2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. As hard as it is to believe so many years have passed since we all rushed to the theaters, as youngin’s, to see how our new favorite book series was going to be adapted to the big screen for the first time, the studio where the Harry Potter films were born are holding new events for this very special and sentimental occasion.
There are a number of exhibitions and displays coming to the WB Leavesden Studio Tour this year, for the celebration of this momentous anniversary. As the Hogwarts in the Snow exhibition comes to a close this January, a new exhibition, Welcome to Hogwarts, will be kicking of the anniversary celebrations from Thursday February 11-Monday February 22.
Welcome to Hogwarts gives visitors a chance to view iconic props that first appeared in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone that have never before been available for viewing. The props will be set up in the Great Hall, one of the first Harry Potter sets built 15 years ago. These props include the Sorting Hat sitting upon it’s stool, floating candles above the teachers’ table, and “secrets behind some of the first film’s most recognisable scenes will be revealed.”
Welcome to Hogwarts will be followed by a special exhibition on one of the most lovable characters in Harry Potter, who made his first appearance very early on in the first book. The Half-Giant Hagrid exhibit will be running from Friday March 25-Sunday April 17. The WB Studio Tour website details this event:
“During the Easter holidays you will learn how Hagrid, the half-giant who introduced Harry to the magical world of witches, wizards and, of course, Hogwarts, was brought to life on screen as some of the groundskeeper’s costumes and props are showcased as well as the techniques that madeHagrid appear so huge. In addition you’ll be able to see artists from Nick Dudman’s creative effects team working on Gringott’s Goblin prosthetics.”
The end of spring/beginning of summer, just in time for family’s to begin vacationing, will see a very special exhibition running from Friday May 27-Monday June 6. For the first time, and for a limited time only, fans at the WB Studio Tour will be able to step inside Number 4 Private Drive. WB describes this opportunity:
“For a limited time only we are offering you the chance to step inside Number Four, Privet Drive and peer into the Dursleys’ living room as the exterior set is opened especially for the Studio Tour’s anniversary celebrations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. During production, set decorators were tasked with filling the house with Dursely-ish pieces of furniture and props and had lots of fun sourcing the ugliest sofas, worst tiles and most vulgar curtains possible.”
As the summer draws to a close, and a new school term begins, fans have the opportunity to learn more about the adventures Harry, Ron, and Hermione experienced in their first year at school together. Finding the Philosopher’s Stone will run from Friday July 22-Monday September 5. During this exhibition fans will learn and experience how many important protective obstacles that gaurd the Philosopher’s Stone were made. WB reports:
“This summer, discover how giant chess pieces were made to move by filmmakers during the firstHarry Potter film, where Harry, Ron and Hermione embarked upon a quest to find and protect the Philosopher’s Stone. You’ll also find out how a three-headed dog (and its saliva) was brought to life and how the deadly Devil’s Snare was taken from page to screen!”
The celebrations come to a close during late fall, the season most Harry Potter films were released. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone first hit theaters on November 14, 2001. Leading up to the anniversary date, WB Studio Tour’s last celebration exhibit, Fifteenth Anniversary Celebrations, will be running from Saturday October 15- Friday November 4. These celebrations are detailed as such:
“Fifteen years after the UK premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, you will be able to admire authentic sets, props and costumes first created during production. The Great Hall will be dressed with a section of the Hallowe’en feast (complete with the costume of Professor Quirrell) and you’ll have the opportunity to discover more about other sets that have stood the test of time including the Gryffindor common room, boys’ dormitory and Hagrid’s hut.”
All of theses celebrations and special exhibits sound worthy of honoring such an important anniversary in the Harry Potter franchise. If you are planning a trip or would like more information about these events, please visit the WB Studio Tour website. What exhibition are you most excited, or would like to go see the most? What are your favorite memories of the first film? Where were you 15 years ago? Share with us your ideas on how to celebrate 15 years of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone.
As we reported previously, MinaLima has a special exhibition currently in London. The Pottermore Correspondent took a trip to the exhibition (and hinted that a Harry Potter actor or two may show up to see the exhibition themselves sometime). The PMC was also able to conduct an exclusive interview with Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
Pottermore uploaded high resolution scans of some of the artwork that will be displayed at the exhibition. Of the PMC’s chat with Mina and Lima, Pottermore reports:
“Edwardo tells me there are nearly 90 prints in this exhibition. ‘We are doing it chronologically, by book. So we start with the letter and the ticket…’
‘It gets very busy by the sixth book. It’s just all over the place,’ says Mira.
