Based at Pinewood Studios near London, the production considered beaches across the UK for the finale. They needed a location with a tidal island and a beach that faced either west or north-west to give them the lighting options they wanted.
Marloes Sands came top of the list due to its dramatic jagged rock formations, as they stand proud out of the sand at low tide.
Bill Darby, Location Manager
Bill Darby was the film’s Location Manager: “Marloes Sands came top of the list due to its dramatic jagged rock formations, as they stand proud out of the sand at low tide. We first scouted the beach in February and shot there in September, so we always knew where we were going.”
Getting to the beach was the biggest challenge. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park maintains 500 metres of footpaths for everyday use, but this wasn’t enough for the amount of crew, equipment and props that the production needed to get onto the sand.
Darby comments: “We built 150 feet of access ramp for 150 horses and all our equipment, tracking vehicles and so on. A local contractor did the work, but after each high tide the end of the ramp was made up again using shingle from the beach and heavy rubber mats – we were very lucky with the weather, but you have to have a bit of luck sometimes.
“At high tide the beach is totally underwater, so the shoot was scheduled on spring tides to maximise the area and amount of time we could shoot on the sands.”
The region is part of the Skomer Island Marine Nature Reserve and the cliff tops are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In total the production spent three weeks in general prep for a five-day shoot.
Working with both the national park authority and The Countryside Council for Wales, the production team minimised the environmental impact of filming. This was particularly important as the region is part of the Skomer Island Marine Nature Reserve and the cliff tops are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In total the production spent three weeks in general prep for a five-day shoot.
The national park authority advises that filming on Pembrokeshire’s popular beaches in the height of the British summer (July and August) should be avoided. These are the busiest times for local tourism and finding accommodation for a large crew could prove a challenge. June and September are much more flexible when booked in advance.
He concludes: “If you’re in the area during the shoulder season you’re of maximum benefit to the local economy – otherwise it’s a fantastic place to shoot with the wildest, most unspoilt beaches in the UK.”
Edwina Hart is Business Minister for Wales: “Not only do these films help promote the stunning and dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Wales to an international audience, but they bring millions of pounds into the economy, provide a significant financial boost to local communities as well as the wider creative industries sector.”
Snow White and the Huntsman started its global cinema roll-out from May 30th 2012.
(Helicopter pilot Marc Wolff delivers aerial shots for the cavalry ride – footage by Bill Darby)
(Still photos courtesy of Bill Darby and Wales Screen Commission.)
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