IGN Reports News From The Set

Posted August 3, 2004 8:16 am by Tirian

In C.S. Lewis’ timeless literary classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the portal to the magical land of Narnia is discovered by four siblings within an old wardrobe in an elderly professor’s country home outside of London.

In director Andrew Adamson’s movie adaptation of Lewis’ beloved book, that entryway into the land of giants and fauns frozen under the icy spell of the evil White Witch is situated in an old equestrian center about 30 kilometers outside of Auckland, New Zealand, one of three facilities being used by the production for various sets (both interior and exterior) designed and constructed for the Disney/Walden Media film.

On Day 18 of Adamson’s epic shoot that began on June 28, the man who made magic with both Shrek films led his cast and crew into Narnia for the very first time as he filmed actress Georgie Henley’s (playing Lucy, the youngest of the four Pevensie children) first footsteps into the sprawling, snowy landscape envisioned by production designer Roger Ford on a set that measures approximately 80x50x18 meters (roughly the same size as the massive James Bond stage at Pinewood Studios in London).

Adamson is mounting his first live-action endeavor in sequence, a rarity in Hollywood filmmaking. Meaning, his first 17 days of production depicted the evacuation of the four siblings from their war-torn London home out to the pastures of rural England (the lush, green hills of the Tahekeroa District some 45 km from Auckland) and their relocation into the plush surroundings of the kindly Prof. Kirke’s Victorian country home (built on sound stages at Auckland’s Henderson Studios), where the youngster Lucy unexpectedly discovers the magical wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek with her family (more on the wardrobe set piece in a later report). Ford even built the interiors of a London train station (patterned after the Paddington station) in an old airplane hangar at the Hobsonville Airbase in West Auckland.

The Narnian landscape is one of over two dozen sets being created by Oscar-nominated production designer Ford, who was inspired by the wintery countryside found when the filmmakers visited the Czech Republic in 2003 in their search for a place to mount the film project (Ireland and Chile were also scouted as possible locations for the film).

The now-defunct riding center had the necessary dimensions for the first Narnian set, christened “Lantern Waste” by the filmmakers. In addition to the creative visions of director Adamson and designer Ford, two other film craftsmen were key in creating the eye-popping magic envisioned by Adamson – head greensman Russell Hoffman, who “planted” almost 200 trees (firs, pines and oaks) to create the dense frozen forest, and special effects supervisor Jason Durey, whose crew dusted the icy snowscape with over 28,000 lbs. of insulating foam, “paper” snow and a detergent (called “Snow Business”) that turns into wet, falling snow when blown through a special compressor.

Adamson and company will continue filming inside the old riding center for about ten days before returning to the Henderson stages. While at Henderson, Ford’s crew (led by supervising art director Ian Gracie) will make some subtle changes to the “Lantern Waste” set to prepare for the first scenes with Jadis the White Witch, being portrayed by renowned English actress Tilda Swinton.

This story was originally published at IGN