Since Wales is celebrating the Year of the Legends, we headed out to check out some of the epic filming locations in the country. During our rainy, windy spring roadtrip we visited locations from the BBC fan favorites Sherlock and Doctor Who to the popular Welsh detective drama Hinterland, from Lara Croft‘s Tomb Raider and the fantasy adventure Clash of the Titans and more recently, the Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke‘s super sweet romcom Me Before You.
However, one of the biggest additions to our ever-growing location photo collection was the upcoming Guy Ritchie film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
During our almost four years of sceneframing photography we’ve given countless of interviews to the media. The likes of BuzzFeed, Germany’s Stern, UK’s Daily Mail, BBC’s Radio 4, Business Insider and CBS have featured our work beautifully. and they all wanted an answer to this one simple question:
How do you find all the filming locations?
We usually give a simple answer; some locations are easy to find, some not so much. Fansites help, as does Google street view.
In reality, some locations are very much NOT easy to locate. Our work is not always as easy peasy as walking into a café, asking “yo, can we photograph?” or just driving to a street corner based on an address you were given online by a friendly fansite such as Sherlockology or Supernatural locations.
Sometimes, it takes guts, perseverance and a big load of this very silly pride we take in our photography.
(After being called “the best sceneframers in the world” we can’t really lower the bar, can we?)
In the end, locating the exact locations for King Arthur took all of these things.
We were roadtripping around Snowdonia National Park, the incredibly beautiful mountains-and-lakes-and-stunning-nature region in northwest Wales and had decided to check out the locations for the upcoming movie. The thing is, we only had the action-packed, fast-cut trailer and a few promotional photos to go with plus some rumours of the area they’d used while filming.
So we talked to the locals: the friendly staff at Snowdonia Mountain Lodge where we spent a night, some random people we met in the area. We showed them the few photos we had and asked a lot of questions. We looked at maps, satellite images, tourist guides.
The lovely people with Visit Wales took part in our search as well by watching the trailer over and over again, trying to spot something recognizable. But we still didn’t have the exact coordinates. We only had a photo with a rock formation in the background. And even that had some cgi castles added to the side.
So in the end, we just drove around comparing the photo to every single mountain and rocky bump we could lay our eyes on.
It was raining sideways (like literally, sideways, so no raincoat, hood or umbrella helped), we had heavy wind most of the time and we were freezing our asses off every time we spent more than 5 minutes outside of the car.
We had massive regrets over our life decisions (“pfft, who needs hiking boots or raincoats?! We’ll be FINE!”) and almost gave up when our planned time in Snowdonia was coming to an end. We took a drive down an unnamed road, saw some stunning sights and met this mysterious, friendly horse (quite magical, we gotta say) but had no luck finding the right rock.
However, as a screenshot from the trailer clearly showed a famous lake, Llyn Ogwen, in the background, we circled around again to look for the right angle for that one, almost giving up with the King Arthur photo.
“It must be on top of that hill.” we said.
“Jude Law stood on that hill.” we exclaimed.
“Jude Law will do, for now.” we settled.
So we climbed that hill. It was getting dark, we were freezing and we spotted some goats. The wind was so strong that it almost knocked us over several times. Holding up the ZenPad was impossible, so we went with the older one with wider edges on it.
But the angle was right. It had to be: the mountains in the background, the shape of the lake. The only problem was, the crowds in the screenshot were actually standing on water, but we figured it had to be something they’d altered digitally.
We lined up the tablet and wham. We finally had a shot from King Arthur.
As the darkness fell, we had to give up with the Arthur photo and head back to our hotel. We still had a few hours before bedtime and decided to spend it doing something useful: sorting photos and videos, typing up notes about the trip. All of a sudden our Facebook chat box went nuts:
“TIIA. LOOK AT THIS VIDEO. LOOK AT THE ROCK FORMATION.”
Satu had located the right rock. We instantly recognized it. We had it on video and now knew where it was.
So how did we miss it in the first place? Easy. We met the horse. Tiia got excited about the horse. Tiia babbled on and on and on about the horse, while Satu filmed a bit of the road so she could show her mom all the crazy places we saw. And we both missed the rock.
To be fair, it only looked right from a very specific angle. It was smaller than we imagined, and there’s no way we could’ve spotted it from anywhere else. It had to be the little horse road and just the right point of view.
So the next morning we got up extra early (we were scheduled to be elsewhere that day) to make it back to the horse road. We parked the car, climbed up the slight hill and snapped the frame. Talking about success and good luck!
Afterwards, we also posed with our plastic swords. We were following the footsteps of King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) himself, after all.