Video still for Between The Rubber And The Fist

A triptych of short films about violence in the army.

Between The Rubber And The Fist is three short films which build on the research from our interactive feature film Bloodyminded.

When 1418 Now commissioned us to make Bloodyminded, we wanted to talk to soldiers about combat.  We put a call out on Facebook and seven people kindly agreed to come to Imperial War Museum in London to talk. We were especially interested in the moment when violence becomes inevitable.

In the three gripping stories, veterans give us first-hand accounts of violence in army life and its impact on their mental state. Details of bullying tactics used by NCOs during training, life-changing moments from the centre of a firefight, and coming to terms with a PTSD diagnosis give an insight into the effects of the trauma that service personnel can be exposed to.

The three films are:

A Piece Of Rubber Between The Fist And Their Skin – Interview recorded with a former Lance Corporal in the Royal Pioneer Corps.

They Were Only Scrawny Lads – Interview recorded with Steve Cottam, Sergeant, Special Intelligence Operations.

The Only Thing That Doesn’t Belong To The Military Is Your Fucking Soul  – Interview recorded with a former Lance Corporal in the Royal Pioneer Corps.

Total running time 10mins 30seconds.

Between The Rubber And The Fist premiered at a Facebook event hosted by Imperial War Museum London and Blast Theory called Effects Of Violence: Short Films + Q&A with ex-British Army serviceman Steve Cottam in conversation with artist Ju Row Farr and a screening of Bloodyminded.


Steve is an Ex Military Special Intelligence Operator who served for 16 years on operations in Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Africa and Afghanistan. He is a Hunter on Channel 4’s BAFTA-nominated show Hunted and Celebrity Hunted and speaks regularly about life after leaving the Army, mental health and PTSD.

If you are affected by PTSD here are some links which you may find helpful:

Artists’ Statement

The subject matter in the short films looks at some of the specific experiences by two men while serving in the army.  We know that violence is a part of serving in the military and we know that disciplines and strict protocols are necessary to perform well as a soldier and that this training is designed to keep yourself and others safe.

When we reviewed the interviews originally made for Bloodyminded, we were not only struck by the level of detail described, and the honesty of these men, but also by the relevance of mental health and PTSD which they described today.  Mental health issues are often hard to see, easy to ignore.

How can we care for our mental health and others whilst accepting that some of what we do in our lives, in our work, can make our mental health and our wellbeing harder to balance? And what role does bravery play in all of this?

Despite the progress we have made with mental health it’s still really hard to talk about and I am especially grateful to Steve for talking so openly and bravely about his service and its impact.

– Ju Row Farr

Between The Rubber And The Fist was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary. Led by Imperial War Museum.

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