Arms Race: Escalation Press Release

Giant Robot Invades Norfolk Beach!


Arms Race Escalation – A series of short films by It’s a Trap!
Preview/Press Screening and Photo Opportunity
Saturday 10 November, 11.30am

Cinema City, Norwich

Following the success of their short film Arms Race, local film-makers It’s a Trap!   unveil their latest offering; a short, follow-up series Arms Race Escalation.

Their first film Arms Race, was made on a shoestring by a group of friends in their spare time – little did they realise how much its reputation would take off.

First the film was snapped up by the Adelaide Film Festival in Australia in March 2011, who showed it as part of their Steampunk Spectacular – if you are not familiar with steampunk, imagine sci-fi, Victorian-style.    In April 2011 it was showcased at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival followed by a screening at the Balticon Film Festival in Baltimore, USA. Then in April 2012, American cult band Abney Park  requested  the use of clips from the film in their latest Music Video – Steampunk Revolution.   The team have just received a further request to screen the film at Phoenix Comicon, Arizona, USA, in May next year.

Over  80,000 YouTube hits later, the team have got together again to do something altogether more ambitious. Continuing the theme of the first short they have put together a mini-series consisting of six, five-minute episodes which include a host of special effects, explosions and of course, giant robots!

Without any funding, every one of the 45 + people involved, generously gave their time and expertise for free with the meagre budget for necessary spending coming out of the director, Nigel Clegg’s own pocket.

Filming was a lot of fun, but a lot more hard work, with one weekend on a freezing cold beach, another spent building the rudiments of the cockpit of a zeppelin in the script-writer’s garage and another running around in the pouring rain in private woodland in North Norfolk. This has been followed by months of work, editing and creating special effects.

Now the team are looking forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, with the preview screening on 10 November followed by release on Youtube.

To see the trailer for Arms Race Escalation visit

To see the original Arms Race film visit

To see the Abney Park music video visit

Comments on Arms Race:

“One of the craziest shorts I’ve ever seen! Well done, that was really, really well shot and edited. Zulu meets Metropolis via Dad’s Army…or something. Anyhow, congratulations!”

“Brilliant…. very Terry Gilliam.”

“Finally! I’ve been waiting ages for this and I’ve got to say I’m not disappointed! This short film was amazing– I’ve never come across steam punk before but I think it’s a brilliant idea.”

“Bloomin mental! In a completely positive way. Well done guys!”

And my personal favourite:

“Skikkelig imponerende!”


Press/media enquiries:

For press tickets for the screening, or more information contact James Harvey on

For more information about It’s A Trap! visit their website

Art department: Building the armoury

In today’s guest post, director and art department lead Nigel Clegg writes about the experience of creating an army’s worth of weapons, devices and costumes for the web series.

The original Arms Race short film largely came about because I built the brass gatling gun, ‘Mrs Caruthers’, and then wanted to make a short film to show case it, so the props have driven the story to a large extent right from the start.  It is an odd way to put a story together, but in this case worked. When we decided to put together a web series to follow on from the original Arms Race short film we knew that props would form an important part of both the story and pre-production preparation.  To produce a steampunk project and not spend a lot of time creating props would have been a mistake, as the hardware is an integral part of the genre.

As part of the brief for the web series our scriptwriter Chris Burdett was asked to try to include at least one new steampunk device in each episode and to make sure the props were integral to the story.  As soon as the first draft of the scripts were finished the prop building started.  We had built in quite a lot of lead time into the schedule before we planned to film as there were a considerable number of props to build.  The original plan was to get several people to build different props but due to time constraints and availability I had to build the majority.

All of the prop builds started with gathering together the raw materials.  We knew what props we wanted in terms of the story and that influences their functionality, but the look and the exact details were left open.  This is largely because to maintain a Victorian look to the props we needed old brass objects to act as the focus for their construction.  I spent many weekends  going to car boot sales and flea markets to see what was available.  Car boots sales are usually very cheap but it can take a while to find the right objects.  Flea Markets often have better choice but can cost a lot more.  By being flexible for all of the prop builds it allowed me to create items based on what I could find, rather than requiring specific items to be hunted down and bought (which would have been the more expensive way of doing it).   The web series was entirely self-funded by It’s A Trap so costs were an issue throughout the production process which affected the money available for prop building.

At an early stage it was decided to film the prop building process, the main reason behind this was that it would be useful additional material to help promote the series, but in many ways has become a feature of its own.  We took a simple approach; at each step in the building process stop and film a short description of what was done and describe what the next stage would entail.  These sequences were then edited together to produce 2 – 5 min short making of videos.   Judging from the reaction from the viewers on our YouTube channel these are proving useful both to keep people interested in what we are doing but also to give people ideas for their own projects.

All of the builds and the associated filming were done in a small back garden and shed.  This is not the ideal environment, as the space was extremely limited, but did have the advantage of allowing me to work from home and in any spare moments run out to the shed to add extra layers of paints or glue the next components together.  I can only guess what the neighbours were thinking.  A workshop would have been useful, and with more space several projects could have been worked on at the same time, but with the financial and time constraints that we had that was not possible.

One of the main learning experiences in terms of props that we got from filming the Arms Race short film was that the quality of the props, especially the fine detail, should be determined by how close up that prop would be filmed.  Several rifles were constructed for the very short battle scene that we filmed for the Arms Race short film.  I spent a lot of time adding fine details to the guns and painting them, none of which you can see in the film.   This affected my decisions on how much time to put into the detailing for the new props.  A hero prop that is going to be handled and viewed close up needs more detail than background props.

We also learnt from the original short film that any workings for a complicated prop are likely to become a problem during filming.  When you least want it to stop working is precisely when it will conk out.  During the shooting of Arms Race Mrs Caruthers decided to play up: the drill battery powering the gun ran out of power (even though it had been charged up the night before) and the barrel heated up through over use and started to bend due to the heat.  Unfortunately as the prop builder it meant that I had to repair the prop, which caused problems as I was also directing the short film.  When you have only one day to get all the filming done, this can become a big problem.  To help avoid this problem for the mini-series I decided to both enlist the help of two other prop builders to be available during filming to repair any damaged props and also to make all the props as rugged as possible.

The script called for several battle scenes with extras falling repeatedly, so the props had to be tough enough to be thrown around and still be available for use later in the filming.  Most of the props survived intact, a few were broken but running repairs kept them available for use throughout the whole 9 day shoot.  I was surprised based on how much some of the props got thrown around how well they survived.   To be clear, this wasn’t misuse of the props, as to get a convincing fall or death scene the props were always going to be abused and thanks to the lessons learned from the short film, filming of the web series was not held up due to problems with the props.  As with all of our films this has been a learning process for me and I would have built some of the props differently after seeing them in use, but that is part of the fun of prop building, working out how to do it better next time.

Check out our YouTube channel for lots more behind-the-scenes prop building guides!