Dear Friends, let me take you behind the scenes of the blockbuster sensation Narnia, The Dawn Treader. The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of fantasy novels written by author C. S. Lewis and was originally published in 1950. His novels were incredibly popular. They eventually adapted into a stage production and Hollywood films. In 2005, the first film in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released worldwide. It was when the films were released that the Narnia series got its revamp in popularity. The film was a huge box office hit. It was unfortunate that the second movie in the series, Prince Caspian, was not as successful. By the time the third movie came out in 2010, The voyage of the Dawn Treader, popularity had completely dropped off and the movie was a flop.
This truly was a shame as there were still 5 more movies to make in the series. There are rumors that the 4th movie in the series, The silver Chair could be in production in 2021, only time will tell. Perhaps the reason the 3rd movie failed is because Disney dropped off, Disney was only involved in the first two movies. The reason for the drop off is unknown. In this blog I will take you onto the set of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
To find me, look for my Chihuahua's face
The Dawn Treader
I was privileged enough to work in the film industry for many years. Being a part of many productions where I lead the department in hair and makeup. I was the youngest person to be awarded hairstylist of the year at the tender age of 17. Narnia the voyage of the Dawn Treader was filmed at the Warner Brothers Studios on the Gold Coast in Australia. I worked for Warner Brothers for over 5 years. Some of the greatest films came out of these very studios. The way films are made has always fascinated me. Hundreds of hours of blood, sweat and tears go into every scene. The detail in this movie in particular is incredible.
The ship itself is massive, and it is hand carved. The detail in the carvings are just gorgeous. In the movie itself, the camera pans across the ship several times and the grandeur of the ship is breath-taking. Nowadays, many productions are very good with enlarging certain aspects in post production. However, in the Dawn Treader, the set pieces were as large as they appeared in the movie.
The fact that I had worked on so many productions allowed me access to a lot of closed sets. Luckily, the set of the Dawn Treader was open to the public for a limited time after filming was completed. Warner Brothers studios is located in Helensvale, a suburb of the Gold Coast, Australia. It is located right next to Australia's largest theme park chain, Movieworld. Warner Brothers has now been bought out by Village Roadshow.
If you have never walked onto a live set before, it can be extremely intimidating. It is a bustling environment with hundreds of people everywhere not making a sound. Just imagine that millions of dollars are at stake and with every wrong take, money is lost. Of course visiting the set of the Dawn Treader was different, filming was already completed and these props as gorgeous as they are, were no longer needed.
As you walk into the large studio building, the atmosphere is magical, it is as if you have been thrown into another world. The statues are 12 feet tall, they dwarf everyone who walks past them.
The statues are impressive but walking up onto the ship itself was the highlight. The detail is remarkable, there is a scene in the movie where the ship is attacked by a Kraken. The crew who worked on the movie actually broke the side of the ship to expose the wood. No CGI used here, it was all real. In the photo just above, you can see the damaged wood.
The mast was decorated with all the names of the crew who worked on the production. This is definitely a heart-warming touch. You may notice at the end of a lot of movies, there are dedications to crew members who had passed away during filming. This caused a stigma that film sets are dangerous. Truth be told, yes they can be, however, it is purely due to the sheer number of crew working on a production which is behind an occasional un-related death. This is the nicest tribute to crew that I have seen.
When you watch the movie, you can see that arguably the most distinguishing detail of the Dawn Treader is its huge Dragon head bow. This head is detachable and had to be removed so that the ship could fit into the enclosed studio. During filming the roof of the studio was retracted and the Dawn Treader stood tall in her full glory. The studios here on the Gold Coast are actually home to the world's largest water tank. This is why so many sea adventures are filmed at the studios. Movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Pacific Rim, Kong Skull island, Aquaman and Ghost ship just to name a few.
My brother Wayne and I by the Dragon Head Bow
The same had to be done with the dragon tail located on the stern. The dragon tail was detachable and was taken off for storage. Looking at all of these fabulous props, imagine the hours of work that went into these pieces. In my opinion they belong in a museum or at least in an exhibition hall. Unfortunately, the new owner of the studios auctioned the pieces off and kept the cash. I mean in a way, I cant blame him. They were taking up precious space in his studio and the production had left everything behind when they returned to the United States.
We will never know what happened in the end to these gorgeous set pieces that made up the magical adventure of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I hope that in this post I am able to honour the work of the crew. In the age of technology, the fine craftsmanship is lost on modern film sets. There is no need to spend hundreds of hours hand carving something when you can just superimpose it. There is no denying that the technology is amazing. However, it does destroy the fantasy a little bit. There is still nothing like walking onto a set of an epic adventure and losing yourself in the story. Surely this was the goal of C.S. Lewis initially when he wrote the novels.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog on Narnia, Dawn Treader, Gold Coast, Australia, until next time, Vegoutt Everybody!!