A few years ago when I was in Orlando with my sister and her daughters, we went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. It was so much fun getting a taste for what it must have been like for the actors when they were on set. When I saw that Warner Brothers Studios in London runs a tour called “The Making of Harry Potter”, I immediately asked my parents to get us tickets while we were here.
I was nothing short of amazed during our visit and I definitely have a new perspective on how movies are made and just how much work has to go into a huge production like the Harry Potter films. The entire tour took us a little over an hour and in that time, we saw so many props all handmade specifically for the films, the sets they built, a scaled version of Hogwarts Castle they used when doing overhead shots, sketches done by the designers and much more. One of the coolest things I saw, besides the miniature Hogwarts Castle, which took up an entire center of a large room, was how the special effects and technology worked for the filming.
In a video, one of the special effects designers talked about the use of a green screen. They went to places to shoot the backgrounds but when the actors are flying that was shot on green screen. Once I got older, I had a feeling that was the case, but seeing how two and two were put together was very cool. It was wand week at the studio so they had the prop designer who made each wand by hand, and when I say each, I mean each actor, there showing how she made them each different in front of a crowd.
Just watching her go through her process and seeing how much detail and care goes into each wand, and there were a lot of wands in all the films, made me realize why it took so long between each movie. I had a new perspective on what goes into set building, especially once they start to destroy the sets in the later movies as it gets darker and more violent, from the starting sketches, to the scaled down card paper models, and then to the life size sets that we looked at on the tour.
The tour was probably one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time and I could not be happier that we did this. When we were watching the introductory film, I started to get a new appreciation for the movies, but once we left I think I fell in love with them all over again, but for so many more reasons beside the fact that they are great books and an integral part of my childhood. Daniel Radcliff’s statement in the introduction video was accurate: telling us the secrets of quiddich definitely ruined the game a little bit for me, but I am still very much in love with the series.