The Lazarus Machine is a dark steampunk story told in eight episodes, set in an Edwardian Britain on the verge of war.
Talia Winter is an impoverished Russian emigree trying to fend for herself and her dying father, a brilliant scientist. They are stalked by criminals and feted by the British army, who are desperate to get their hands on the Professor’s inventions. But Talia’s family harbours dark secrets and her father has his own agenda – one that takes priority over Talia’s happiness and the needs of the British military effort. When Talia falls in love with a young army officer, she must make an impossible choice between her father and the man she loves.
The Lazarus Machine features everything that’s iconic about steampunk: Tesla machines, airships, brass goggles, automata, steam powered heavy infantry… and Venusian brain mold.
That’s the plot of The Lazarus Machine, but its story starts with a pitch for a TV show…. Here’s how it all began, in the words of The Lazarus Machine’s director, Chris Payne:
“Steve and I met via the http://www.ShootingPeople.co.uk film networking site – Steve was after a director, I really liked his script, and so we collaborated on a mini-pilot for a SF TV show, to help Steve sell the script. That got a lot of great feedback but no bites from the TV gatekeepers, so we decided to bypass them entirely and go direct to a web audience. Steve had a script he’d been working on, and I had a vague idea for a steampunk setting – so we combined the two, and Steve fleshed
out the world into a fully-fledged alternate history. We decided to shoot on greenscreen because it freed us to take the story anywhere – not just places we could get locations for.”
And how does he propose to do that? In the first of a series of videos on the making of The Lazarus Project, Chris explains how to shoot on greenscreen:
The Lazarus Machine – Behind the Scenes of a Steampunk Webseries
But what set Steve off in the first place?
“As a screenwriter generally regarded as ‘competent’ I wanted to move beyond being the bridesmaid in every screenwriting competition I entered. Then I ran into Chris on the Shooting People website and it turned out we have very similar tastes. We produced our Monsters – the SF mini-pilot Chris mentioned – which went well and then decided to do the impossible and produce our own webseries with 100% CGI backlot – the equivalent of one hour of TV. It’s exciting.”