Archive for the ‘Part I’ Category

More DH Part I Secrets…

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Part I

Only until recently did Harry Potter: The Quest started revealing even more secrets on the first part of Deathly Hallows. Check each of these 30 second to 1 minute videos about how Hermione’s Stinging Jinx on Harry and Voldemort’s face were created, as well as the making of the Snatcher Chase. All of them are presented by either the producer or the director, except for the last one, which is presented by Nick Moran, who plays Scabior.

Some wonder why the Harry Potter filmmakers have only recently revealed behind-the-scenes stuff. It’s simple: it’s because after July 15, the films will end, and there is no other way for the company to make any more money besides selling out its secrets. Not that this is a bad thing, as many people are curious to know how in the world the Harry Potter films are made, but once the excitement is over, it’s done. Some question, “why couldn’t JK Rowling have written more books?” While I do wish the same, simultaneously, I think JK Rowling ended the series perfectly enough so that she does not have to write any more books, although it is hinted she might write another book about the wizarding world, but not about Harry, Ron, and Hermione. What the filmmakers could do next, though, is try to make a short video (yes, with green screen and everything) of the Harry Potter prequel (for those of you who don’t know, it is an 800-word story about a happening in the young Sirius Black’s and James Potter’s childhood).

If you haven’t noticed by now, the Harry Potter film series has had four different directors. Chris Colombus directed the first two, Alfonso Cuaron directed the third, Mike Newell directed the fourth, and from then point on, all the rest have been directed by David Yates.

Personally, I don’t have a preference, but that’s not  the deal right now. Recently, I found an interesting article about Yates’ thoughts on the torture scene. Personally, I found the scene slightly scary, with Hermione’s screams sending shivers down my spine. Although I was expecting Hermione to be more hurt and beaten-up (as in the book, Bellatrix repeatedly used the Cruciatus curse on her) than she appeared to be, I was nonetheless near to tears when I saw the derogatory word “Mudblood” carved into her arm (though I’m sure that in reality, it is a combination of makeup and special kind of paint). Despite this important yet terrifying scene, I have to admire Emma Watson and Helena Bonham Carter for this awesome and extremely-convinced-that-this-is-reality acting. (from http://www.fandango.com/movieblog/blog-exclusive-harry-potter-director-david-yates-on-torturing-hermione-648678.html) :

David Yates

Q. What preparation and approach did you use for Hermione’s torture scene?
Yates: Emma wanted to do research. She was really keen to get it right. It seemed like a really bizarre request, but I asked my assistant to find some documentaries where people talk about what it’s like to be tortured. I didn’t shoot it like a scene where you [say] action [and] cut. I kind of let the camera roll for four or five minutes and I let Helena and Emma improvise to a certain extent those moments, so they could build an intensity together.
Q. What was Watson’s reaction?
Yates: The first time we did it, I [did] yell cut. Emma said, ‘You cut too early! You cut too early!’ She was getting to this intense point. And I said, ‘Well, it was getting scary, Ems!’ And she said, ‘No no no no, let me try, let me try.’ There were one or two moments that were really powerful, where Emma was able to just let go a little bit and forget for a moment that she was acting. And the screams were quite horrible to listen to. It was a very odd energy in the room. She was kind of exploring and exorcising demons really, and serving the scene doing that. I felt in that moment, and in that day and in that room, she kind of crossed the line as an actress. She discovered something within herself that will make her a great actor.
Q. In addition to the series’ darkened themes, Deathly Hallows seems to have an emotional rawness to it.
Yates: School has always been a place of safety. And then you put them in a big world. It’s dangerous and you sort of feel for them in a profound way. I think the reason it feels raw sometimes is because they’re making choices and they’re having experiences, which is forcing them to grow up. We’ve all been through experiences that forced us to realize how complicated the world is and how complicated we are. And that’s what some of this story captures.
Q. J.K. Rowling has hinted an eighth book isn’t out of the question. If there were another film after Deathly Hallows, would you be up for it?
Yates: I think it would be healthy probably to pass on the torch. There are so many directors who’d do a fabulous job of revisiting this world. I’ve made four which is quite a lot, but having said that, after a year or two, making other stuff, who knows. It might be wonderful to come back to…but that’s so much conjecture…

