The Express - Monday, 26 June 2000

That's snow business as Snowshill turns v. white for Bridget Jones movie

THERE'S snow business like show business and just to prove it, film-makers have turned a Cotswold village into a winter wonderland.  In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has come early to Snowshill (yes, really) in Gloucestershire.  For it has been transformed into a snow-white hideaway for the filming of the movie based on Helen Fielding's best-seller, Bridget Jones's Diary.

So while residents of the village on the outskirts of Cheltenham bask in mid-summer temperatures and look forward to the beginning of Wimbledon fortnight, stars including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Rene Zellweger, who plays the title role, will be wrapped up against the "cold".

Yesterday must have seemed extremely odd for churchgoers as they made their way to to the parish church of St Barnabas in the village centre.  As they strolled, dressed in shirt sleeves and summer dresses, they could be forgiven for being a little confused to see the churchyard covered in artificial snow ready for filming which begins tomorrow.

The movie features a year in the life of neurotic 30-something Bridget, as she keeps a diary of her obsessions over her weight and her love life. In her notes she even comments on her attempts to cut back on cigarettes and alcohol with phrases like v. good.

Most of it is filmed in London, but location managers chose the picturesque Cotswold village as the setting for Bridget's parents' home--where she escapes the stresses and pace of London life for a Christmas break.

And so to conjure up a traditional White Christmas scene, film-makers insisted that more than 12 tonnes of fake snow be dumped in the village to add authenticity. Specialist firm Snow Business, based in Nailsworth, Glos, made the fake flakes from cellulose, and spent three days creating the wintry scene.  The "snow" was ferried to the valley in 350 blocks and 50 drums, and was spread over two acres of the set over the weekend. The rest of the Christmas scene will created after location filming has finished using computer wizardry to make the set even more believable.

Grant, who recently split from model Liz Hurley, plays Daniel Cleaver, and rising star Rene Zellweger won the part of Bridget. The film - which was co-written by Richard Curtis - also stars Pride and Prejudice actor Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. The actors will spend tomorrow filming in the beautiful valley before Snow Business gather up every flake from the set and return the village to mid-summer.

And the makers have made every effort to produce the right kind of snow.  Yesterday Snow Business boss David Crownshaw said: "It is special English snow. It is made of cellulose to produce large, wet snowflakes, but very lightweight.  "We only covered about two acres. The valley beyond will be done on the computer.  "It took three or four days to lay and it will take the same time to pick up again. "Some people enjoy it and some people find it inconvenient. There is always someone who moans."

Bridget Jones's Diary is due to be released on February 1, 2001. The film will recount a year in the life of a woman publisher.  During the year she gains 74lb, loses 72lb, smokes 5,000 cigarettes and has an affair she later regrets. All in all, it's simply blizzard.

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