Behind the Scenes Photos and Production Trivia from The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick BTS The Shining 1980

The Shining is an enigmatic masterpiece, which has been the subject of intense analysis since its release in 1980. It is so beloved by its fans that the documentary Room 237 was made to portray the plethora of theories about the film. The rabid curiosity that the film elicits in its fans is incredibly unique and barely equalled by only a handful of other films and filmmakers. Not by chance, however, Stanley Kubrick directs some of these other enigmatic films. It was his strict attention to detail and perfection that largely helps to sustain the magical appeal of the film to this day.

To help demystify the legend of The Shining, here is a collection of fascinating behind the scenes photos and production trivia.

Filming title sequence

The 2nd Unit crew spent nearly a month filming the title sequence in Montana's Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, as well as many other 2nd Unit shots that ended up not being used in the finished film.

the shining 1980

The helicopter and camera rig used to film the title sequence, in which we follow Jack Torrance’s yellow Volkswagen on its way to the Overlook Hotel. The 2nd Unit crew had permission to film in Montana’s Glacier National Park, but they were not allowed to land in the park except in an emergency. As such, they would often have to hover just a foot or two off the ground so that 2nd Unit Director Greg MacGillivray (who was also driving the Volkswagen) could check the cameras and clean the lenses, which would become encrusted with squashed bugs.

The Torrance Family

The helicopter footage shot for the title sequence was originally intended to be used only for that sequence. For the later sequence where Jack Torrance returns to The Overlook with Wendy and Danny, Kubrick had originally planned to use a series of ground-based shots showing the yellow Volkswagen towing a small trailer with the family’s possessions. Those shots were filmed by the 2nd unit crew, but during the editing process, Kubrick decided not to use them. He instead made use of more of the footage that had been shot for the title sequence. Many have speculated as to how the Torrance family could have possibly brought all the luggage shown in the hotel’s lobby when they arrive. This explanation answers that question. 2nd Unit camera operator Jeff Blyth, Jeff’s wife, and their camera assistant doubling for the Torrance family in many unused shots of the car and wearing costumes from the film. Note their “Tony” finger poses.

Building the Overlook

The facade of the Overlook Hotel set under construction on the backlot at EMI Elstree Studios.

"Come play with us, Danny."

Lisa and Louise Burns, who portrayed the Grady Sisters, prepare for a shot on the games room set. Kelvin Pike operates the camera and Camera Assistant Peter Robinson holds the slate.

Lisa and Louise Burns as the Grady Sisters.

Stedicam swing

Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown takes actor Danny Lloyd for a ride on his Steadicam just outside the hedge maze set on the backlot at MGM Elstree Studios. Brown discovered that Danny was about the same weight as the camera, so he would often give the boy rides in a makeshift swing hanging from the device.

Cast and Crew

Stanley Kubrick, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd sits in the lap of his on-set coach and longtime Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali. To the left, Kubrick’s daughter Vivian holds the camera she used to film the Making of The Shining documentary. Behind them, Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown stands with camera operator Kelvin Pike and another unidentified crew member.

"Is there something bad here?"

Actor Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrance) on set.

"Forever...and ever...and ever."

Fake blood splashed on the walls of the hallway set where the Grady Sisters appear.

"...the most terrible nightmare I ever had."

Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrance), and Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrance) rehearse.

"Hi, Lloyd."

Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson on set.

Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson on set.

Joe Turkel (Lloyd), Stanley Kubrick, and Jack Nicholson on set.

Stanley Kubrick reviews a take with Jack Nicholson on the Gold Room set. Watching from behind are Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali, actor Joe Turkel, Camera Operator Kelvin Pike and Director of Photography John Alcott.

"You've always been the caretaker."

Philip Stone (Delbert Grady) and Jack Nicholson between takes.

Jack Nicholson on set.

Jack Nicholson, (in reflection) Stanley Kubrick and daughter, Vivian, on set.

Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick on set.

"I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya."

Shelley Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and crew on set.

Leaving the Overlook

Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall on set.

"There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady."

Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson during continuity Polaroid.

Props Department

A combination of real axes and axe handles with lightweight fiberglass heads was used during production.

Goofing around

Crew member between takes.

Stunt Double for Scatman Crothers (Dick Hallorann).

Crew between takes.

Scatman Crothers on set.

Jack Nicholson on set.

Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.

Video playback

Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick watching video playback.

Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick watching video playback.

Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson, Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, Kubrick’s daughter, Vivian, Continuity Supervisor June Randall, and others.

Is that the best you can do?

Filming Dick Hallorann’s death scene on the lobby set. Stanley Kubrick composes the insert shot of the axe striking Hallorann’s chest. A special effects artist kneeling to the right of Jack Nicholson holds a bag of fake stage blood, with tubing to deliver the blood running up the handle of the axe.

"Run and hide!"

Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd during continuity Polaroid.

Director and actress

Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall

"I'm right behind ya!"

Jack Nicholson on the exterior set of the Overlook Hotel at EMI Elstree Studios

Dolly through the hedge maze

Grip Dennis Lewis, Assistant Director Brian Cook, Camera Operator Kelvin Pike, and Camera Assistant Douglas Milsome set up a shot for in the exterior hedge maze set on the backlot of Elstree Studios.

Frozen set

Jack Nicholson posing for his final moment frozen in the snow. This side angle reveals the crude bracing system of wood and styrofoam that was built to hold Nicholson as still as possible for the lengthy shot.

Jack Nicholson posing for his final moment frozen in the snow.

Jack Nicholson posing for his final moment frozen in the snow.

Jack's shooting script

Jack Nicholson’s personal working copy of the screenplay, on display at the California Museum in Sacramento, CA in 2008.

Photos and text courtesy of, and imgur user joinyouinthesun.