The multi-million pound development of Elstree Studios to provide new media facilities for the film and television industry continues with completion of the mound clearance nearing completion.  The contractors have found unusual things buried on the site but no sign of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars which was rumoured to be buried up there.

However, the other day contractors found numerous bags full of white powder.  The contractors decided to have this white powder analysed.  It was discovered that this white powder was in fact fake snow.  The last time fake snow was used in this area was for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining which was over 34 years ago.

“Part of the hotel front was re-built on the lot at Elstree Studios on scaffold; for the winter-scene a huge amount of artificial snow was added using formaldehyde based foam, which hardens when in contact with air, and was then covered with salt in order to obtain a realistic crystal effect.

“By now the “snow” may well have pulverised after 34 years. This was relatively easy, the real problem was adding artificial mist to give the image a mysterious glow – this thin vegetable smoke was subject to be blown away in seconds in case of the slightest bit of wind. No wind and good luck is part of film-making.  The whole area was covered in fake snow for the filming.”-  Jan Harlan, Executive Producer on The Shining

The Shining follows the story of Jack Torrance – played in the movie by Jack Nicholson –  who arrives at the Overlook Hotel as winter caretaker, with the aim of using the hotel’s solitude to work on his writing. The hotel is built on the site of a Native American burial ground and becomes completely snowed in during the long winters. As a result the Hotel is closed from November to May and the horror begins…

Photographs courtesy of Elstree studios with thanks to the University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre.

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