The steam punk adventure series ‘The League of Steam’ was the series I watched this week for #WebSeriesWednesday. The 19th century ‘Ghost Hunters’ documentary style perfectly exemplifies the inherent contradiction that has made the steam punk genre so successful.
The first thing I noticed when watching the show was the level of detail available in the props and locations. A lot of web series and low budget productions use green screens to create interesting, if not realistic backgrounds, but part of the steam punk appeal is this hyper-real environment.
By hyper real I mean that the audience can see every little detail of how things work, to the point that it becomes clear that the objects cannot physically work that way. This is sort of the opposite of the sci-fi genre where technology is obscured to the point where the audience simply goes with it.
The League of Steam features a bunch of cool weapons, my favorite being the 70 pound ‘Steampack’ worn by Crackitus, the main character. The Steampack is like a wooden version of the packs from Ghostbusters, but you really just have to see it in action to understand. Other weapons include various pulley and lever based machines, things you crank, steam based projectile weapons (spud guns!), various traps, and a few blunt objects – not to mention generous helpings of crosses, holy water, and other genre standbys.
The League’s channel has close to 9000 subscribers and over 600,000 total views. A pretty solid success for a web series. I chock a lot of that up to the elaborate production and witty writing, but the series has really done a good job of cross promotion and fan relations.
The series has a bunch of guest appearances like Grant from Mythbusters, Robin Thorsen from The Guild, Doug Jones who you may recognize from a couple of Guillermo del Toro films in Pans Labyrinth and Hellboy and of course my doctor friend’s secret crush Lisa Foiles as a mermaid.
They also recently did a video with Epic Meal Time and worked with Panic! At the Disco. These things are by no means requirements of web series but they go a long way towards getting a show out to another audience that may not have heard of it before.
The show is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and visits a bunch of cons. They have a ton of cool merch too. Keeping right on the pulse of fans is a great way to encourage loyalty and to have your fans come back for more. Social networks allow you to inform your fans of new videos, news and items for sale. That is key for the tight budgets of web series, and the people at The League of Steam seem to understand that fans follow you for additional content, not just to stay in the loop when new videos are released.
In terms of putting yourself out there, connecting with fans, and doing every little thing possible to make ends meet The League of Steam is on a whole other level. If interested I would recommend taking a look at their press pack available on their website, just to see all the things these people do beyond the web series.
The League of Steam is a good example of what can happen when you combine production values, and enjoyable writing with really good marketing and fan connection. This is something that every web series should be trying to do.