‘And we have a selection of authentic props, too,’ Eduardo adds.
‘It was so nice of them to let us do that,’ says Mira, meaning the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, who has lent them some of the props they designed for the films, to show at the exhibition. They’ll be carefully placed on display in cabinets throughout the gallery space.“
Pottermore got the two talking about collaboration and what it was like working together on such big projects. The pair have been working in tandem for so long, they think of themselves as one unit.
“One of the charming things about Mira and Eduardo is how they finish each other’s sentences. They never properly interrupt one another though; it’s more that they’re on the same train of thought. That’s how they work together, too, they tell me. It’s so collaborative they can never really tell who did what and when.
Eduardo says, ‘We are basically two bodies and one brain.’
‘Er, gross,’ says Mira.
‘No, well we can’t really say now that one person designed one thing and one did the other, can we?’
‘That’s true,’ Mira adds. We might say ‘oh, can you do this bit for me?’ or I might draw on something he’s started. But yes, you’re right. That’s how we are.’“
To see photos of parts of the exhibit, Pottermore has uploaded a small collections of photos onto their Twitter. The exhibition opened today, November 30, and will remain open until December 19th. MinaLima’s last exhibition saw over 10,000 visitors, including special guests. The exhibition resides at The Coningsby Gallery, London, and is free admission. Please see the Gallery website for times and other important information.
Leaky will be present at the MinaLima exhibit and Dinner in the Great Hall later this week. Please stay tuned for articles of these fan attractions first hand!
Leaky was honored with the opportunity to talk with the wonderful Graphic Art designers of the Harry Potter films, Mira Mina and Eduardo Lima, at the Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films Exhibition.
Hidden away in a small gallery off of Tottenham St., only set apart from the other shop windows by it’s floating candles, the exhibition itself was breath taking–one of the few opportunities fans have to be so up close and personal with the materials used to make our favorite films–show casing 83 of the thousands graphic art pieces MinaLima designed. It is a magical experience for any Harry Potter fan, that takes on an even more surreal feel when the two geniuses behind the artwork enter the gallery. One cannot resist sneaking up to them to ask a few questions, beginning with how these select few pieces chosen.
“We have curated lots of stuff. But there is stuff that doesn’t warrant being presented like this,” Mira said.
“For example, the print with Slughorn’s potion label. We designed loads and loads, but that one was the best,” Eduardo said.
“We selected them like the X-Factor. ‘You’re a no go, sorry.’ Dumbledore’s memories, the Weasley Wheezes stuff, there were hundreds of labels in that shop, but most of those were just put together on set. We tried to choose the ones that mattered most to design, the most thinking.”
When asked it the designs they enjoyed creating the most were the ones that required the more thinking, Eduardo and Mira took a moment and then agreed.
“I suppose so,” Mira looked at Eduard, who nodded. “Yeah. We never really thought about it. The process is quite intuitive for us. Though, that does’t mean it’s easy! I just never really think what the process is, it just sort of happens.”
Many of those apart of the Harry Potter series have felt the pressure of living up to the expectations for such a phenomenon. Eddie Redmayne has mentioned feeling such weight joining the Potter universe as Newt Scamander. But the same pressure did not seem to have an effect on that design process.
“It was big but it was all very smooth.” Eduardo said.
“It was a big production, with lots of time and lots of money. The things you feel pressured with in film is when you don’t have time to do things really nicely, and that’s when it is frustrating.” Mira explained.
“We were there, as well, and for 10 years. Each year became a little bit smoother,” Eduardo said. “It was the same people. We had the same art department, the same producers, and the last four with the same director. That helped.”
Walking around the gallery, I was asked what piece was my favorite out of the 83, and I couldn’t choose. I asked Mira and Eduardo, out of the thousands of designs they created, if they had any pieces that were especially near and dear to their heats:
“I always say that my favorite thing to design was the Daily Prophet,” Eduardo said.”All of it was brilliant. And the Marauder’s Map.”
“It’s kinda a bit mean if we say that because they’re like our babies, and would be mean to say one is better than the other,” Mira added, with a smile.
“Especially now in a situation like this [the Exhibition]. Years have gone by, you step back, and look back in. Everything looks nicer when you do that. When you put it away and revisit it later, it has a new life, a new energy. Those two pieces [the Daily Profit and the Marauder’s Map], because of the relationship we had with them. When we were working and they kept coming back. The Marauder’s Map came back in 4 films. It had to have new bits of architecture to reflect the movie it was in. It was very organic, very alive, it just kept growing. So did the newspaper.”
