UK’s world-class production talent ventures Into the Woods

US audiences can expect an extra present this Christmas Day with the release of Disney’s Into the Woods, a musical re-imagining of the Brothers Grimm’s stories based on the Stephen Sondheim stage musical of the same name. The film creates an immersive fairytale world, benefiting from the UK’s world-class production infrastructure, and is already gathering acclaim, receiving three Golden Globe nominations.

The film was directed by Rob Marshall, who was making a welcome return to these shores, having previously directed Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Weinstein Company’s musical, Nine, in the UK.

Into the Woods shot primarily at Shepperton Studios, utilising six of the 15 stages offered by the facility, as well as its expansive back lot. Part of the Pinewood Studios Group, Shepperton not only offers cutting edge sound stages, it also houses post production facilities, water filming facilities and workshops, meaning almost any production can be brought to life there.

Witch location to choose

But not all of the stunning settings seen in the film were constructed at Shepperton, with Into the Woods also taking advantage of some of the unique architecture and scenery found in the UK. Winchester’s Waverley Abbey, Kent’s Dover Castle and the Oxfordshire village of Hambleden provided ready-made fairytale locations, while the production team also visited the sweeping expanses of London’s Richmond Park.

The film showcases some of the UK’s exceptional acting talent, with James Corden and Emily Blunt taking centre stage, along with veteran comedian Tracey Ullman. Behind-the-camera, the production benefited from the expertise of UK producer Callum McDougall and co-producer Angus More Gordon working alongside Production Supervisor Hannah Godwin, recipient of the British Film Commission Rising Star Award at this year’s Production Guild Awards.

UK talent far from Grimm

Beyond the film’s crew, the skill and diversity of the UK’s production infrastructure can also be evidenced by the companies on hand to provide their services notably, in this case, the soundtrack recording.

With the film centring around Sondheim’s musical numbers, securing some of the UK’s notable sound talent was imperative. BAFTA winning Sound Re-recording Mixer Mike Prestwood Smith was given the complex task of bringing together the recorded on-set dialogue and vocals with vocal pre-records produced at London’s British Grove Studios. Emmy winning Music Producer and fellow Brit Michael Higham oversaw the music recording at Angel Studios and Air Studios, also both in London, with the able assistance of Orchestra Arranger Isobel Griffiths.

As with all major productions based in the UK, the BFC was on hand to assist throughout, providing early guidance on key UK crew availability as well as troubleshooting during production.

UK audiences will have to wait until 9 January to see Into the Woods, but with major UK-made productions including Exodus: Gods and Kings (Twentieth Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment/Scott Free Productions) and Paddington (StudioCanal/Heyday Films) currently in cinemas, they won’t be short of things to watch.