Working as a set scout is one of the most rewarding yet most difficult jobs in the movie industry. A scout’s job is to absorb the script in a way no one else does, visualizing the landscape or backdrop and interpreting the story that eventually sets the scene. They explore some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world to find the perfect set.
Here are five spectacular movie set locations around the world.
1. New Zealand, Lord Of The Rings
Since the Lord of the Rings was filmed over years in New Zealand, the country has seen a massive boost in tourism. People from around the world have oohed and aahed over some of New Zealand’s most magnificent backdrops chosen for the movie’s thousands of scenes. Hobbiton was set in the undulating Matamata hills, where Frodo and Bilbo’s homes were set on a backdrop of flowers and crops planted by movie staff a whole year before production began. Mount Doom and Mordor, ghastly places in the movie, were filmed in Tongariro National Park within the creepy volcanic area of Mount Ruapehu. Gollum chose the ring’s hiding spot to be The Misty Mountains–the set for this was the glaciers of South Island and The Southern Alps. In the iconic movie, Middle Earth has moved millions, many who have already traveled to explore these beautiful movie locations.
2. Thailand, The Beach
Alex Garland, the main character in Danny Boyle’s novel The Beach, found paradise in Hat Maya, Phi Phi Leh Island’s main beach. Though on the backpacker’s beaten path for decades, Thailand reached iconic fame following the major success of the movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Following the 2004 tsunami in Thailand though, the beach returned to its natural state and looks very similar to the original setting. Anyone visiting today will see Phi Phi Leh in all its beauty, a small, rugged and gorgeous island protected by towering cliffs on all sides.
3. Philippines, Apocalypse Now
Exotic North Luzon is an area in the Philippines used as the set for the cult hit Apocalypse Now, inspired by the book Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad and brought to life in 1979 by legendary director Francis Ford Coppola. Cordilla’s verdant rice terraces, trekking through wild terrain, rafting, and caving are top activities in Luzon. Baler Bay, a location used in the movie, has become one of the Philippines’ most visited surfing beaches. Originally, the west coast of Luzon was to be used as the main movie set, but after almost total destruction by Hurricane Olga, Pagsanjan, the location of famous Pagsanjan Falls, became the new one; in the movie, this is where the character Kurtz’s iconic compound was built along with Do Long Bridge.
4. Canada, Alive
The movie Alive was based on the true story of a group of Uruguayan rugby players who, in 1972, were involved in a plane crash in the Andes. The story focused on the survival of 16 players who survived a terrible fate by eating those who perished during and after the crash. The $25 million movie was filmed in the Purcell Mountains, a landscape reminiscent of the site of the original crash in South America. Filmed over four months in the mountain location 10,000 feet above sea level, the directors have said it was the most difficult movie they ever made. The Purcell Mountains are in the southeast region of British Columbia, Canada and are well known for excellent skiing and snow boarding at Panorama Ski Resort.
5. South America, Motorcycle Diaries
A story about the young and ambitious Che Guavara, who embarked on a South American motorcycle journey. Guevara’s journey began in Buenos Aires, went west on to Argentina, passed through Patagonia, and continued onward through Chile alongside the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu and finally Venezuela’s Guajira Peninsula. The movie mostly stayed true to Che’s route, filming in the locations through which he traveled. Shoots included breathtaking scenes in Argentina’s Lake District, the revered Inca village Ollantaytambo in Peru, and the ruins of Machu Picchu. The film was shot in sequence, and followed the journey impeccably to keep the film as authentic as possible. Anyone planning South American adventure should definitely watch Motorcycle Diaries.