It’s full steam ahead for The Jupiter Chronicles: A Steampunk Animated Short, now crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
Epic science fiction is combined with steampunk in an adventure that will appeal to the young and the “young at heart”. Based on a series of books, The Jupiter Chronicles was created by author Leonardo Ramirez, who says: “We want to make an animated series that is by the fans, for the fans.”
Coming on board for animation duties is Mike Halsey, veteran animator, and his company Magnetic Dreams who are behind some of the hottest animated adventures around, including the motion comics Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers and Iron Man: Extremis.
The story starts in the year 1892 and Ian and Callie Castillo have had to suffer the hardships of a single-parent family since their father went missing.
When they discover an old telescope in their attic, the Castillos are rocketed to the steam-powered floating cities of Jupiter where they discover a secret that will ignite an era that will forever be known by its strange name: steampunk!
I chatted with author and creator of The Jupiter Chronicles, Leonardo Ramirez, about taking the adventures of the Castillos from the page to the screen!
What prompted you to take The Jupiter Chronicles from a book series to an animated short? I’ve been told that my writing is visual in style and it’s true. Whenever I put pen to paper the first thing I ask myself is, “What would I love to see on the screen whether it be a movie or a show?” and that’s what ends up on the page. Although I want the work to mean something to the reader I also want to yank the reader out of their reality at breakneck speed and send them on a character-driven roller coaster ride that they don’t ever want to end.
With that said, it’s a natural transition from book to screen and The Jupiter Chronicles universe is so vast that we will never run out of story to tell. There will be plenty for both mediums. I’ve also heard vicious rumours that Steampunk is on the decline so I decided to do my own homework of my own and what I found was that it’s actually in a state of transition. The part of Steampunk that has established itself can be found in cosplay. While that can be fun for some it’s natural that a genre can lose its novelty if it remains focused on one aspect. I believe what Steampunk needs is something to rally around much like Star Wars and Star Trek. Having something that fans of Science Fiction in general can get behind will infuse a freshness to it. My hope is that The Jupiter Chronicles will be a means to that.
How did Mike Halsey and the Magnetic Dreams team get involved? I live in the Nashville area which is known primarily for music. What is not known is that there is a robust group of writers and filmmakers that live here and call Nashville home. I had always wanted to work with a studio that was located here because I believe in being relational in what we’re trying to do. I loved what Mike did with Iron Man: Extremis and Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers so I shot him an email and asked if he’d take a look at the JCU package and I’m grateful that he took the time. After he read through the material he contacted me and was very gracious in how much he loved the richness of the universe created for the property. Mike has been involved in the industry for a long time so I took his advice seriously when he suggested we launch a Kickstarter campaign and well, here we are.
How has the creative process for the animated short differed from writing the books? Writing terminology dubs succinctness in writing as an “economy of words” and that is very much so in a short. In essence, you have to familiarize your audience with a fully developed universe in four minutes or less, while showing character development, angst, conflict and resolution. That’s not easy to do in four minutes.
The Jupiter Chronicles Kickstarter will provide funds for various parts of production. How does it feel to start seeing the characters you created for the page coming to life before your eyes? I told Mike this because it’s true. The characters that he and his team have fleshed out are better than I imagined them to be. Seeing them come to life pushed me into a transition from creator to guide and daunting spectator. I say daunting because it’s now a shared universe that is not mine anymore. There are other people involved in charting the course for this vessel and I have to be willing to submit to the winds that will carry it to where it should naturally go. There are people involved who have certain jobs and know their jobs well and I trust them in their expertise. People like Mike and yourself when it comes to getting the word out. For so many years, I’ve worked alone in trying to accomplish all things for this series. It’s a relief to know that I’m not alone anymore.
What inspired you to create The Jupiter Chronicles series?
I love telling this story. I had just published Haven of Dante which is a YA novel about a descendant of Dante Alighieri in present day who is tasked to battle against the nine circles of hell embedded in our society. The book is deep with metaphorical images of trials and failures in the midst of the action. It’s also pretty thick. Exhausted after having finished it, I thought about going back to writing something light and fun. I went back to my first love which was children’s books. I asked my wife (who is a children’s librarian) what need had yet to be fulfilled in children’s literature and she told me that there was very little Science Fiction for reluctant readers. That group did not want to engage in a 500 page book after reading Magic Treehouse. So I started dotting down some ideas. One day I was on my laptop in the living room working on those ideas when my daughter came down the stairs and simply said in her sweet voice, “Daddy, why don’t you write a story about a boy and a girl who rescue their dad on another planet?”
I looked down at what I was working on and thought for a moment.
Then I hit the delete button and started over. The Jupiter Chronicles was born. This one came out of the mouth of my babe.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue anything creatively (writing, film-making, photography, etc)?
I have a drawer full of rejection letters from publishers, agents, etc. that I kept for when I had “the talk” with my daughter of never giving up. I got to have that talk with her just this past year and when I opened up the file, her jaw dropped because there were so many. Now mind you, I have not accomplished everything that I would like to so I have not “arrived” yet but here’s the thing. It’s not so much about the destination but about the journey. Take in all you can along the way. Don’t be too proud to accept criticism unless it is ill-intended and you will know the difference. Don’t expect your work to be a success overnight but most importantly. . .
Don’t ever, ever give up.
Want to help contribute to the making of an EPIC steampunk animated adventure? Visit the Kickstarter HERE.
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