Capes, top hats, goggles, and plasma cannons may seem like extravagant outerwear for a Sunday morning, but was in fact the standard at the downtown Phoenix filming of the steampunk miniseries Mantecoza.
Mantecoza is a steampunk/fantasy miniseries in which an ordinary office worker named Sebastian King comes upon a magic ring that transports him from Earth to the fantastic world of Mantecoza. More than two dozen extras came dressed in varying Western, Edwardian, and Victorian style steampunk costumes to fill the marketplace at the Paisley Violin.
"This scene is the entry into the Mantecoza world, into the look and feel of it," says Aaron Ginn-Fersberg, the actor playing Sebastian in the series. "So it's very important and we needed the help of other steampunks to accomplish that."
One such steampunk, Jimmy Garcia, came to the shoot dressed as his character James T. Rickett, a former factory owner with a tricked-out gas mask and a plasma cannon full of vengeance. His character was so eye-catching that the Mantecoza crew featured him as a prominent gadget-seller for the scene.
"Anything steampunk, I want to be in it," says Garcia from behind his appointed merchant table. "I definitely want to watch the show after seeing all this."
Garcia wasn't the only interesting character in the crowd, as the collection of extras also included two Apache Junction gunfighters, a 15-year acting veteran, several members of the Arizona Steamhub Steampunk Society, and a director of the upcoming Wild Wild West Con in Tucson.
And the volunteer facet of Mantecoza doesn't stop with the extras -- as the cast and crew have been working on the project for free.
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The entire Mantecoza production has been in the works for the last six months and on a very meager materials budget. Crew members have made every dollar stretch with shopping at second hand stores and even cruising the likes of Craigslist for free items to be converted into usable items for the show, while they themselves go unpaid.
Creator of the Mantecoza series, Susan Kaff, has relied heavily on the passionate crew members and steampunk volunteers in order to realize her vision.
"I was very up front with the crew and the cast and I said 'Look, every dime I'm not putting in your mouths, is going to go on the screen,'" says Kaff during the shoot. "And I think that has also helped inspire people.... ....I am very fortunate to have such talented actors and cast and crew."
Kaff commented that the cast and crew will be present at Wild Wild West Con in March to promote the series, as well as Phoenix Comicon in May, where she hopes to debut the full episodes of Mantecoza.