Filming the Race for Science teaser trailer

Race for Science has never been done before.

On the one hand, this means that there is nothing else out there quite like it. When you enter your team into the race, you’re becoming part of an incredible and unique event right at the beginning.

But… it also means that we don’t have any footage of past races to show you how exciting it will be, and we don’t want to spoil the fun by giving too much away!

This is the central issue we had when setting out to film the amazing Race for Science teaser trailer (which you should watch HERE if you haven’t seen it already). We needed to figure out a way to give people a sense of what the event is all about, but not reveal all of RFS’s secrets.

We worked with the wonderful company Raindown who specialise in making videos for the charity sector. Over several months, we went back and forth discussing the atmosphere we wanted for the trailer. We wanted the trailer to be mysterious, suspenseful, but also tongue-in-cheek. As a player, you’re solving a high-stakes mystery, but you’re also having lots of fun! Also, this was very early days for Race for Science, and we didn’t yet have any scientific activities to showcase.

The amazing Paul Chapman from Lockhouse Games (who I chatted with in our last post) agreed to let us film in the science-themed room Armageddon, gave us access to props and put us in touch with some really lovely actors. We thought it might be fun to let you in on our wacky day of filming in Armageddon and across Cambridge. Let’s begin!

Armageddon room at Lockhouse Games

Ellen and I arrived in Cambridge around 10 AM on the morning of the 21st of March – tired but ready to go. It quickly became obvious that because we only had a few actors available for the whole day, I was going to be acting in the trailer. I put on my lab coat and got ready to work!

Our actors in Armageddon were:

  • Paul Chapman: owner of Lockhouse and bona fide legend
  • Mary Emerence: actress and Lockhouse Gamesmaster extraordinaire
  • and me, Jess, (at the time the) Events Intern at Prostate Cancer Research Centre. I’m now the Events Assistant!

    Paul, Mary and I posing in lab coats. I’m taking my role very seriously.

We were able to get loads of great footage of all sorts of scientific paraphernalia: a hand boiler, a virtual reality set, circuits, and more.

Our producer Ben trying to warm up the hand boiler.

Multiple people attempted to warm up the hand boiler for the really cool shot you see at 0:24, but almost everyone had cold hands! we ended up asking one of the other Gamesmasters at Lockhouse, who generously agreed to be in the trailer.

Then it was time to get aerial footage of Cambridge. Paul had to stay and run Lockhouse, so we said goodbye and headed over to Stourbridge Common and met up with Mike Brown, published author, poet, actor and Gamesmaster at Lockhouse. I had never seen a drone in real life before, and it was so exciting seeing the footage!

The drone could only be up in the air for short periods of time to save battery (and money), so each shot needed to be carefully planned.

Screenshot of some drone footage, with special spy graphics!


We had to improvise a lot of gameplay-related dialogue. That you will never hear.

Then we moved on to getting some shots of the three of us dashing around Cambridge, which produced my favourite screenshot of the whole ordeal:

Our director Tom planning his shot.

Honestly, the day was so much fun, and I can’t believe how well the teaser trailer turned out. Every time I show the video to my friends, they all wish they could sign up for Race for Science right now!

Book your tickets for Race for Science now!

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