THE MAKING OF A STEAMFUNK FEATURE FILM: The Big Budget Version
I am – at present – writing the final draft of Rite of Passage – a screenplay based on the Steamfunk series of tales, Rite of Passage, which are based on author Milton Davis’ story of the same title.
The movie will begin production in the fall.
Recently, I was asked if I had a budget of one hundred million dollars, who would play the characters in the film. Since my wife has one of the lead roles as Harriet Tubman, I of course said I would keep my wife in the role of Harriet Tubman – for one, I don’t feel like sleeping on the couch; secondly, I honestly feel she has the look, toughness and movie martial arts skills required to pull off the role better than anyone else I can think of.
Another role I would not change is that of Dorothy Wright, played by Dasie Thames. Dasie is an exceptional actor and singer with extensive experience on the stage and screen. During our fighting and stunt boot camp – wherein we teach actors to look like warriors, soldiers, assassins and professional fighters; and professional martial artists and fighters to modify their techniques so they look good on camera, or before a live audience – Dasie picked up fight choreography with ease and, within just two hours of the camp, she was convincing as a character who had received several years of hard training in the martial arts.
As for the other roles, after long contemplation, I came up with a list.
I give you my Rite of Passage Dream Team and a peak into the main and main supporting characters of the very first Steamfunk feature film. Enjoy!
Spy, warrior and hunter of monsters and men who even monsters fear. Harriet Tubman is a conductor for the Underground Railroad, which, in the world of Rite of Passage, means she has powers, skills and access to technology far beyond the average person.
Harriet Tubman is iron-fisted mentor to the likes of John Henry and Sherlock Holmes and is self-appointed protector of the town of Nicodemus, Kansas – a western town established by African-Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the American Civil War.
ACTOR: Iyalogun Ojetade
Bass Reeves’s life story is a true saga of commitment and contribution. It is a real Wild West story that very few fiction writers could have ever imagined. Bass Reeves’s law enforcement career was a testimony to a life of truth, honesty, and justice.
A badass of the highest order, Bass Reeves became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38. During his 32-year career as a Deputy Marshal, Reeves was responsible for the arrest of 3,000 violent felons and for killing 14 outlaws, without ever being shot.
Reeves possesses uncanny skills of detection and investigation, an acerbic wit and three firearms – a Sharp’s carbine and a pair of Colt revolvers – that enable him to kill the unkillable.
ACTOR: Jeffrey Wright
Admit it; like me, you’ve always wanted to see the Steel Drivin’ Man kick more than just a steam-powered hammer’s ass. Many an author, comic book creator and Steampunk have re-imagined John Henry’s story and in every one, I bet mountains of opened cans of whoop-ass abound.
In Rite of Passage, John Henry has a dark past, a tortured present and an epic future.
He – and his hammers – thirsts for battle and as guardian of the town of Nicodemus – a seeming magnet for trouble and weird happenings – his cup runneth over.
ACTOR: Mehcad Brooks
A student of Harriet Tubman, who helped her escape through the Underground Railroad, Dottie trained diligently for years in the arts of combat, espionage, survival and escape. Dottie – now Dorothy – has become quite the soldier and freedom fighter in her own right and possessor of an ancient artifact that gives her some extraordinary abilities.
ACTOR: Dasie Thames (Dorothy); Sydney Park (Dottie)
Mr. Ross – hired gun for ruthless businessman, P.T. Barnum – spent years as Allen Pinkerton’s executive assistant (i.e. corporate spy and fixer) before hiring himself out to the highest bidder. Skilled in investigation, assassination, provocation, interrogation and a host of other useful “ations”, Ross is one of the most valued – and feared – “fixers” in America.
A keeper of his clients’ secrets, Ross, ironically, must keep a secret of his own; a secret that – if told before its proper time – could destroy us all.
ACTOR: Nathan Fillion
Beautiful, brilliant and wise, Lana is a woman John Henry could fall for, if she didn’t scare the hell out of him.
Lana is like a drill sergeant on steroids, but to make a man as hard as steel, can you be anything less?
ACTOR: Regina King
Mysterious; unstoppable; powerful beyond measure. This description just scratches the surface of who – or what – this ebon-skinned giant is. Harriet Tubman’s teacher and friend and guardian of one of the oldest and most powerful artifacts on the planet, Akingbe has lived several lifetimes and fought countless wars.
Battle hardened and world weary, Akingbe seeks to pass his burden on to another poor soul.
ACTOR: Djimon Hounsou