TV drama The Terror films on Budapest stages

Article by Nick Goundry for KFTV, 20th April 2018

AMC’s period survival drama The Terror filmed on Budapest stages to tell the story of Royal Navy ships that encounter peril in the Arctic.

The story is inspired by Sir John Franklin’s real-life expedition to navigate parts of the Northwest Passage in Arctic northern Canada in the 1840s.

Production on The Terror was based at Stern Studios near Budapest, which was the only facility available in the crowded city at the time.

Sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049, period crime drama The Alienist and Jennifer Lawrence’s assassin movie Red Sparrow were all shooting locally as The Terror sought stage space.

Stern Studios offers two stages – one spanning just under 23,700 sq ft and a smaller one covering nearly 16,150 sq ft.

“Stern Studios was the only one available in the city at the time but was still not really big enough!” says Jonathan McKinstry, the series’ production designer, in comments to KFTV.

The story features two Royal Navy ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, but only sections of each were built for the shoot.

“We wanted to differentiate between the two ships but they were built on the same basic template,” says McKinstry. “We mounted the base on an eight-foot-high gimbal and put that on a track that could be moved from one end of the stage to the other.”

The top deck could be changed so that the full set could become either the Terror or the Erebus.

“The lower decks were built as separate sets on the other stage,” says McKinstry. “These weren’t mounted on a gimbal so we mimicked the motion of the sea with the camera.”

A separate vacant warehouse facility on the other side of Budapest had to be used for scenes set on the Arctic ice. The production team turned it into an adapted studio space, concreting over the floor and blacking out the location.

Three weeks of location filming also took place on the Croatian island of Pag, which stood in for a remote island in the Canadian Arctic that Franklin and his crews must eventually traverse.

Croatia was logistically easy, at just a few hours’ drive from Budapest,” says McKinstry. “Many areas of Pag look very remote and hostile despite being close to local farmland. We filmed shortly before the tourist season started.”

The Croatian leg of the shoot was serviced by Embassy films, a veteran of high-profile productions including Game of Thrones and Brett Ratner’s film version of Hercules with Dwayne Johnson.

This interview was originally published by KFTV. It has been reposted here for posterity.