Saturday, December 28, 2013

Interview with Whitney Beltrán - Tinker Kickstarter

I interviewed Whitney Beltrán about her upcoming work on Tinker, a steampunk web series production currently Kickstarting with a few days left. 

Tell me a little about Tinker - what's it about? 

Tinker is a steampunk adventure themed web series show. It is about a father-daughter duo, Sho and Kimi Tinker, who are savvy inventors in Victorian era alternate history San Fransico. Sho has built a reputation for himself as an incredibly clever engineer, and Kimi is a sort of genius tomboy. Together, they are swept up into a world of intrigue and turn of the century Machiavellian power struggles as old empire and emergent capitalistic entities fight over resources and technology.   
Their adventures range all over, from their native San Fransico to Hong Kong to the British mainland. There are air ships and giant robot fights and organized brothel gangs, spies, assassination attempts (and successes!), romance, action, and needless to say, a lot of danger. There is never a dull moment in Tinker.

What do you think is the most interesting part of Tinker?
I'm biased. I will always go gaga over the costuming on a project like this. Our costume designer is extremely talented and is currently putting the finishing touches on a hand tooled leather corset that is to die for. I basically want to run away with it. However, in reality, probably one of most interesting things about Tinker is its exploration of morality in the face of Western expansion and globalization. Tinker does not take itself too seriously. It's more of a romp than a thinker, but the undertones are there. 

How did you get involved in Tinker?

Well, I tend to have my fingers in a lot of cookie jars. I was NPCing for a LARP that was going on as part of a fundraiser benefit that an education non-profit, Seekers Unlimited, was putting on in L.A. I made friends with one of the other NPCs, who happened to have a role onTinker. At the time they were looking to fill a number of roles, so she arranged for me to visit the studio. I read some sides for the producer, and I landed the role of Elmira Perkins, who happens to be one of the nefarious spies!  

Do you enjoy working on indie productions? If so, why?
Absolutely. I do a lot of script work and setting development as well as acting, and big Hollywood is awful about crushing creative sovereignty. At the major production houses pretty much everything is decided by a committee of business school graduates. It's very frustrating. Working with smaller studios is more like working with a family, and negotiating with creative ideas becomes a lot more enriching.    

Do you think the diversity of Tinker is important? Do you think it was a conscious choice?
The racial diversity of the cast of Tinker is off the charts. It's one of the things that makes me most proud of being a part of this production. I am of biracial Mexican-American heritage. I often struggle to find roles. It is common that the roles I am suited for call for white women. I constantly have to think to myself, "Am I white enough to get away with this?" Sometimes I am, and sometimes I'm not. Being on the set ofTinker is a breath of fresh air. I don't have to worry about the color of my skin and whether or not I stand out.
It's also really significant to me that the main characters are Asian and not white. It is the norm in Hollywood that racial minorities are relegated to supporting roles. This is especially significant because this is a steampunk production, which necessarily carries strong elements of imperialism and colonialism. It would have been really easy to stick with a homogenous cast. Instead, our executive producer, Micheal Taglianetti, insisted on a racially diverse cast. So yes, it was a conscious choice. 

What are you looking forward to most in the project?

I don't know if I should tell you this! There is going to be an episode that involves live zebras. I am really looking forward to hanging out with zebras. I've never gotten closer than being at the zoo before. I just hope they don't bite. 


Thanks, Whitney, for your interview and time! Go check out Tinker's Kickstarter if you want to learn more!



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