RICH INTERVIEWS: Sean O’Reilly Creator Steam Engines of Oz
First Comics News: How did the idea for “Steam Engines of Oz” come into being?
Sean O’Reilly: Like a lot of people, I loved The Wizard of Oz for its wonderful characters. The books by L. Frank Baum covered their further adventures for years after the original, but they still left me wondering, what happened next? Steam Engines of Oz is an answer to that question. Oz has so many steampunk elements, to begin with, and I wanted to turn that up to an eleven in this sequel. I quickly went to the steampunkiest person I knew, Erik Hendrix.
1st: What about “Steam Engines of Oz” makes people love it?
Sean: These are characters people grew up loving, and we left them after this huge personal transformation at the end of the movie. Tin Man got a heart. The Cowardly Lion was given courage. The Scarecrow got his brains. Okay, so what did they do with those amazing gifts?
1st: What is the main storyline in “Steam Engines of Oz”?
Sean: We pick up years after Dorothy’s original adventures, even after Baum’s follow-up books. The Emerald City is in the nickel-plated grip of the Tin Man, who’s taken over and is constantly working to expand his kingdom. Obviously, some people are going to have problems with that and his heavy-fisted ruling forms numerous factions. For me, it’s actually a love story and we take a unique way to get there from start to finish.
1st: Who are the main characters in “Steam Engines of Oz”?
Sean: Our heroine is a brave and clever young woman named Victoria. She works deep in the ‘guts’ of the Emerald City, keeping the machines running and helping the city thrive. She loves her life when we first meet her, but she’s rarely gone above ground and never set foot outside the city walls. There’s a lot for her to learn.
She has friends in the under-city named Mister Digg and Mister Gromit, a pair of fine gents who happen to have bars on the windows and locks on the outside of their doors. They’re kind and resourceful gents who are happy to help Victoria get to the bottom of things, even if it means leaving the city.
There’s also the Scarecrow, the Lion’s Pride (one of the previously mentioned factions), the Munchkins, the Witch of the North and her flying monkeys from the North to name a few more.
1st: How has the Tin Man evolved in this comic?
Sean: The Tin Man’s changed over the years, but in ways that stay true to his character. You can’t get your heart broken if you don’t have one, and the Tin Man’s been through a lot since he got his. What happens if someone follows “only their heart” and do not temper their passion with logic? Well, that’s the question Oz is asking under Tin Man’s heart-driven rule. He’s doing great work and he’s even doing it for the right reasons, but if he could step back logically, he would realize the end does not justify the means.
1st: What prompted you to make an animated movie of the comic book “Steam Engines of Oz”?
Sean: I love making movies. The story was ripe for the telling, and it’s a timeless adventure story. There’s no time like the present to bring it out as an animated feature.
1st: If someone has already read the comic why would they want to watch the movie too?
Sean: Adaptations are always going to have some differences from the source material. Capturing it in a living, breathing medium open up some possibilities that will be exciting to see in motion. Personally, I love reading the ‘source material’ and then following up with the movie. The unusual part of what Arcana is doing comes in the process. We create, develop, finance, produce and even sell the movie from its inception as a comic book. It’s an unusual process and we are very thankful to be in a position to make these animated feature films. While it’s a challenging process, it is a very rewarding one as well.
1st: What was the greatest difficulty you faced in getting this movie made?
Sean: Making a movie is hard. Almost every aspect of it is hard. The creative is the fun part and the part I love the most. Building the financial structure of the film is the first obstacle and usually needs to be accompanied by sales, both of which are very hard and sometimes can take producers years, if ever. Then in production, there are numerous issues including staffing, casting, rendering, compositing, delivery, QC and … well, you get the idea.
1st: How did you get such big stars to do the voice overs?
Sean: We’ve been honored to have Ron Perlman lend his voice to our films before, and Steam Engines is no exception. And it’s been a real treat working with William Shatner! Prior to Steam Engines of Oz I had written/directed/produced Pixies and three Howard Lovecrafts, so we came in ‘with a reputation’ from managers and agents. Luckily, it’s a great reputation and it’s really helped. We make sure everyone is taken care of to the best of our abilities and it really has helped.
1st: How will people be able to purchase the animated movie “Steam Engines of Oz”?
Sean: Like our other pictures, Steam Engines of Oz is available on Amazon.com and other great retailers including Walmart.
1st: What is next for Arcana Studios?
Sean: Hallowaiian comes out on DirecTV Sept 20th. Kai, Leilani, and Eddie run into trouble with Pineapplehead who wants to destroy the island and spilling his evil blight! The cast in this is also phenomenal including Vanessa William, Noah Schnapp, Mark Hamill, Mark Dacascos, and Tia Carrere. It’s going to be a very fun, and spooky, Halloween.
In December we have Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness being released which is the third and final film in the Lovecraft trilogy. Howard’s been through tricky challenges before, but this time the entire universe is at stake! And for the first time, I think ever, we see a massive honest to evil Cthulhu. Standing at 420′ tall this monstrosity needs to be seen to be believed.
1st: If you could visit the world of Steam Engines of Oz would you, and what would you want to see?
Sean: I’d absolutely love to walk the streets of the Emerald City, and go for a stroll on the Yellow Brick Road!
1st: When you’re not working what do you like to do?
Sean: Spend time with my family, go to conventions, and work on the next film. I’ve been crazy-busy. But it’s so rewarding to make something you love. I do have a hard time ‘not working’ though and we’re already knee deep in our next production, Go Fish.
1st: What would you like to say to the fans of “Steam Engines of Oz”?
Sean: Come for the classic characters, stay for the adventure. Plus William Shatner!!