DH part I episode 3

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Part I

Malfoy Manor. It’s fictional, but it’s one of the last places anyone (unless you are Death Eater) wants to be. In the novel, it serves as a base of operations for Lord Voldemort, and thus the reason the Snatchers take Harry, Ron, and Hermione to Malfoy Manor instead of the Ministry in chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Believe it or not, Malfoy Manor is one of the several Harry Potter sets that does not require green screen. Most of it is actually made from foam, especially the stone designs in the room where the Death Eaters’ meeting with Voldemort is held (which by the way, was filmed at Hardwick Hall). The paintings, on the other hand, are real, but were inspired by a famous, wealthy, and grand house in Derbershire, England. According to Jason Isaacs, who was has played Lucius Malfoy in all the Harry Potter films to date stated “Voldemort has chosen my house as headquarters, and just having the king in your own house is a ringing endorsement. Within about 2 seconds, it all turns complete pear-shaped, and he takes my wand off me. You don’t take a wand off a wizard in public. It’s just not appropriate, then he snaps it, and I think he’s going to kill me, and it all just turns into my worst nightmare and goes downhill from there.”

So there goes the Lucius Malfoy perspective of Voldemort using his house as headquarters. However, when the Snatchers bring in whom they think is Harry Potter (whose face is distorted by a Stinging Jinx), the Malfoys think they have a high chance of reclaiming their high position among the Death Eaters and will be cleared.  Their “horrific fall of public grace” is shown when Voldemort requires Malfoy’s wand, as it first all began when in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he fails to retrieve the prophecy in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, as it was accidentally crushed by Neville Longbottom (though in the film, it is Lucius Malfoy who accidentally crashed the prophecy). Voldemort first humiliates them by assigning Draco the task of murdering Dumbledore, and even though Dumbledore is dead after the sixth book, the Malfoys are still in humiliation. The last sign of this is when Voldemort choses to use Lucius’s wand instead of his, and Voldemort’s and Harry Potter’s wand have the same cores, phoenix feather (which is in fact from Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes). Isaacs said that this signifies “that [Voldemort] has no greater place for me in the future, in this new world he creates if he wins.”

When the Snatchers bring the news that they might have captured Harry Potter, the Malfoys and Bellatrix Lestrange have their hopes high that Voldemort would clear them and would rise from their downfall in public grace. However, they needed to “absolutely sure” because of Hermione’s Stinging Jinx, which is by the way, pure make-up. According to Dan Radcliffe, “the worst part of it is putting it on and wearing it from 6-9:00 in the morning.” At first, director Yates stated that Radcliffe liked it because it was being a “different person and Dan liked not being Harry”.

Believe it or not, when Dobby drops the chandelier, there is actually no chandelier at all. Instead, the sound is made by crew members tossing glass shards with dustpans off-screen. Each scenario when the chandelier is crashed, including Harry overpowering Draco (and thus winning the allegiance of the Elder Wand) and Hermione collapsing into Ron’s arms after Bellatrix tortured her, was filmed separately.

Another non-green screen set in the HP7 film was the trio escaping from the wedding. Although Tottenham court road is actually a real street in England (which is known for its commercial shopping; particularly consumer electronics), the film uses Shaftesbury Avenue, a famous place for theatre entertainment, also real-life. For two nights in a row, the Harry Potter crew literally shut down Shaftesbury Avenue and hired 500 extras just to play passers-bye, as well as 35 cars, 15 cabs, a limo, 5 buses, a police car and two rickshaws . They also convinced the stores to leave their lights on overnight to make the montage more realistic. Yes, it’s hard to imagine they spent two days filming a scene that lasted a minute or less. All the actors had to do was walk and talk.

