On location with Snow White and the Huntsman

Scenes from Snow White and the Hunstman

Frensham Ponds in Surrey took centre stage in the filmSnow White and the Huntsman, a Gothic re-imagining of the classic Brother’s Grimm fairytale, Snow White.

A classic tale re-imagined

Released in 2013 with a host of stars in the lead roles, including Oscar winner Charlize Theron as the evil queen, Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth as the Huntsman and Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Frensham Ponds was transformed into a medieval fishing village for the Hollywood blockbuster.

In this big screen adaptation of the story, Snow White is tough warrior princess, with a huntsman (hired by the evil queen) on her tail. But when the huntsman and Snow White come face to face, allegiances change and an epic quest to vanquish the evil queen begins.

Working with a film crew

One of the most dramatic battles takes place at the childhood home of Snow White, a quaint fishing village on the shores of a lake. This village was in fact built on the shores of Frensham ponds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), no less.

Tim Mockridge, one of our rangers, describes what it was like to be involved with the filming:

'A production team of about 800 came to Frensham and spent two and a half months building the medieval style village on the banks around the pond.

'Once construction was complete the actors, including Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth arrived on set. The nine days of filming that followed included fierce fighting and ended with the village burning to the ground. As you can imagine it’s not every day we ‘burn’ one of our sites, especially one as ecologically important as Frensham. Working with Natural England we produced an Environment Impact Report and this helped managed the impact of the shoot.

'Thankfully the controlled gas fire (the timber-like village dwellings were made of fire retardant plaster with gas cylinders tucked inside) went off without a hitch and although the village burned for three nights and could be seen for miles around, the site was unharmed by the shoot.'

Star role helps conservation work

Every film shot at our places or land generates income for the place in which it was filmed. And thanks to Snow White, Tim and his team have been able to carry out essential work to protect and safeguard Frensham, including bank revetment which prevents the banks of the pond eroding and the replacement of old and damaged fences.

The local community benefited from the shoot too, especially film production students from the University of Creative Arts in Farnham who were able to tour the set and meet the cast and crew.

Filming also took place at Cathedral Rock in the Lake District and Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where the crew spent an entire week filming Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman and their rallied troops during an epic battle.