- Jon Llewellyn works at Snow Enterprise Worldwide, an organization that produces pretend snow.
- A lot of the work helps create winter landscapes for movie and TV exhibits that shoot in summer season.
- “I do not work for a residing—I’ve enjoyable for a residing,” he stated.
This as-told-to essay relies on a transcribed dialog with Jon Llewellyn, a 51-year-old snow venture supervisor who makes pretend snow for TV and movies. It has been edited for size and readability.
I work at Snow Enterprise Worldwide, the place we make pretend snow for all types of film units and extra.
I have been right here the longest aside from the boss. Individuals contact us, we go and have a look at the situation, after which I inform them what’s potential and what’s not.
Earlier than I began working right here I had all kinds of jobs. I attempted engineering. I labored in safety. I utilized for a emptiness on a whim and located myself on certainly one of my early jobs serving to to cowl the entire of Bond Road in London in pretend snow, an accomplishment acknowledged by Guinness World Data.
As quickly as I joined the corporate, I knew I needed to remain—I noticed everybody strolling round with large grins on their faces. In any case these years on the job, I have never misplaced that grin. I do not work for a residing—I’ve enjoyable for a residing.
Individuals name us once they wish to flip a movie shoot right into a winter wonderland, and now we have over 200 varieties of snow for any potential impact the consumer desires
Often, we put a snow membrane on the bottom beneath any pretend snow. That helps defend the bottom, and if the snow strikes, there’s nonetheless white beneath.
As for the core merchandise, the preferred known as SnowBase. It is roughly 80% cellulose and 20% uncompacted paper — this kind takes on water, so it is excellent for that form of discolored “soiled snow” on streets exterior.
Then there are different varieties which are cleaner and smoother. We additionally work with waxy supplies, sprayed on as scorching wax and used to imitate the looks of ice. That is typically how movies shoot icy lakes. We used that approach for “Implausible Beasts,” “Maleficent,” and “Homicide on the Orient Specific.”
For snowballs we use paper snow. Throughout snowball fights, we will make it break or stick with a wall, identical to the actual factor.
There’s a lot selection on this job. I’ve labored for Hollywood motion pictures, Bond movies, Netflix TV exhibits, luxury-fashion manufacturers, and grocery store Christmas advertisements. I’ve additionally dressed large, stately houses for issues like “Downton Abbey.”
There’s a whole lot of secrecy round Christmas TV advertisements within the UK
Individuals discuss, so we use code names to muddy the water. It is saved very quiet forward of launch.
I keep in mind one August doing the 2014 Christmas advert for the retailer John Lewis — which is virtually an annual custom within the UK — and protecting a hillside in pretend snow. I bought to go sledding in summer season in England. In what different jobs are you able to do this?
I am a giant sports activities fan. In 2021, I labored on the Sports activities Direct vacation advert. Being on set with footballers like Jack Grealish, Jordan Pickford, and Mason Mount was nice, they usually have been all so beautiful. Persons are at all times fascinated by what the “snow” is manufactured from.
One yr, I labored on a Robbie Williams’ Christmas music video, so there I used to be, in his backyard, making it snowy.
The cleanup may be onerous work. We have now to ensure we do not go away a hint behind. It is painstaking, however with the proper merchandise and the proper prep, you are able to do it simply.
Just lately, we cleaned up this complete space of pretend snow on a shoot in Eire. The very subsequent week, it snowed for actual. It regarded precisely the identical.
It is fairly comical as a result of the Christmas advertisements should be shot forward of time. The earliest one I did was in January, they usually had the thought of feeding the crew Christmas dinners, barely a month after the actual factor.
However many of the vacation advertisements are filmed in the summertime months. We attempt to conceal the recent flowers. And also you get actors carrying these large duffle coats or tweed outfits getting highly regarded and disrobing as quickly because the director says minimize.
I used to be concerned within the movie “Mr. Holmes” a number of years in the past for an ash shoot, and I keep in mind Ian McKellen boiling. They’d followers on set, however you possibly can see he was sweating.
As for us snow technicians, we flip up in shorts, T-shirts, and sun shades — you want them to keep away from complications, because the snow may be so shiny because it displays the summer season solar.
Once you watch your handiwork afterwards, it is onerous to not watch it with a really important eye
I am a little bit of a snow geek. I am at all times in search of my errors, for the way it might be completed higher subsequent time, however I am normally proud of it.
After 15 years, it additionally impacts how I watch different snowy movies. I’ve watched some outdated movies, nice movies, however I am pondering, “Dangle on. That ice is wonky.” The telltale signal is snow going vertical—snow does not go up partitions or up bushes—or foam on the ground that wobbles like jelly. I attempt to hold it to myself, however generally my household can inform it is bugging me.
As for my twins, they cherished rising up with me doing this job. On their beginning certificates, my occupation is listed as “snowman.” However now that they are 13, I feel they get a bit embarrassed by it once they see me on TV speaking about it.
When it snows right here for actual, like just lately the place I dwell in Stroud, England, I am at all times evaluating that with our work and ensuring we’re being as correct as potential.
I went round taking snow photos. However it’s humorous as a result of I assumed it regarded a bit unrealistic on the automobiles, although it was actual snow.