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Behind the Scenes of the HP films - Film Wizardry book

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Showing 1-18 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jan 2011, 09:56:59 GMT
P. Cobb says:
I had the Harry Potter Film Wizardry book as a Christmas gift, which is amazing - and heartily recommended to any HP fan.

Some of the info contained within people may already know anyway, but if you will allow me to reveal some snippets for discussion here, I will post the odd fact.

To start, I had wondered about the change in the appearance of Privet Drive. In film 1 Chris Columbus found a street in which to film the outside scenes, and the residents of the street all gave permission for filming, but when production ran over the initial schedule, the neighbourhood requested too much money to make the location available again for Chamber of Secrets. Therefore, Privet Drive was BUILT on studio grounds at Leavesden Studios. This studio version was then used on all subsequent films with the exception of film 3 when to accommodate the shot of Harry walking away from the Dursley's, they had to film at a practical location just across the road from the studios that had been built from scratch while films 1 & 2 were being made.

The cupboard under the stairs was the film series' smallest set, and the 4 walls were all removable to allow access for filming. harry was 'given' a small section of one of the cupboard shelves for his personal treasures.

The No 4 set designer bought most of the Dursley's often tasteless furniture in Watford.

The letters of an offer of a place at Hogwarts for Harry had to be printed on a variety of papers. Some had to be light enough for real owls to carry, and 10,000 that had to be light enough to be blown around had to be printed on banknote paper.

- Bet the residents of the real original Privet Drive regretted pushing for too much in the end!

Posted on 10 Jan 2011, 14:12:20 GMT
P. Cobb says:
In preparation for film 1, the production designer, Stuart Craig, managed to get JKR to sketch a plan of the Hogwarts site as she saw it. He used this as his basis for everything he did. She allowed the initial close planning group a sneak peek of the finished manuscripts for books 3 & 4, sketched the exact position and shape of Harry's scar, and explained the rules of Quidditch. As JKR was still writing the books while filming was going on, there were some things about Hogwarts that they only discovered after they had finished their filming, so they had to make lots of changes over the years - adding things to the castle that were introduced later such as the Owlery and the Astronomy Tower.

Producer David Heyman after his initial meeting with JKR set about finding a screenwriter. He sent copies of the 1st book (all first editions!) to various writers who all passed on the opportunity, yet kept their valuable 1st editions! Then the eventual writer, Steve Kloves, who had read the book put himself forward.

David Heyman met his wife on the 3rd film, married on the 5th and they had a baby boy on the 6th.

Posted on 10 Jan 2011, 14:19:47 GMT
P. Cobb says:
The Dursleys: Richard Griffiths who plays Vernon, at one point invented scenes that he felt would allow his character to get closer to the world of magic. He went to JKR and told her he had a brilliant idea that if there could be an open day at Hogwarts - a parents' day or prizegiving - then the Dursleys could all show up and have terrible things happen to them. JKR diplomatically rejected the idea - and that was the end of that!

Posted on 10 Jan 2011, 14:49:01 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Diagon Alley: For Olivanders, the set dresser populated the shop with 17,000 wand boxes, each individually embellished with with labels carrying numbers, runes and various forms of id - and many had to be coated in what appeared to be centuries of dust.

For Gringotts, ledgers, credit slips and stationery were all created, and the props dept minted a small fortune in metal Galleons, Sickles and Knuts for film 1 - and quite a number went 'missing', so the wizard money was replaced in plastic for later films!

The feel of Diagon Alley was based on Dickensian London.

Posted on 10 Jan 2011, 15:48:39 GMT
Hayley says:
Saw a review for the book that also raved about this book - certainly sounds good! Maybe I'll request it as a birthday gift.

At 1st thought that maybe it was superfluous considering all the tv special bits, but it sounds worthwhile. Old enough to still prefer books anyway!

Posted on 10 Jan 2011, 19:30:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2011, 19:31:39 GMT
P. Cobb says:
The book is truly amazing, H, and covers so much more than the TV specials. I'll still continue to post some facts here that I think would be of interest - honestly don't think it would ruin your getting the book yourself.

