Steampunk was born in the minds of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, who brought us such things as steam power elephants and massive 3-legged war machines. We talk to Christopher Puttock from ‘It’s a Trap‘ about ’Arms Race‘, a Steampunk web series which has seen its success on YouTube.
How did Arms Race come about ?
“The original Arms Race short film (2010) was just us dipping our toe in the water really. We came up with the basic idea for the plot and passed it to our writer Chris Burdett.” Christopher Puttock, It’s A Trap.
“When he came back with armies doing beach landings, mechs, airships and automated bug devices, we put our heads together and decided we could do it all.”
“One of the things we enjoy most about filming a story is overcoming the difficulties posed by a script – not limiting ourselves. It was the first time we’d had the idea to play with Steampunk within a film. It was just about possible at the time, but with quite a lot of work on the special effects.”
“We didn’t realise we were going to tap into quite such a massive audience, although at the time we were just creating something that we wanted to do for ourselves. Once we realised what we had, we soon looked at making the series.”
“This made filming the FX scenes an exciting challenge. We relied so heavily on them working and it meant they were relatively stress free. We had good hands with plenty of experience on set.”
How has YouTube helped Arms Race?
“YouTube is pretty much the reason we did the series.”
“We started making short films because we enjoyed it, not to place them on YouTube specifically. Looking back, without YouTube we wouldn’t have had anywhere to show it.”
“Enthusiasm for a project that will only be seen by maybe a hundred people wanes pretty quickly when it costs as much in time, effort and cash as this one did. However, knowing there is an audience that will appreciate it makes going that extra mile worth the effort.”
“Having a good following on the channel has really helped to boost initial views for our work, which is always encouraging. We’ve also found that this helps to kick start views and in some cases, causes views to snowball. Having a channel as well as a website also lets us get closer to our fans and get feedback from them.”
Does your channel make the series more accessible for fans?
“We want to interact with our fans, get their feedback and also help them with their projects where we can.”
“Nigel Clegg (Director) loves making the props we use and really enjoys sharing this with our audience. We never anticipated the videos being as popular as they are though!”
“Nigel tries to reply to every question regarding the making of the props and even tries to make additional videos when requested. The interaction works both ways. It keeps interest in the channel, easy, yet interesting material to put up in-between completion of projects and allows us to show the bits we wouldn’t otherwise get to show people.”
“As well as giving us the interaction with like minded people, our YouTube channel has also allowed event and convention organisers from around the world (who have screened the original short and aired an audio play we produced) to find our work. With any luck we’ll be approached in the future for similar screenings of the series.”
“We actually received a prop from one of our fans that we used in the series. You can see it at the beginning of episode 2. This was fantastic for us as it made us realise how much we meant to that fan that he would go to such an effort.”
“Anything positive from our fanbase is fantastic, even if it is just viewing what we have produced. It gives us a lot of encouragement to continue making new stuff.”
Has it helped the Brand “It’s A Trap”?
“The channel has been really good for spreading word of our brand and giving us an identity. We’re no longer reliant on our productions alone for our identity now that we include ‘the making of’ and ‘behind the scenes’ videos. Hopefully this is something we can expand on in the future.”
“With regards to the series… only time will tell just how big it will become. Fingers crossed that we continue to build on our following and people engage with other content we release.”
The series is full of epic scenes, which were your favourite?
“This is a difficult one. We tend to focus on things that are the most fun for us – I love it all! If I had to name three, I guess they would be:
The camp attack in episode 4 with all the pyros. It was amazing fun to shoot.”
“We got to work with some really talented people from TLSFx and Savage Media and personally I love doing stunts so any chance to run around with explosions going on will always make me happy.”
“It also makes it great fun to watch. It’s a shame we couldn’t use all of the footage we got for that episode, but if we do get the chance to extend the project, then it will definitely make an appearance in the future.”
“The beach landing in episode one. The ant and the zepplin just look phenomenal and really are the pinnacle of the technology we envisaged for the setting.”
“The dedication shown by the half a dozen extras we had running up and down the beach all day simulating an entire army was astounding.”
“The espionage scene with Sparrow in episode 2. We were really lucky to be able to use Elm Hill in Norwich. When Sparrow approaches the house, it’s just beautiful. The lighting and the acting in the Tsarina’s room really bring out the best in the scene. It was brilliant working with two such skilled actors and the lighting was done by Fast Forward Media, which made it so atmospheric.”
What are your plans for the future?
“No promises as yet, but we are discussing using the footage we have and filming the remaining story. This will fill the gaps and extend the series into a full length feature. We’ll have to see though.”
Thank you to Christopher Puttock from ‘It’s a Trap’. You can view their YouTube channel here.