PROGRESS – a new “steampunk” series about one of history’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Premieres soon.

Jack The Ripper, one of history’s most notorious murderers, terrorized Victorian-era England in the 19th century, and to this day, his true identity remains a mystery. It’s a story that has been told in many ways throughout the ensuing decades, from movies (including the 2001 Johnny Depp film FROM HELL, and the 1988 TV miniseries starring Michael Caine as the man who pursued Jack The Ripper, among others), to various books and TV programs on the subject. In PROGRESS, a new, 10 episode “steampunk” web series produced by Nicole Wright and Armando Saldanamora (who also writes the show), directed by Brad Strickman, and set to debut sometime in June of this year, the shocking story is told in a new and innovative setting – a parallel universe where in the 19th century, steam powers computers, telephones, and telegraphs.

It’s a universe where England’s greatest hacker, Oscar Lewill (played by Ben Whalen), attempts to solve the identity of, and to capture, the infamous killer, who posts files containing evidence of his crimes on a site that Wright describes as the 19th century version of Wikileaks, the controversial web site that garnered major news coverage because of the U.S. government’s pursuit of its founder, Julian Assange, for leaking classified documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to the site. The cast also includes Rebecca Lynch as Lila DeClide (a Victorian cam-harlot), and Derek Houck as Rhett, o ne of the many trolls that abound on the steam-powered web, along with British comic Andy Pandini as Mr. Humbbaugh, England’s loud and opinionated political radio talk show host, and Kai Cofer as Scotland Yard constable Mr. Alben Scot.

PROGRESS is one of many web series in the “steampunk” genre, which Saldanamora describes as “retro science fiction in the style of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells. Imagine all the things you have today made with the technology of a hundred years ago.” The show’s emphasis on its unique setting, and its technology, is what sets the show apart from the others, Wright says, not to mention that the story itself is inspired by today’s headlines, including the Wikileaks scandal. “The setting of PROGRESS is very real. Most steampunk series deal with fantastic themes and impossible adventure, but PROGRESS revolves around a guy who uses his computer to open a file and share it with the world. Now his life is in danger, the law is after him and everybody wants him dead! If you don’t think that’s an everyday scenario, just read the news.”

Saldanamora was also inspired by technology’s prominent role in 21st century life to create PROGRESS, and to create the unique atmosphere of the series, a setting described by Wright: “They actually had steam-driven computers on the 19th Century (like the Difference Engine) and they were connecting the world through telegraphs, telephones and what not. They were breaking every barrier imaginable and challenging all sorts of authority, so having those magnificent men hacking into computing machines just comes out naturally.”

Saldanamora and Wright, both veterans of film and TV production, found their cast and crew through both the Internet, and more traditional sources, but it’s the web, Wright says, that is the entire backbone of PROGRESS’ social media operation, including its IndieGoGo campaign. “Not only do we have a Facebook and an official Twitter for the series, but our characters also have their own Twitter accounts… Lila has a lot of fans!” In spite of the technology, and its unique setting, Saldanamora says that PROGRESS is, most importantly, about someone who we can all relate to: an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. “This is a story that you can identify with. The hero is not a rich aristocrat or valiant explorer, but a regular working-class Joe with a job behind a computer who feels the world is closing upon him.”

The show’s IndieGoGo campaign can be found here: