader world.

SFP: The one thing you can say about both Jules Verne and HG Wells is that they are both renowned in literature for being the godfathers of science fiction, but its funny because they could also be credited as playing a role in developing steampunk as well.

Trevor Crafts: It’s very cyclical. You know there are a lot of other modern writers who equally have their hand in steampunk both in comics and books. Obviously Michael Moorlock and a lot of other people that have put their stamp on it. And that’s the nice thing about steampunk is that I think it is definable because you can see it and feel it, but it is also undefinable because it is constantly growing and evolving and it comes from a very large group of individuals unlike something like Star Wars where you have one person with a very specific vision on it, which is a finite closed loop. With steampunk it continues to grow. It continues to evolve. It continues to push into new areas in art and in modern culture and in some degree film and television, but I think that is an area where it has been lacking in the most. Which is why we’re trying to be the first ones to bring true steampunk to modern media. It really hasn’t been done well. It has been butchered, it has been marginalized. I mean good shows like Warehouse 13 haven’t really brought you true steampunk because that’s not what their purpose is. For us Lantern City is a world that is fully steampunk with its techology, its art and its architecture. All of it together. Its going to have the stamp of steampunk.

SFP: I’m looking forward to seeing that. I’ve read you character break downs and have to say that your ruling class, who are referred to as the Grey’s are pretty hardcore. I mean they will pretty much make a worker work to the death, but have absolutely no remorse in shooting them for not pulling their weight

Trevor Crafts: I think that’s the interesting part about our characters, that we have these rich multilayered characters.

Killian Grey, who is obviously the current ruler of Lantern City is a really, really nasty guy. And at the same time he’s incredibly charismatic. If Bruce Wayne (Batman) was a really evil guy. He’d be Bruce Wayne. Like a bizzaro Bruce Wayne.

Even the other characters like Max and Rachel and Ellington the police officer. These are all people that have to change what they do. There normal day to day life existence of who they know themselves to be in order to survive in Lantern City.

I think viewers are going to find this rich multilayered character approach like a Game Of Thrones or a Babylon 5. That’s really what we are going to hook the mainstream audience with is to really show them something that’s really broad and unique that they can latch onto. And steampunk is the world that they live in and I think that’s where the steampunk community comes in.

You can hear the full version of this interview, which also includes information on how you can help contribute to the creation of Lantern City on SFP-NOW on Monday 27 at 6:30PM EST 5:30C, 3:30PM PST, which is 11:30 UK time. For details on the live broadcast of this interview click here.

If you’d like to contribute to the series and wish to learn more you can join the Lantern City message board community at: lanterncitytv.com

Trevor Crafts, Bruce Boxleitner and Lantern City writer Matthew James Daley will be attending Dragon Con this coming weekend in Atlanta. So be sure to attend their panel if you want to learn more about this exciting new steampunk project. You can learn more about Dragon Con at: dragoncon.org

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