Another time the actors are on the run is when they run from the Snatchers who are about to capture them, though this is not written in the book. The cast spent several days running in the Forest (although the Forest of Dean is another real-life place in England, the actual place of filming is unknown). Said Emma Watson, “the chase is great, before we get captured. We went to this amazing forest and they had a camera set up which I’ve never seen before; it kind of runs on a wire, so it is kind of like a remote control; apparently, it is incredible, and it runs unbelievably fast. So when we do the running scenes, there is a poor camera man desperately trying to sprint after it, trying to keep up with us, so we kind of have to slow it down a little bit. But with this, this camera is so bloody fast that Dan and I and Rupert were killing ourselves, I mean killing ourselves. I have never run so hard in my entire life.” According to Yates, these actors “run like maniacs, and its because they are trying to outcompete each other.” Yes, inside this scene is secret competition between the three. In the meanwhile, the course, which includes a large tree branch that serves as an obstacle, is planned by stunt coordinator Greg Powell. Nevertheless, Watson admitted that she enjoyed this scene.

And unfortunately, that is basically all the behind-the-scenes info for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. But here, you can enjoy some of the filming footages:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Scenes Footage-Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Scenes Footage-Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Scenes Footage-Part 3

DH Part I episode 2

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Part I

On more about the Battle of Whinging Scenes, according to the tech director, this location was shot in 7 different locations (although which 7 locations in particular are not known) and using a filming technique called previs. As far as I know about this technique, this technique is about visualizing the scene, largely through animation, filming the actual shots and putting it together. Once the shots are filmed, they are streamed together based on that created animation.

This technique has a several advantages, including:

  • allows directors to experiment with different staging and art direction options- this includes decisions like where to place the camera or how much lighting is needed.
  • can include music, sound effects, and dialogue to “pre-produce” a particular montage.
  • can be used for complex or difficult scenes that involve stunts and special effects.
  • can be used singly or in combination with digital video, photography, hand drawn art, clip art, and 3D animation.

A similar technique was used for creating the life-like and adorable house elves. It may be easy to think that the actors were really just talking to nothing, but there were people actually playing the house elves. Those these actors are not they height of normal adults, they’re not that minute either (Warwick Davis, who portrays Professor Flitwick in all the HP films to date, is 3.5 feet). Simon McBurney and Toby Jones, who play Kreacher and Dobby respectively, are around 5.5 feet tall. During the filming, they are acting either squatting or on their knees. In the meanwhile, the previs technique created an animation of Dobby and Kreacher beforehand. According to the tech director, he calles these animated characters “CG characters” (CG refers to nonexistent but life-like; believe it or not, this same technique was used when the Death Eaters destroy the bridge that stands over the Thames River in the Half Blood Prince movie.). Once the shot is loaded on the computer, the actors are then erased, but you still get the voice. Then the CG Dobby and Kreacher are added in, and you get what you saw most likely last November.

While the scenes of Harry, Ron, and Hermione infiltrating the Ministry of Magic may seem largely green-screen, it’s only partially green screen. As mentioned in an earlier post, the set was painstakingly rebuilt after it was “destroyed” in the Order of the Phoenix film. The green-screen was only used in making the dementors and Umbridge’s cat patronus. Although the film cuts the part of the trio transforming into three Ministry employees, the actors playing the impersonated Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to study Radcliffe’s, Grint’s, and Watson’s movements carefully, just like Radcliffe having to study everyone else’s behavior for the Seven Potters scene.

Something interesting to note about the use of Polyjuice potion: in the books, the person taking it not only assumes his her “victim”‘s appearance but also the victim’s voice. In the movies, the person taking the potion only assumes the victim’s appearance, not the voice.

In the film, Harry changes back from Runcorn’s appearance to himself, although there are no hints of this happening in the book. To work this out, both David O’ Hara (who played both the real and impersonated Runcorn) and Radcliffe acted out Runcorn’s role in the Ministry trail scene. At some point, the computer allowed both scenes to be combined so it looked like that the effects of the polyjuice potion Harry had taken was wearing off. Radcliffe spoke of this by saying “I really like the fact that I’m being played by this tough Scottish guy… he sounds like he’s saying “Superfly!” but no, he’s saying “Stupefy!”.” You can see more info about the Ministry scenes here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ-tID_Q2kU

DH Part I filming episode 1

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Part I

Since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is the most recent film, I know most you all will be curious about how the filming for this one.