It is tough to pick favorites. Both Mira and Eduardo also expressed love for all of the Weasley Wizard Wheezes, and all of Hermione’s beautiful books that are hardly ever seen as she keeps them in her bag. The book covers are gorgeous (a few are pictured above), and worth a trip to the Coningsby Gallery in-and-of-themselves.
Harry Potter was the longest, largest project Mina Lima has had, spending a long time on a film would be spending a year on a set, ten years is unheard of. We have been told that there is unlimited amount of Fantastic Beats films planned–though, almost definitely three to start with. Having just arrived at the gallery, getting off work on the Fantastic Beasts set, which is set 70 years before Harry and feels like a different project, I asked how many years they expected to work in the Potter universe with the spin-off films, if Fantastic Beasts was going to be just as big.
“No idea, literally no idea,” Mira said. “I’m not even covering anything up now, we really don’t know anything about it.”
“It was easier knowing with the books, having only the seven books,” Eduardo added.
“But even then, when we started there were only two books out,” Mira said.
Even with seven books being specifically planned, Mira added back in the late 1990’s, they had no idea how well the films were going to do, or if they didn’t know if there would be another film. Fantastic Beasts is only a screen play, not adapted from a book, Mira agreed that creating the visuals and the graphic design for Fantastic Beasts was a bit more challenging.
“When you are creating, there is no back story you can really turn to, which was really great in Harry Potter. Occasionally we have to ask Jo Rowling [for input],” Mira said.
“Even with the Harry Potter books, were not that specific of detail,” Eduardo said. “with the Marauder’s Map she never really wrote how the map looked, she just said something about the footsteps. We are used to that now. When we are there [on set] we have Stuart Craig, David Heyman, David Yates, and we talk to them and feel out how things should be.”
Like everyone involved with anything related to Fantastic Beasts, Mira and Edward are also on a gag order not to release any information. They could not specify if Fantastic Beasts was stylistically different or similar to Harry Potter–same universe, but years apart. They did say that the year 1926 will make at least make a difference, and they loved talking about what it was like working on a period piece from a graphic designer’s perspective.
“1920’s America is amazing to work with,” Eduardo said, grinning with excitement.
“Not just for us, it’s a great set for any designer,” Mira agreed. “Even when we’re doing muggle stuff it is exciting.”
“No-Maj,” Eduardo corrected her.
“Oh is that one out?” Mira asked. We talked about the great debate of Muggle vs. No-Maj that the release of the American term, for non-magical folk, had created. I was quizzed on how to say the term as an American, as pronunciation seemed to be the great debate on set.
The new level of secrecy around the Potter spin-off series is something for everyone to get used to. As fans read the books before the movies came out, there was no need to build excitement or protect anyone from spoilers. It is almost as frustrating for those on set as those off set.
“I was a little annoyed when they sent memos to everyone saying you can’t say anything,” Eduardo sympathized with me as I struggled to ask questions that didn’t pry far into Fantastic Beasts. “There is so much. It is very annoying that everyone will have to wait until next November.”
These two are so excited about the films, just bursting to share it with everyone…but they can’t they have to wait just like the rest of us. In the mean time, the original world of Harry Potter still has much to offer fans. While in London, one simply cannot miss a trip to the Studio Tour, or the MinaLima Exhibition, currently being shown in the the Coningsby Gallery until December 19.
For more information about the gallery exhibition, please visit the the Coningsby Gallery website. To learn more about Mira Mina, Eduardo Lima, and their amazing work, please visit their website.
Leaky was honored to earn a seat at the press table at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London’s Dinner in the Great Hall. Seated with MuggleNet, SnitchSeeker, Time Magazine, and the Pottermore Correspondent (yes, the mysterious PMC…who will remain a mystery by gag order), the dinner was everything a Potter fan could dream: good company, good food, and endless magical moments.
The evening started off with being whisked off to the studios on a Harry-Potter decked out double decker bus. (*Click on all pictures to enlarge*)
Dinner guests were shuttled to the door of Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where each guest was checked in, given a souvenir tickets, and free drink and professional photo passes. The check in desk was decorated in wizardly fashion, with quills, antique type writers, and guests names in large Gringotts-like registers.
After check in, guests enjoyed complimentary hors ‘derves, champaign, and juices, as they congregated in the lobby and got to know one another. In addition to the usual profile shots and Mr. Weasley’s flying car suspended above, the lobby was decorated for Christmas, with a large tree as a center piece. The first sign that the Studio Tour was still decorated for Christmas from it’s Hogwarts in the Snow event.
