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£2,636 pledged of £85,000 goal
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By Steve Turnbull
£2,636 pledged of £85,000 goal
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About this project

THE LAZARUS MACHINE is a dark Steampunk story set in 1911, presented as a complete eight-part webseries. It follows the story of Talia, the daughter of an impoverished and dying Russian scientist, as she tries to bring some normality to their hand-to-mouth existence.

But father and daughter have terrible secrets; they are stalked by criminals; fêted by the British Army; and love threatens to destroy everything.

Do something amazing today

An hour's worth of story. 100% Professional production. 100% Green-screen. 100% Crowdfunded.

Nobody's done it before but do it once and it can be done again. The democratisation of professional quality entertainment. It's happening.

It's new and it's exciting. You make it happen.

What about the steampunk?

  • Tesla? Check.
  • Airships? Check.
  • Brass goggles? Check.
  • Corsets? Probably not on show to be honest.
  • Bustles? Well, bustles were out of style by 1911, sorry. But you can wear them if you like.
  • Automata? Check.
  • Steam-powered heavy infantry? Check.
  • Venusian brain mold? Check. (Venusian brain mold?)

And then there's the interesting bits you've never seen before...

So who's in it? Anyone I've heard of?

Timothy West as Professor Winter. Timothy West is a major British actor  with a career spanning 50 years in Stage, Film and TV (recently in Sky's "Going Postal").

Timothy West
Timothy West

Sophie Aldred as Mary Treacher. Sophie is best known for her role in Dr Who as the 7th Doctor's companion Ace. Since that time she has worked steadily doing audio stories and numerous voice-overs for cartoons.

Sophie Aldred
Sophie Aldred

Gareth Bennett-Ryan as Captain Peter Wenlock. In his short career Gareth has already racked up an impressive range of Stage and Screen performances, and is currently on tour.

Gareth Bennett-Ryan
Gareth Bennett-Ryan

Phil Gwilliam as Belling. Phil's more recent projects have included the feature film Gridiron UK and appearing in Shameless.

Phil Gwilliam
Phil Gwilliam

Deanna Turnbull as Talia Winter. Deanna's work to date has been primarily stage-based and has included training with the RSC.

Deanna Turnbull
Deanna Turnbull

What's with the Numbering Thing?

Every individual reward level will have individually numbered Blu-Rays, so if you're the first person to claim the Deluxe Blu-Ray, and 799 people in total claim that reward your Blu-Ray disc (apart from the label) will say "1 of 799". If your reward also has the music CD then the CD will have "1 of 799" written on it too. Same if it's a poster but we won't write on the model.

Don't forget we will never be selling THE LAZARUS MACHINE on Blu-Ray, and we only have agreements with the bands to let us distribute their music on the rewards CD (and vinyl) and in the show itself - the music will never be released in any other form by us. These offers really are unique.

What's actually on those CDs then?

We contacted the very best steampunk and steampunk-related bands in the world. Every episode will feature one of the following bands or performers, in no particular order:

That's seven bands, aren't there eight episodes? Yes, and we're talking to bands to fill the other slot - so we can't say who until it's sorted.

Original track? Late breaking news! We have agreed with the selected bands (Unwoman, Vernian Process and Sunday Driver) that they will produce original tracks written specifically for the series.

But that's not all: Our redoubtable Music Supervisor and Composer, Chris Gunn, (who worked with us on Monsters) will be creating all the major themes and incidental music. He will weave them into a very special work for the CD.

The music on this CD will never all be in one place again.

So you're offering posters too?

Part of the process in creating this web series has been the generation of concept art by the excellent Mark Molnar and we will be creating large scale prints for you to take away if you choose the appropriate reward. Here's a sneaky peek:

Army Testing Grounds
Army Testing Grounds
The Lab
The Lab
Wine and gun
Wine and gun

And there may be another.

Tell me about these models

Steam Heavy Infantry
Steam Heavy Infantry

We're making items from the webseries using 3D Printers. While a paper printer takes a computer file and turns it into ink on paper, a 3D Printer takes a computer file (of the proper type) and makes it.

And here's an early version of the CGI model from which the physical model will be made:

CGI Walker
CGI Walker

How does this CGI work?

First of all Chris the Director has put together a video explaining how we film the live action to meld with the CGI scenery.

The company that puts all the CGI together (including the Walker model) is HoloMedia. We worked with them when they produced the CGI for our test scene last year. Ben and Christian know their stuff and do major work, so it's great to have them along. Here's a couple of shots from two of their jobs:

Reconstructing Morecambe and Wise for Children in Need on the BBC
Reconstructing Morecambe and Wise for Children in Need on the BBC
Dudley Canal reconstruction
Dudley Canal reconstruction

Final notes on the rewards

  • We will provide the option for requesting a DVD instead of a Blu-Ray if that's what you would prefer to receive;
  • Then we realised that apart from the lowest level of reward we didn't say that every backer would get a credit on the website and in the show credits themselves. You will! In addition we've decided to create a booklet listing all backers that will be sent out with every reward that has an actual physical element.