Posted on 11 Jan 2011, 09:00:24 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Hagrid: As Hagrid is part giant, filmmakers had to use various techniques to make Robbie Coltrane tower above those around him. In long shots they used a stand-in double, frequently 6'10" former British rugby player Martin Bayfield, wearing a huge body suit and an animatronic prosthetic mask based on Robbie Coltrane's face.

Posted on 11 Jan 2011, 09:14:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jan 2011, 09:15:30 GMT
P. Cobb says:
The Great Hall: Based on the Great Hall at Christ Church, Oxford, the hall was recreated at the studio. The flooring flagstones were made of real York stone which has ensured it withstood 10 years of filming with footsteps of hundreds of actors and filmcrew.

The floating candles were originally real lights - candle shaped holders containing oil and burning wicks - which were suspended on wires that moved up and down to create the impression they were floating. However, after an incident with a falling candle, it was decided to insert them digitally for safety reasons.

The feasts required much preparation. For the first film, they were thinking in terms of piles of sausages and kids' food, but Chris Columbus wanted roast beef, hams, turkeys etc. They used REAL food, but fiming under hot lights made the food smell badly.The meat was replaced every 2 days; the veg twice a day, but they couldn't get rid of the smell. On film 2 they made casts of real food that had been frozen and made copies in resin - helpful when frozen desserts were required. The props dept made 80 ice cream towers from resin and tiny glass beads.

JKR felt that walking on the set was 'like walking inside her own head'.

Posted on 11 Jan 2011, 09:39:24 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Dumbledore: Michael Gambon played the part of Dumbledore in HBP wearing a green glove so that his cursed hand could be substituted later with visual effects.

When Richard Harris was considering taking on the role for film 1, the deciding factor was his granddaughter, Ella, who said that she'd never speak to him again if he didn't take the role - so he did.

Posted on 11 Jan 2011, 11:47:02 GMT
P. Cobb says:
The 4 houses: The book contains photos of the 4 house relics, ie Godric's sword and Salazar's locket - but also of the as yet unseen Hufflepuff cup and an absolutely beautiful raven shaped Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem.

Posted on 12 Jan 2011, 11:00:29 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Lucius Malfoy: Jason Isaacs ASKED to be given a wig when he thought about how he could appear threatening. Whenever he put it on and in order to keep it straight, he had to tilt his head back so ended up looking down his nose at everybody.

When he and Chris Columbus were putting together Lucius' look, Jason asked if he could have a cane to point and gesture with - and he could pull his wand out of it.The director thought it would be cool so it happened - and Jason Isaacs was hoping to walk away with it at the end.

The Basilisk: The creature effects dept built a 20' long 1.5 ton section of the basilisk for Harry to fight in close up. It had a foam rubber skin and for lightness they used a hexagonal structure inside the neck braced with aluminium. For speed they just bought a pile of aluminium step ladders and took them apart to use.

Change of director: Chris Columbus wanted to stay as director for all the films, but as the schedules were exhausting he needed time off after film 2. Because book 4 was already out and the child actors were continuing to age there was no possibility of time off - they had to push straight on with film 3. This is when the director changed to the Mexican, Alfonso Cuarón, who brought in his own costume designer and changed the position of Hagrid's hut etc. Also to fit in the story to film length, he decided to focus the film as Harry's story, so anything superfluous to that was cut.

Alfonso's accent occasionally caused confusion: once the production team were appraising the storyboard prepared for the scene where the dementors attacked Harry at the Quidditch match - which featured eyes falling from the sky. Alfonso was asked if there was any significance to the magical image? He replied that he had asked the storyboard artist to draw the rain turning to ICE, not eyes.

The Shrunken Head: It was the filmmakers that came up with the idea of the inclusion of the shrunken head in the cab of the Knight Bus (voiced by Lenny Henry). JKR approved wholeheartedly, saying she wished she had thought of it!

Hogsmeade: A scale model of the village was built, complete with tiny goods in the shop windows and lit by tiny bulbs. They used dendritic salt as fake snow as it has star shaped crystals unlike the cube crystals of table salt. Although the airial view is on screen for seconds at a time, they went to great lengths for realism - they even made up 2 sticks with scaled down feet to 'walk' footprints through the snow coming out of some of the doors, and they also made up some DOG pawprints so someone could walk a dog through the village!