Not knowing his new girlfriend was one of those crazy fans who would queue for hours for the midnight release of a book, this young gentleman, was fully converted to be one of us. They are now married and enjoying a special dinner together in the Great Hall!
Emma, Dan and Rupert’s hand prints have been commemoratively frozen in cement, on display in the lobby of the studios in which they spent ten years of their lives.
Though the Dinner was advertised as a black tie event, WB gave the all clear for some very dedicated fans to come in cosplay–and those who did were fabulously costumed. Above, Fenrir Greyback takes Bellatrix to dinner rather than having her for dinner.
Others chose to adorn beautiful Gryffindor embroidered tuxes, and bring a Slytherin as their date.
Before entering the Great Hall, guests were immersed in the usual Studio Tour process; first held in a small theater/holding room (Theater J), where Harry Potter film posters from around the world and an introduction video from the producers were displayed, and then ushered in a larger theater (Theater K…see what they did there?) to watch a welcoming video from the Trio. When the movie was finished, the screen raised to reveal the magnificent doors to the Great Hall.
Beyond the lobby is a vestibule where lines form to enter the two theaters that begin the tour. In the vestibule, fans are able to see the set used for Harry’s cupboard under the stairs at Number 4 Privet Drive and learn how the franchise came to be. Below, an excited fan poses in front of Harry’s first “bedroom.”
Examples of the Harry Potter film posters from around the world that are shown in holding room (small theater, J). An introduction video by David Heyman, telling of how the movies came about, is shown across these small screens before fans are ushered into the auditorium (theater K).
When the introduction movie ends, the auditorium’s screen rolls up to reveal a red carpet leading to the glowing Great Hall doors, adorned with wreaths for Christmas. A guide invites guests to gather in front of the doors.
In honor of those celebrating special occasions with this very special dinner, those who were celebrating birthdays had the chance to place their hands on the Great Hall doors, and push it open to reveal the splendor within.
The Great Hall was decked with more than just balls of holly (fa la la la la). Guests were seated at tables of ten, that were set with floral candle center pieces, Christmas crackers, menu cards, and place tags. Red wine, white wine, sparkling and still water were provided for the table to share throughout dinner (and if tables ran out, wait staff were happily to oblige your goblets of wine with a good top-up!).
Leaky was seated at the press table alongside MuggleNet, SnitchSeeker, Pottermore, Time Magazine, and the winners of the WB Dinner in the Great Hall Contest. (The Pottermore Correspondent’s identity shall not be revealed, and there for their face shall remain obscured from the images.) With the love Harry Potter, and journalistic experiences in common, it wasn’t long before the press table became the most fun, most excited, most vocal and loudest-cheering table in the Hall.
From left to right (front row): SnitchSeeker, PMC, MuggleNet, Time Magazine. The winning couple are pictured behind the news correspondents.
The adorable couple who won tickets to Dinner in the Great Hall were celebrating their two-month wedding anniversary, still beaming like newly weds!
Time Magazine snapped a shot of the Harry Potter fan sites united as one, including Pottermore.
Before the arrival of a truly fabulous dinner, the Great Hall doors suddenly burst open. Special affects smoke and fog streamed through as a trio of Death Eaters made their entrance. They never broke character as they mingled with and terrified the guests. No amount of provocation could force them from their silent and frightening presence.
One brave fan stood and tempted a Death Eater in a duel.
Before dinner concluded, the props and costumes around the hall were given explanations and back stories. All costumes on display throughout the Tour were worn by the actors in the films. Guests whipped out their cameras to snap a photo as the Christmas Pudding props briefly burst into flames.
The Christmas Puddings burst into (fake) flames.
Daniel Radcliffe’s last set of robes and Neville’s Battle of Hogwarts outfit are among the costumes that represent Gryffindor House.
Robert Patterson’s Tri-Wizard Tournament stands among the robes and costumes representing Hufflepuff House.
Included in the Ravenclaw House collection is Moaning Myrtle’s ghostly robes, worn by Shirley Henderson.
As Draco Malfoy is the ultimate representative for Slytherin students, Tom Felton’s robes, featuring an Inquisitors Badge given to him by Umbridge, from Order of the Phoenix are displayed for Slytherin House.
