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A friend of ours, who shall “remain safely…anonymous,” was able to glimpse many of the stages at Pinewood for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Here is a little bit of proof to give the report the validity it deserves:
One set I saw, another inside set, was the most interesting. Plenty of security. As they were opening a double door (think hanger doors) to remove some set pieces (which were huge) the dark green curtains (like theater curtains) were pulled sideways to reveal something pretty spectacular. Looked like it could have been some sort of Sith set, but this could just be me filling gaps. It was dark grey, industrial looking metal parts, linked to dark grey rock sections (almost like a cave) and a very obvious dark red tone adjacent to all the main parts.
Could this be linked to the special ops Imperials? Some of the ships we’ve been seeing are shiny black with red details, everything from landers to TIE Fighters.
The first set I saw looked like a large snow stage and was absolutely huge. It was all outside and looked like fake snow laid on top of sand, so it could well have been a sand stage beforehand, as some of the fake snow had either melted or just faded.
I’m betting they’re correct, the snow was just put over the sand to keep things moving and minimize clean up. But it is interesting with so much concept art showing the sand planet and the ice planet as interchangeable that I almost want to speculate it snows on the sand planet. Almost…
On the other side of the stage was a huge green screen, say 40m by 10m where presumably they filled the gaps with CGI. The terrain, dare I say it, was Hoth like and had a few elevation changes. I was reliably informed that there were loads of Stormtroopers on there a few weeks earlier (including Bond cast including Daniel Craig dressed in Stormtrooper outfits) and plenty of Star Wars machines.
Throughout filming so far, we have heard that set extensions via CGI was being utilized. With so much of the stages featuring practical sets, no one will ever be able to tell the sets were extended. I hope we get that Bond photo one day. Apparently they are in a battle sequence in the film as Stormtroopers!
Another stage I saw was inside one of Pinewood’s huge “warehouses” and definitely the interior of an imperial ship, perhaps even a hanger, and was very similar in design to the original films in its grey tones and those white upright light sections we’ve seen before in the original movies (all be it not lit). The only difference being the height of the set which was quite high implying it could have been a hanger?
The other outside set was set way back from the largest blue screen in Europe (which was unbelievably big – Google it). This was the hardest one to work out and security were like Nazi’s. The security looked like bouncers and were literally forcibly intimidating us to remove ourselves from the location. The set, from what I could see, looked like either charred remains of something big or a burnt mountain? Lots of pyro going on, smoke etc. Very mucky looking. Pretty exciting.
This I find very fascinating as a lot of the concept art we have seen features the “Darth Bane” looking helmeted bad guy in front a very similar sounding location. The Chrome Stormtrooper Commander also is seen at a location like this as well. However, I mentioned the concept art of Ridley’s character approaching the figure sitting on the throne with flames behind him and the source said “Yes! Very very much like that, interspersed with “star wars metal” if you know what I mean.”
A very cool report from a very lucky person to have glimpsed said pieces. I wish to thank them for covering the sets of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for us all Summer long! We truly appreciate hearing anything from the production.
Savage Daddy points out you can see part of the set here:
Also, for fun:
1) Imperial Hanger
2) Snow/Sand stage
3) Further off shot – destruction/charred remains type of set
4) Sith set