With over a hundred special effects, there’s not enough room to write about all of them, so this post will be actually divided into at least four parts.

In case you didn’t know already, the idea of splitting a Harry Potter movie into two parts was originally something that was going to be the done with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as it is one of the longest books (the longest actually being Order of the Phoenix) in the series. Had the Goblet of Fire movie included as much detail as both Deathly Hallows movies will, “it would be a 17-hour film,” as stated by Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid in the films.

According to producer David Heyman, he thought “this was a terrible idea”, most likely because it was never done before. But as it’s the last film, it’s important that the filmmakers should not strip as many details from the book as they did in the movies for the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix movies. Also according to actors, in particular Daniel Radcliffe, they feel a lot of pressure in making both Deathly Hallows the best movies, as they have no more chances in messing up.

First thing: the Seven Potters and the Battle of Little Whinging scenes.

The process of morphing into Harry is intersting and no surprise, very complex. According to Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in all the films, stated that they drank with several cameras staring at the actors who were playing the fake Potters from nearly every angle. They also had to wear glow-in-the-dark face paint (most likely so that the cameras could easily target the faces), and all the actors had to do was to make faces. Then, it’s Dan Radcliffe playing everyone else.

It was the first time that green screen lining was put around the Privet Drive area. Quite a lot of practicing had to be done for this montage, though most of the acting is really just taking off clothes and dressing. First, Radcliffe had to study everyone’s behavior; particularly the way they others took off their clothes. Then,  Radcliffe had to act with the actor standing to him, the two had to mirror each other’s movements. Finally, Radcliffe acted solo in front of a green screen.

According to director David Yates, “Dan actually plays women really well.” According to Radcliffe himself, he thought he “look[ed] fantastic in Fleur’s outfit,” despite that he was only “add[ing] fuel to the fire to the rumor that [he’s] gay.” (In fact, he’s actually past the point of caring) When asked by  Ben Shepard, Radcliffe stated that his, or rather Fleur’s outfit consisted of skin-tight trousers, a dark blue shirt, and over that shirt a nice blue jacket with nice button configurations.  According to Domnhall Gleeson, who plays Bill Weasley and also the son of Brendan Gleeson (who plays Mad-Eye Moody), the scene with Radcliffe in Fleur’s outfit was a rather entertaining one as Radcliffe had trouble opening and closing a bra; in fact they had to cut several times because Radcliffe was having trouble with the bra.

Obviously enough the Battle over little Whinging Scene is green screen acting, and to be honest, there’s not enough known to figure out the entire montage but here’s a video to help you understand, as words are not enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw5lD72NXoA&feature=related

So as I promised, this post is about the Quidditch scenes.

For so many years, it was a closely guarded secret, and it wasn’t until after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I that the secret was finally released. You might think, “Oh I already know the answer- it’s green screen!” That’s partially correct, but not quite. It’s more than “riding” a broom in a green screen room- it’s a combination of green screen, building, technology, and machinery.

As Harry Potter movies takes about twice as long as your average move to film, quidditch training can take as long as half a year.

So to help you understand, I’ll take you on a little journey with Ben Shephard, who has been going behind the scenes and interviewing cast since the production of Harry Potter and Goblet and the Fire, through these two vids:

According to many cast members, they said that their experiences  with the brooms  were rather uncomfortable, as the broom handle is very thin. According to Daniel Radcliffe, “blood is drawn from unlikely places”.  According to Ben Shephard, as you saw in the second link, he agrees with the actors that the experience is painstaking yet very fun. And once the broom scenes come to life on the screen, the hard work and painful experiences behind the brooms are certainly worth it and very enjoyable to watch.