Friday, April 29, 2005

A Day to Remember (Set Report-GoF)

Pushing it a bit to meet our April promise of some new set reports, but as promised here is one which I hope you will all enjoy.
Thanks to the newest member of our team Higuri from Japan for this wonderful report.

As usual with any visit to Leavesden studios the day started early with the first point of call being reception for a full health and safety briefing.
This is really necessary because as much fun as film sets are, the cables and bulky equipment, the uneven surfaces and the general excitement of visitors means it can also be hazardous and the good people at Warner Brothers and Leavesden don’t want anything to spoil the day. The receptionist also explained that all mobile phones had to be switched off – imagine the embarrassment of wasting thousands of pounds worth of footage because of your phone ringing – not to mention the mortification of ruining the cast members’ concentration. Cameras and tape recorders are not allowed for that reason too and because lots of people don’t like spoilers.”

Once the necessary stuff was done we climbed into an on-set minibus and were off on a tour of a lifetime which took in the QWC campsite, the quadrangle inside Hogwarts where Ron accused Crookshanks of killing Scabbers and Fred and George dragged Harry through the snow in POA and the building housing the giant tank in which the underwater scenes were filmed.

One over-awed young guest had real difficulty choosing which was his favourite part of the tour. He was heard over lunch to remark, “All sorts of amazing things happened. I’d always wanted to see the Great Hall and to sit on the Gryffindor bench and look up at the teacher’s table was like a dream come true. On the way to the Great Hall we saw a lady very gently putting a fluffy white ferret into a carrying case. She told us it was Draco Malfoy as Moody intended (ha ha). We also saw Hedwig and I couldn’t believe how beautiful she and the two other owls we passed were close up. Dodging under the giant fanged head of an enormous Dragon in the Creature shop was thrilling. I’m sure she was the Norwegian Ridgeback but our tour guide said he couldn’t possibly confirm that as he would then have to let her eat me. Even though I knew she was a model she was very scary because she was HUGE and filled the entire length of that part of the room.” A trip to the Gryffindor common room and a bounce on Harry Potter’s bed in the boys’ dorm were described as ‘fantastic’.

Before the morning was up we got to visit Dumbledore’s study and gaze into the translucent silvered pensive bowl, wander through Mad Eye Moody’s classroom and stroll through the restricted section of the library. One of the biggest thrills was when everyone got to watch a bit of filming. All of the main cast youngsters and some of the adults were on set that day but visitors had been told they wouldn’t be able to see actual filming as it was pretty intense and also top secret. However to their great delight the assistant director said they could sneak into the graveyard to watch for a few moments. It was all so impressive and the Graveyard is vast, creepy and enchanted and soooo realistic. Every tombstone and stone coffin were hand covered in moss and lichen, mist swirled around the entrance to what one of the crew said was a charnel house. There were giant trees and bushes twisted into tortured shapes. Not a place anyone would want to be at night. Because the grass is real and the entire floor is sculpted and turfed it also smelled like you’d imagine a gloomy graveyard would. The heat from the lights and the amount of bodies (live ones) made the place so warm that steam was rising from the grass making the place seem even more scary.”

The biggest surprise of the whole day had to be [as I stood shivering with excitement in the spooky place]. A very unwell looking Cedric Diggory came walking down to set. “Hi” he joked, “Sorry about my appearance. You’ve caught me on a dead day.” According to all reports, Robert Pattison was really warm and friendly and said how much he loved being part of the HP cast and how much he’d been welcomed into the HP family. The rest of the cast were equally friendly. According to their guests every single person was welcoming and courteous and made it seem as if nothing was too much trouble. As they went to lunch some of the younger cast including Matthew Lewis were playing football and invited one lucky visitor I believe to kick the ball about with them.

The tour ended for most guests at approximately 4pm when they handed in their passes and began to wend their weary way home. Our observer told us one tired but happy visitor summed up the trip by saying, “I had so many wonderful experiences during my day on set. People warned that because I had been behind the scenes and met the cast as themselves rather than their characters that some of the magic might be lost but not one bit of it. What it did for me was enhance the belief that Hogwarts is a real place with real witches, wizards, Deatheaters and their ‘Boss’ and that the real people who create and breathe life into Jo Rowling's marvellous characters are every bit as magical as their fictitious counterparts. I can’t thank them or Warner Brothers enough for their all they did to make our day so special. GOF is going to be the best movie ever. I can’t wait till November to see it and my day on set truly was the best day of my life.”

So, there you have it. Nothing we didn’t know before, i.e. the cast and crew of HP rock and the GOF is going to be truly awesome but its a great new perspective on a day spent at the truly awe inspiring Leavesden studios.

Is it November yet?

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