Posted on 12 Jan 2011, 19:20:31 GMT
Film makers really have their work cut out for them ever since domestic dvd freezeframe was invented.

Posted on 12 Jan 2011, 20:57:39 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Are we talking Sharon Stone and the 'uncrossing' in Basic Instinct, here?

Posted on 13 Jan 2011, 09:55:53 GMT
P. Cobb says:
The Yule Ball: Warwick Davies (Prof Flitwick) introduced the band at the Ball. He jokingly suggested to director Mike Newell that it would be funny if, as he introduces them, that he then dives into the crowd and crowd-surfs. They all had a laugh, but as Warwick turned up for work on the Monday, the director said "We're going to do it!" They had Warwick dive onto the hands of carefully arranged stunt boys who handled him in some 'unfortunate' areas - he says that if you look closely, you can see his false teeth fly out of his mouth and then pop back in again.

Quidditch World Cup: This was based and filmed at Beachy Head - although the crowd and most of the stadium was computer generated. The crowd 'wave' that heralded Krum's arrival was inspired by elaborate audience waves that have become popular at Korean sports events.

According to the 422nd Quidditch World Cup programme produced, the competing nations were: England, Luxembourg, USA, Bulgaria, India, Portugal, Uganda, Japan, Brazil, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, Argentina, Peru and Australia.

Rita Skeeter: The design of the character played by Miranda Richardson was based on USA 1930s gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. In the books Rita has 3 gold teeth, but this detail didn't fit in with Miranda's interpretation. Both she and Mike Newell felt that gold wasn't right for Rita - but that a DIAMOND was!

Posted on 14 Jan 2011, 09:54:33 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Bellatrix & Neville: Film 5, they come face to face in the Ministry of Magic. With her character having driven Neville's parents to insanity, Helena wanted to reinforce her nastiness in her meeting with Neville. She decided that as she grabbed him, she would brandish her claw shaped wand as a sort of Q-tip and clean out his ear with it, sort of torture it! Unfortunately, as she did this, Matthew Lewis (Neville) moved towards the wand as she was prodding his ear - and the wand PERFORATED his eardrum! Matthew was deaf in that ear for a couple of days. In character for Bellatrix, or what, eh?

Luna: 3 professional actresses were being considered for the role of Luna, but they were going to PLAY Luna rather than BE Luna. The filmmakers decided to put out 1 more open call and advertise. They expected a couple of thousand young girls to apply - but nearly 15,000 showed up for audition - several of whom were in their forties!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2011, 17:12:16 GMT
The book you mentioned PC - I have had it on order awhile and it was delivered this morning - it really is a gorgeous book - I shall put it away with my robe and wand and they shall be set next to the One Golden Snitch I ever won - it looks a trifle old and dusty now,

Posted on 18 Jan 2011, 17:38:44 GMT
P. Cobb says:
Congratulations, Patti. I'm sure you will enjoy it when you have cleared your immediate commitments. You will find it a useful accompaniment to the films when you get a chance to view them - and also as a reference for all those often confusing 'anorak' things we end up mentioning here and on the 'snails' thread (eg Mad Eye, Blast Ended Skrewts, et al).


Posted on 24 Jan 2011, 13:34:18 GMT
P. Cobb says:
THE Cave, in film 6:

In order to achieve a dark and intimidating look for the cave exterior, the filmmakers turned to the dramatic 700' high Clffs of Moher on the west coast of ireland, and after considering then rejecting the idea of the stalagmites and stalactites of a limestone cave for the interior, they went on to explore a quartz crystal cave in Switzerland and the massive salt mine in Merkers, Germany, that during WWII was the hiding place for a vast stash of Nazi gold and stolen art treasures. 14 miles underground they found an immense cavern of salt crystals that became the inspiration for the horcrux cave.
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Participants:  4
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  10 Jan 2011
Latest post:  24 Jan 2011

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Illustrations by Mary GrandPre. Rowling (Hardcover - 2007)
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