What does my money buy?

Apart from what's needed to make and deliver the Blu-Rays, CDs, posters and models we need the money as follows:

Studio time takes up a big chunk, the whole shoot for all eight episodes is going to take about 16 days in a green screen studio, which looks like this (they will be painting the walls and floor green):

Island Studios
Island Studios

This is a big studio, but THE LAZARUS MACHINE is not a small project. It's here we create bombed out streets, cities ablaze, Army testing grounds, laboratories in cellars, music halls inside and out. This stage is the world.

Other things are the crew, this is their day job and two weeks is too long for a freebie. Of course the actors are professionals too and will be paid. Then there are the costumes, this is set in 1911 so costumes are important. Catering: we have to feed people, they get antsy when they're hungry.

The Producer, the Writer and the Director are another matter. We're doing it for the love. Break out the violins. (Aren't the Producer and the Writer the same person? Yes, he suffers twice as much.)

What happens if you make more than the goal?

All the basics are covered by this target so we will use extra funds to get the CGI finished more quickly to ensure we deliver on schedule and also for more time in the editing suite so we provide the best cut we can. It also means if we need to do any callbacks (getting the actors back to re-shoot things, or shoot extra things) we can do it instead of having to compromise.

Beyond that we have other Voidships projects in the pipeline: we want to finish our first-person 3D mission-based space game where you play a pilot in space during the war (the prototype exists). There's a planned novel so giving the author some space to write it would help. And we have a feature film script (typical praise: funny, literate, thrilling, and wonderfully inventive) and getting that into pre-production would be amazing. And there are even plans for a "TV series" except it wouldn't be on TV, how about a series of hour-long episodes on the Web?

(On that note, we discovered there is a steampunk book called The Lazarus Machine, by Paul Crilley. This is not the same story but Paul supports our project and we are happy to mention his book.)

Any questions? Feel free to contact us and we'll post questions and answers below.

So, I'll keep this project a secret then?

Please don't do that.

If you think this project is worth achieving, select the reward level you fancy and then tell everyone you know. The lives of actual kittens depend on the success of this project. (You're lying. Shhhhh, they'll buy it!)

Here's the thing: We are completely independent, beholden to no financier, we can tell stories that no one else can tell, there's no one to say to us "oh that will upset the XYZ demographic" well, to hell with the XYZ demographic (But I like the XYZ demographic...).

We're not here to make millions of pounds (Aren't we? No. It'd be nice. Shut up.) We're here to tell stories that only we can tell and that we hope you want to see - and to do it with quality and integrity.

So get on to your facebook account, get on Twitter, get on G+, get on the email, talk to people you meet. Stop strangers in the street and demand they give us money, use threats!

Um. No. Not that last one. Really not.

Just get the people you know to come to this project page and take a look at what we're doing. If they like it they can support it. If not, that's fine too. Ultimately, it's a numbers game. It's the total number of people who arrive at this page that will determine whether we succeed or fail. We're holding up our end, and if you like the look of your end, well, you hold that up. (That didn't come out quite right.)

Tell your friends. Encourage them to look at this page. That's it.

About the Voidships Steampunk setting

Voidships is an entire Steampunk setting which contains multiple stories and ideas. You can find the Wiki at http://voidships.com

There's the full trailer to Winter at vimeo.com/52684386

And if you're feeling adventurous and are interested in stories from a screenwriting viewpoint you can watch a 50min G+ Hangout video where the Writer and Director are interviewed by Hollywood screenwriter Mike Wollaeger. It's a bit ropey at first, this was the first time any of us had done such a thing and the interview contains story spoilers. http://youtu.be/R_Znn41Wmuc?t=36s 

Risks and challenges

It can't be denied that a lot could potentially go wrong on a shoot like this. It's effectively an hour-long TV show being shot like a film on the shortest schedule that can feasibly be allocated. And that's how every film and TV show is shot.

- CG costs may escalate so we have a prioritised list of CG elements: Critical work will be done first, and for the most unique shots we have the option to fall back to simpler (but less impressive) techniques to convey the story.

- Since this is by far the most complex project Director Chris has undertaken there is a risk of overrun. By producing our test scene through to final quality we understand better what can go wrong, and by recruiting an experienced crew several of whom have worked with us before they can help us claw back lost time. When things go off track (as they often do) we will rely on the team's expertise to help us make effective compromises.

- Cast or crew may become ill during production. This happens but having a large shooting block and no reliance on locations means we have the flexibility to reschedule scenes to minimise lost time.

- Expecting the unexpected: We may not have thought of everything when shooting begins. The greenscreen nature of the shoot reduces the amount of physical preproduction required, although we do need a host of small props and furniture. But once again the nature of the shoot means we have the flexibility to reschedule if we need to.

And finally, both the Director and the Producer come from business environments where critical deadlines are absolutely immovable and know how to make things happen despite any obstacle.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.57

    Thank you! You get into the credits and will be listed on the website. Every penny counts because it could be your contribution that tips the balance. Don't forget to tell everyone you know about the project too (especially if you have a rich relative).

