You may have noticed that The Crown season 4 is out now. You may also have noticed that, in a certain episode, the royals visit us here in Australia. But what you may not have noticed is the movie-magic that went into filming this Australian episode.
Netflix ANZ revealed the process in a Twitter thread and it’s pretty impressive. The Crown is one of the biggest-budget shows that Netflix has ever produced, but it couldn’t quite warrant sending the entire cast and crew down to Australia to film one episode. So they found another way.
How did The Crown recreate Australia?
Charles and Diana make their debut in this new season of The Crown. Their trip to Australia happens in episode 6 of season 4 and was made to mirror the real-life trip the couple embarked on in 1983. Netflix explains that the episode features some very iconic Aussie locations – such as Uluru and Sydney Harbour.
If you've blitzed your way through #TheCrown season 4, you'll have seen THAT Australia episode — where Diana and Charles make their way down under for an Antipodean tour of royal proportions. (If you haven't yet, you're in for a treat.) pic.twitter.com/TiwbczYV02— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) November 16, 2020
Locations for Sydney were shot in Malaga, Spain and the harbour backdrop was created digitally. Interior scenes were filmed in London’s Australia House. Fun fact – Australia House is also where they filmed the Gringotts scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! Shook.
How The Crown recreated the Uluru climb
The production also recreated Charles and Diana’s climb of Uluru. Which is an activity that is rightly closed now in respect to the Traditional Owners. To do this, the production went to the desert regions in Almeria, Spain. VFX then converted this footage into the Uluru area, with help from Parks Australia.
Traditional Owner Reggie Uluru, a Mutitjul man, also appeared in archival footage that the episode used, which was approved by Parks Australia. Netflix then made a donation to a Mutitjulu community charity. The company said in its post “the scene was of pivotal importance in royal history, so the show’s creators were keen to show it in a way that was respectful to the local community.”
One of the VFX companies behind The Crown S4, Framestore, has revealed an in-depth look at how some of the effects were created. Considering most of these locations looked real in the episode, it’s amazing to learn that they were all recreated digitally.
While many may dismiss these scenes as an issue that’s been fixed in VFX, it’s still very interesting to see how the production navigated the whole situation. It’s something that we may see far more often now that international travel is largely banned.
That being said, nothing can replace the real thing. Which might be part of the reason Netflix is sending two of its new productions to film down here in Australia.