Tables of guests were dismissed from the Great Hall to explore the rest of the Studio Tour at their own pace (or until set-up for the dance had been completed at 11:00, and guests re-congregated to give their best Luna Lovegood interpretive dances). The Studio Tour is full of amazing props and costumes. It is exhilarating to be so close to the authentic Harry Potter materials, and it would be impossible to include in this article coverage all 433 photos that were taken.
One of the main first features of the Studio tour is the gates of Hogwarts, currently guarded by Death Eaters.
Across from the Hogwarts gates is the one and only Leaky Cauldron–a place where people of all characters are free to kick back, and hangout.
Decorated for the Hogwarts in the Snow feature, which runs until January 31, the sets were garnished with Christmas decorations.
The Hogwarts in the Snow feature also included new prop displays, such as the Goblet of Fire. The outer casing around the Goblet is intricately carved wood, with inset beads and ruins etched in, and mechanically enhanced to melt away and reveal the Goblet. The Goblet itself, also made of wood, spews blue steam, that turns red before shooting out a piece of burnt paper with Harry’s name on it.
With a focus on snow, the Tour also set up a demonstration booth where fans were able to come see (and feel!) how fake snow and fire were created for the films. Buckets of four different types of snow materials were available to finger (salt for snow that crunches, and shredded paper for making good snow balls were two examples). Fire effects were simply created with steam and LED lights.
The Studio Tour begins and ends with displays that were originally apart of the tour when it opened its doors in 2012. In the middle of the tour, three editions have been added throughout the years–a room specifically dedicated to the Dark Arts, a room with booths that allow fans to ride a broomstick or drive the Weasley car in front of a green screen, and the Hogwarts Express, which was revealed earlier this year.
The hall leading to the grand Hogwarts Express exhibit are adorned with high-def images of important scenes that involved the scarlet steam engine–beginning with a tour part image of Harry’s first visit to Platform 9 3/4 in Philosopher’s Stone, and an image of Harry’s last film appearance on the platform, dropping off his son, Albus Severus.
Here, guests are able to take photos of pushing a cart through the wall, similar to King’s Cross Station, shop for Platform 9 3/4 related merchandise at the Railway Shop, or pick up a treat in the sweet shop next door. Dinner guests were treated to complimentary desserts and beverages on the Platform, half way through the tour.
The Hogwarts Express exhibit was designed to be viewed from the inside as well as the out, allowing fans to feel like Hogwarts Students boarding the train. Seven of the train compartments (one representing each film) were set up as if they had just been vacated by our favorite Hogwarts characters, who would be back to collect their personal items off the seats.
Departing Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express, dinner guests were able to collect a complimentary mug of delicious Butterbeer, only available at the Studio Tour and Harry Potter theme parks.
A portion of the Studio Tour is outside, to accommodate large props, sets of important buildings and allow fans to touch and interact with them first hand. Leaky and MuggleNet decided to make a quick escape down the Hogwarts wooden bridge, and to our get-a-way vehicle, Sirius’s bike and sidecar.
Other interactive features included building fronts of Privet Drive, Godrick’s Hallow, the Knight Bus, the Weasley car, and larger-than-life stone wizarding chess pieces.
The Studio Tour contains more than props and sets. It is also home to special affects departments, who helped bring magical creatures to life on screen.
Interactive parts of the special affects room included repotting a Mandrake and watching a fetal Voldemort breath, and raise its head to new life, with the simple touch of a button.
Of course, every detail of the Harry Potter films took a lot of brainstorming, planning, drawing, painting, model building, and more before the sets and props were physically constructed. Much of this process adorns many walls of the next few rooms, allowing fans to immerse themselves in the creative process.
The tour comes to an emotional close, as fans walk up the set of the real Diagon Alley, turn the corner, and lay eyes upon a breath-taking model of Hogwarts, snow-covered and sparkling in the special-affects and lighting produced “evening starlight”.
Dinner guests exited through the gift shop as tour guests do everyday, and found themselves in a re-decorated lobby and vestibule. A chess-board dance floor had been laid, and lights hung, for guests to dance the night away into the wee hours of the morning.
This was Warner Bros. Studio Tour London’s first Dinner in the Great Hall event. There have been whispers of making such a magical experience an annual event, allowing the chance for more fans to have an enchanting night. With the success of their first attempt at giving fans such an experience, we do hope the Studio Tour is inspired to make this an annual tradition, and we encourage fans to attend. There is nothing like becoming a Hogwarts student, just for one night, and enjoying a great dinner in the Great Hall.
We would like to thank Warner Bros. Studio Tour and all the House Elves involved in making this night truly special, and providing this opportunity for us and for fans.