how to make fake snow and frost

While production designing Snow Jacket, I had the challenge of creating snow and frost for the crucial first few shots of the film–which was set in Brooklyn in the dead of winter, and shot in downtown Los Angeles.  The story is about a long-distance couple who, over the course of the film, start to fall apart under the pressure of their own baggage and external forces, and the weather is a key symbol for those external forces.

Because of our microbudget, profesional film snow wasn’t an option, but I put Google–and a lot of trial and error–to work.  The solutions I found were ultimately SO SIMPLE.



Believe it or not, the fake snow we used was largely made out of the stuff inside disposable diapers: sodium polyacrylate.  By mixing the tiny gel crystals with a few drops (and I mean only one drop at a time), a fluffy, sparkly “snow” is formed, that will even hold a loose shape like a snowball.  Some more drops of water on the character’s jacket helped the “snow” to stick and gave the appearance of melting.  The crew was impressed by how real it ended up looking.


In my prep stage, I became really attracted to this image of a bluish frosted window.  I wanted there to be a sense of insulation once the couple entered the apartment, as if they were seeking a safe haven from the outside world.  And for practical reasons, we knew we would have to obscur the view of outside our location in the most aesthetically lovely way possible.  I tried a lot of frost finish sprays on glass but didn’t get the kind of texture I wanted.  Ultimately, I created the look by sponging a mixture of beer and epsom salt on the windows and leaving it to crystalize over night.  I tweaked it a tiny bit by rewetting the glass with a sponge the next morning, so that more crystals would form.  The best part was that it washed totally clean with soap and water.

Watch for the final few moments of the trailer to see the snow and frosted window (in the backgroud)!


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