ALTON TOWERS

Production Design by Bruce Hill.

This commercial was shot some time ago to advertise the opening of their new hotel. At the time the hotel was not finished so it was decided to build a model of the interior for the film. This would include a ship built within the model’s central atrium.

As the commercial had to feature some of the theme parks major assets the shoot was divided into three sections. First were background plates of the gardens, rides and shows, in November. Second was a studio shoot filming model interiors and sets, December, and third was another shoot at the real hotel filming exteriors prior to the hotel being finished, February. On the initial recce I was to get as much information as possible about how the hotel interior would look when finished, I remember walking around a building site and yet I was to reproduce a model of the perfectly finished hotel. All I could do was get a copy of the architectural drawings plus specifications which due to it’s complexity required me to build a model of the model to work out the shooting angles and brief the modelmakers, this took a week on it’s own!

Troika, the modelmakers were eventually able to start, as from my initial model, a scale could be calculated for the actual set model (ironically dictated by the size of the lamps). A straightforward location shoot was followed by the studio sets (where the background plates would be used) and the model required some alterations because I was given an outdated set of drawings! This was mainly just interior furnishings and curtains, though they were all specially made.

When we finally went back to film the hotel exterior it was February and snowing. The fountain at the entrance was frozen solid and we couldn’t even use salt to melt the ice because of possible drain damage. We hired some hot water jet sprayers to clear the snow and ice and at 3.00pm (just before dark) the snow eventually stopped falling, allowing me just enough time to dress fresh plants and flowers around the entrance and the shot was achieved. The only thing we couldn’t do was to get the snow off the roof of the hotel, which was later done, in postproduction. Unfortunately there was frost damage to many of the plants I rented due to their half hour of extremely cold exposure!