Thor Dark World Locations Manager Interview
Thor Dark World Locations Manager Interview
In the sequel to 2011’s eponymous Marvel film, Chris Hemsworth and his Asgardian crew are back once more in Thor: The Dark World, and this time the film features a selection of locations that maybe more than a little familiar to London audiences. Many London streets and the jewel of Greenwich, The Old Royal Naval College are shown in all their glory as Thor battles to save not only the Nine Realms, but also the home of his mortal girlfriend, Earth. To get to the bottom of how London got cast alongside the likes of other British stars such as Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins, View’s Matthew Turner spoke to Thor: The Dark World’s locations manager Emma Pill about her choices of locations for the Marvel blockbuster sequel.
How did you get involved in the film, first of all?

Emma Pill

I had previously worked with Marvel, so I was approached for Thor: The Dark World. My involvement with film started in November 2011, when I was asked to send images of London and various locations around the country to the Marvel producers as initial ideas.
Were you a fan of the Marvel films or characters beforehand? Had you seen the first Thor film?

Emma Pill

I had seen the first film, so I did know the character. I also location managed Captain America. Having worked for Marvel previously, you end up learning a lot about all the characters as most of them are interlinked along the way. I have to admit I probably wasn't a fan to begin with, but once you are immersed in the Marvel world it is hard not to be swept along by the excitement.
As a fan of the franchise and the characters, it was a treat to see Mjolnir [Thor's hammer] flying through the London streets. Were you tasked with finding a street that was particularly "hammer-friendly"? How did you go about that?

Emma Pill

We needed to find locations that were [both] visually interesting and stated London. The visual effects team did all the hard work really with Mjolnir, so it wasn't too hard a task for us.
The Greenwich locations genuinely stand out in the film, not least because, to my knowledge, they haven't really been used before. How did you go about sourcing the locations and why did you decide on Greenwich?

Emma Pill

[Director] Alan Taylor visited London in January 2012, and we showed him around visually interesting locations all over London, including the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Having seen the location, it inspired the director and the producers to set the final battle at Greenwich, being home to Greenwich Mean Time. In addition the Old Royal Naval College has the most beautiful architecture and it is visually very interesting.

Lastly, it also had to be practical. There were many shooting days required for the final battle, and we needed a controllable location for a substantial period, which Greenwich was able offer us. As a location, it actually has been used before, mainly for period films cheating the venue as central London streets. However I don't believe it has been used in a contemporary film portraying itself for a large scale battle. The viewer gets to see the entirety of the location in all its scale and splendour, including some amazing aerial photography.
What particular challenges did you face as locations manager?

Emma Pill

The main challenge for filming was our production schedule! Not only did we have the Queen's Jubilee in London in 2012, we had the Olympics! As you will see in the film, there are many central London locations which had to be scheduled around the big events of the summer. We had to film most weekends on location in London, post-Olympics, which in itself was not a problem. However, post-Olympics was very busy on the streets due to road works and construction works that had been delayed to after the Olympics, and not only that, but many other film crews were wanting to shoot in the capital at weekends. It definitely was the hardest challenge, getting the schedule to work.
How much on-set involvement did you have?

Emma Pill

I try to be on set at the start of the day and the end of the day at least, but you do end up going ahead of the shooting crew, setting up the next locations for the schedule. It also depends on the complexity of the location - it may not be necessary to be on set all day if the location is a contained warehouse, whereas a central London street normally requires you to be there all day!
The use of rapidly-changing locations (because of the portals) in the climactic fight scene is really excellent. What was it like working on that?

Emma Pill

The brief for this was “central iconic locations in London for Thor and Malikeith to battle over/through” which meant many locations for very quick scenes. Individually these all take a substantial amount of work to set up and shoot. So to achieve this we split the workload between my two key location managers, each setting up key locations. At the time when we were filming I was unaware of just how rapidly the characters were to change locations in the final film - looking back, it seems so much work for moments on the screen, but it really works as a sequence and London looks great.
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Content updated: 16/09/2019 05:03

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