No Light, No Camera - Action!

Posted on: 30 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Sky Travel Producer Karen Jenkinson reveals the challenges that go on behind the scenes of a film shoot in Lapland.

Shooting a film on location can be tricky when it involves snow and Santa.

Working In A Winter Wonderland

It doesn't matter how old you are, there really is something truly magical about looking out of the window and seeing snow.

I'm not just talking about a faint, brown, slushy whisper of snow like you tend to get in London.

I'm talking about great white swathes of snow, a fluffy white duvet of snow that stretches as far as the eye can see, snow on the trees, snow on the roof tops, snow, snow, snow, snow; SNOW!

lapland_snow_scene_1It is this pure white landscape that greets you as you arrive in Lapland, and if it gets a 30 year old cynic like me excited, just imagine what it can do for your children!

The excited chatter as we left the plane confirmed that everyone was feeling the same way, wide eyed, full of anticipation, and, ever so slightly, like a child again.

But, despite looking absolutely wonderful, the snowy surroundings, low level daylight and sub zero temperatures did bring one other thought crashing, uninvited, to the forefront of my mind - how the hell are we going to film in this?

I was in Lapland to film a short piece for Sky Travel. Me and the cameraman Chris soon got over our initial 'feel good' glow and started to realise that working here really was going to be a challenge, not least because it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived, and it was already pretty near dark outside.

No Lights

lapland_snowmobilesWaking the next day we headed off to film the vast array of activities which are included in the cost of a Cosmos Lapland holiday; reindeer ride, husky sled ride, snowmobiling, tobogganing - they really have thought of everything. Of course it was 9am when we left the hotel and, you've guessed it, still pitch black outside.

Arriving at the woodland location I noticed how beautiful and peaceful the snow looked settled on the trees. Our guide, Rob, told us that the snow builds up so much over the winter that some of the trees stop looking like trees at all and start to resemble clouds or strange monsters instead. I bet the children would love to see that!

lapland_huskiesFascinating as the scenery was Chris and I were painfully aware that what little smattering of daylight we would get was fast approaching, so we started to get set up and positioned the camera near the snowmobiling track.

Chris was having trouble adjusting the camera to cope with the level of light and the whiteness of the surroundings, but we persevered and, eventually, managed to get the shots we needed.

It was then on to film the husky sled rides and the reindeers, so far so good, but by the time we reached the tobogganing the camera had decided enough was enough.

No Camera

Despite wrapping it in a protective case to keep it warm, some condensation was freezing on the lens, making shooting practically impossible. So Chris and I had to find some shelter and somewhere to sit, so we could set about sorting the problem out.

A few minutes later I found myself perched on the icy step of the woodland log cabin which contained the public loos - who said filming on location was glamorous?

Eventually the camera whirred into life again and we were able to finish filming, but by now we were behind schedule, and exhausted. Carrying a tripod, camera, kit and batteries through deep snow is harder than it looks.

lapland_reindeerWe piled back into Rob's van and he promised us a cheeseburger en route to what was bound to be the highlight of the shoot, Santa's post office.

We arrived and were amazed by the authentic décor and the red buildings which make up the secret village that Santa calls his home. I was especially pleased to have a chance to meet some of the reindeer, though sadly Rudolf was out at work.


We only had a few minutes to get set up before the next bunch of excited holiday makers arrived, and so tripod in hand I decided to abandon the path and take what looked like a short cut to the village - this proved to be a mistake as I found myself thigh deep in a snow drift and unable to get out.

After a fit of giggles and several failed attempts to free myself without ending up deeper and deeper in the snow I managed to claw my way free - so much for saving time!

lapland_santa_1Thankfully my thermals and the thick Michelin Man style waterproofs which Cosmos provide kept me snug and warm despite my soggy encounter, and we managed to make it into Santa's Post Office and get the camera all set up to record just as the first lot of wide eyed children arrived.

Filming in Lapland presented a variety of challenges which I've never encountered on a shoot before, but it was also a magical experience, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

The families who we met along the way all seemed genuinely excited about their experiences and the children were full of smiles. Plus, we weren't the only ones working hard; the Cosmos Reps really do go out of their way to ensure everyone has a brilliant time.

So, would I recommend a visit to Lapland? Absolutely, but I might leave the camera and the tripod at home next time.

Watch Karen's film on Lapland here.

To book a trip to Lapland through Sky Travel and Cosmos please visit

Watch more Videos on Lapland here:

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Sky Travel logoSky Travel is the place to go to watch in-depth television programmes specialising in travel. Sky Travel sell a full range of holidays from beach getaways, to city breaks, tailor-made escapes and cruises. Sky Travel's presenters go out to experience the destinations for themselves, giving you a real insight into the holidays that are available.  The Sky Travel website is packed full of really useful information on getting away and includes editorials, online videos, fast facts and comprehensive destination guides.

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