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    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    ADVANCE VIEWING: You will get to see each episode a week before the general public. We'll send you a link and a password. (This reward applies to every reward from here on up.) You also get a "Big Thank You" in the credits and on the website.

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    Pledge £10 or more About $16

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: You will be given a unique key to download an HD digital copy of the entire set. Plus you get the Advance viewing option in case you want to watch it online as well. (Well, someone might.)

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    Pledge £15 or more About $24

    NUMBERED BLU-RAY: The Lazarus Machine will never be released for sale on Blu-Ray. The KickStarter rewards are the only time they'll be available. This reward comes in a printed slip-case and each one will be individually numbered. By Hand. So it'll say something like "23 of 867", so get in early for the low numbers. Plus you get the Advance Viewing option just in case you don't get the Blu-Ray in time.

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    Pledge £20 or more About $31

    DELUXE BLU-RAY: This is like the Numbered Blu-Ray above, but it's in a box and will have its own numbering. By Hand. Plus there'll be a leaflet inside with original artwork from the show. You don't get the "Numbered Blu-Ray" with this but you get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case the Blu-Ray doesn't arrive before the show is released.

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    Pledge £30 or more About $47

    DELUXE BLU-RAY PLUS CD: This is amazing. We have some really cool music, both original and from the very best Steampunk and Steampunk-ish bands from around the world. The Blu-Ray is the same as for the "Deluxe Blu-Ray" (with its own separate numbering. By Hand.) But you also get a CD of the music from the show. This compilation CD will never be released together (and it will be numbered too, the same as its matching Blu-Ray). You don't get any of the other Blu-Ray offers with this but you get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case the Blu-Ray doesn't arrive before the show is released (of course).

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    Pledge £35 or more About $55

    DELUXE BLU-RAY + CD + POSTER: This is the same as the "Deluxe Blu-Ray+ CD" but also includes a matching numbered poster of the concept art (you get to choose which one you want later, there are currently three options, there may be more). You don't get any of the other Blu-Ray offers with this but you get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case the Blu-Ray doesn't arrive before the show is released because we really don't want you to miss out.

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    Pledge £35 or more About $55

    3D MODEL! Yes indeedy, you can have a model of a thing from the show, either: an Empire Heavy Infantry Steam Walker; a Royal Navy Voidship; or one of the Professor's Automatic Infantry (one of those soldier automata from the concept art). You don't get a DVD offer with this but you do get the "Advanced Viewing" option because otherwise it wouldn't be fair. (This model is not painted.)

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    Pledge £40 or more About $63

    BLU-RAY PLUS LIMITED EDITION VINYL: This contains the DVD in a printed slipcase and recordings of the same music as the CD (all the songs and the specially composed theme and incidental music) but on vinyl. We will only produce 1000 of these maximum and they will be hand-numbered. You get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case it doesn't arrive before the show is released.

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    Pledge £55 or more About $86

    PAINTED 3D MODEL! This is just the same as the 3D MODEL (and you get to choose the one you want) but it comes hand-painted. You don't get a DVD offer with this but you do get the "Advanced Viewing" option because it wouldn't be fair otherwise.

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    Pledge £60 or more About $94

    DELUXE BLU-RAY + CD + POSTER + 3D MODEL: Bet you can't guess what you get with this option? You guessed! And we'll number the Blu-Ray+CD combo. You can choose the poster and the model (we do that later, after we succeed). You don't get any of the other Blu-Ray offers with this (or any other Model reward) but you get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case the Blu-Ray doesn't arrive before the show is released because we love you very much.

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    Pledge £80 or more About $126

    DELUXE BLU-RAY + CD + POSTER + PAINTED 3D MODEL: You choose the poster and the model (we do that later, after we succeed) and the model will be hand-painted. Blu-Ray+CD individually numbered naturally. You don't get any of the other DVD offers with this (or any other Model reward) but you get the "Advanced Viewing" option just in case the Blu-Ray doesn't arrive before the show is released because we love you very much.

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    Pledge £300 or more About $471

    BE AN EXTRA: You get the £80 reward plus you can be an extra in a scene, get an onscreen credit and receive an IMDB credit (if you want it). You will need to be able to come to the set during the shoot on a specific day or days (we're shooting in Manchester, UK, late May for two weeks). And you can come to the premiere (this will also be in Manchester) but we cannot pay for accommodation.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,570

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: You get everything from the £80 reward (x2) plus individual onscreen credit as Associate Producer and an IMDB credit (if you want it). And you can visit the set whenever you like during the shoot (we're shooting in Manchester, UK, late May). You can come to the premiere of course (this will also be in Manchester) and we will pay for hotel accommodation for two.

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    Pledge £5,000 or more About $7,849

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: You get everything from the £80 reward (x5) plus individual onscreen credit as Executive Producer and an IMDB credit (if you want it). And you can visit the set whenever you like during the shoot (we're shooting in Manchester UK, late May). You can come to the premiere of course (this will also be in Manchester) and we will pay for hotel accommodation for two for two nights.

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Funding period

- (30 days)