Producer David Heyman received his just recognition at the Producers Guild Awards over the weekend. Gary Oldman presented him with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, saying, “I’ve never seen him settle for second-best,” according to Deadline‘s account of the event. Director Alfonso Cuaron called the award “very well deserved,” and Heyman accepted humbly, “This is an extraordinary honor, all the more so because it’s given to me by my peers and the PGA who really understand what it is I do and what a crazy calling we have as producers….it’s the greatest job in the world. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” PGA released a video of David Heyman’s acceptance speech on YouTube, and can be seen below:
But how did Heyman find Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before most people had even heard of J.K. Rowling? In an extensive interview for Produced By, the bi-monthly publication of the Producers Guild of America, Heyman answered this and more questions about his impressive career in film-making– revealing the true story of how the beloved Harry Potter films began– and his amazing orchestration of it all.
After being laid off from work with a major studio, Heyman opened a small office in London and decided to focus on books being published in Britain. Heyman told Produced By,
“I set out to be a bridge between the U.S. and U.K. and decided to make books a central part of my business. One, I’m a voracious reader. Two, books had probably the best ratio of development to film at the time. At the time, the British books weren’t so aggressively pursued, so I thought I could distinguish myself.”
According to David Heyman, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was almost missed by his London office. Talking about how it all started Heyman said:
‘We had three shelves for incoming manuscripts and screenplays: priority, medium priority and low priority. Tanya Seghatchian, my very bright development executive, read an article in a trade publication about a book that hadn’t yet been published. She called the agent. The book came in and sat firmly on the low priority shelf for a couple of weeks before Nisha, my secretary, who only read material from that bottom shelf, took it home. At our Monday morning I asked, “Anybody read anything good?” And Nisha replied, “Yeah, I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” I said, “Hmm, not sure about that title. What’s it about?” “It’s about a young boy who goes to wizard school,” she replied. My interest was piqued.‘
With that, the Harry Potter film producer became one of J.K. Rowling’s first true fans. Heyman described his experience to Produced By, saying:
‘I couldn’t put it down and there began my Potter odyssey… I thought if I was lucky, it might be my Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had no idea that it would become what it became. What I did know was that I connected with it. It made me laugh. It moved me. I related to Harry and the characters at Hogwarts. We all, in our own way, feel like outsiders. And no matter who we are, no matter how successful, no matter how happily married we are or what good friends we have, there are times where we feel alone. At least I do. And I felt that story was something that people could connect with. It was about something: being true to yourself. It was about loyalty and friendship and fighting prejudice and so much more.‘
After Warner optioned the film, screenwriter Steve Kloves and author J.K. Rowling really hit it off, thanks to Heyman’s introduction. Heyman talked of how the two writers bonded, saying:
‘As Kloves was writing the films, the books became wildly successful. All of a sudden they were No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Now there’s all this pressure as he’s trying to finish the script. At the same time, Jo, who had written the first two or three novels essentially without any expectations, now had all this expectation. And she was struggling as she had written herself into a little bit of a hole on Goblet of Fire but had a firm publication date! They really bonded through that shared experience and challenges.‘
Once director Chris Columbus joined the project, production designer Stuart Craig was the film’s first hire. Then, the team scoured Britain for young actors to play the three leading roles. They felt confident in their choices for Ron and Hermione but opened the search to the U.S. and Australia before finding just the right person to play Harry. Heyman told the legendary casting story to Produced by, saying:
‘One evening, Kloves and I went to the theater and seated in the audience, I noticed this boy with big round blue eyes. He seemed an old soul in a young body. And then this voice called, “David, great to see you.” Sitting next to the boy was his father, an agent I knew called Alan Radcliffe. The play started but I paid little attention to what was going on up on stage. I kept on turning around and looking at this boy. When the play finished, I went to find Alan and his son, but they’d gone. So the following morning I called ICM and asked if Alan would allow Daniel to visit the studio to meet Chris. Alan said, “Why don’t you meet him first, and then we can decide.” So Dan, his mum and I went out for a cup of tea and we spent two hours chatting. Dan had this incredible energy. He was so curious and intelligent—a curiosity and intelligence that have helped make him the actor he is today.‘
The team had a list of accomplished adult actors that they wanted, and they all accepted because the children in their lives loved the books. The Wizarding World was established. David Heyman remembered how it all unfolded, saying:
‘We made the first two [Harry Potter films] back-to-back, we were prepping the second as we were posting the first. Chris did a brilliant job. I wouldn’t be sitting here today having a conversation with you [at Produced By] were it not for Chris. He cast our three leads and so many others, chose Stuart and many of our department heads and helped create the film world and an atmosphere and culture in front of and behind the camera that lasted till the end. And he directed two beautiful films.‘
But that was just the beginning. David Heyman then explains how director Alfonso Cuaron and others joined the franchise that became a family. The focus, however; was always J.K. Rowling’s storytelling. David Heyman talked of the consistency of J.K. Rowling’s voice shining through each film despite differing directors:
‘One of the things I’m proudest of in the Potter series is that in each film a director’s vision shines through. Jo Rowling’s voice is front and center, clearly, but each director channeled that voice and has made their films their own. Without that voice, a film is a blancmange and I am not a fan of blancmanges. A director with a vision is essential, even, or maybe especially within a franchise. Having said that, we never approached Harry Potter as a franchise. We were simply trying to make each film the best it could be!‘
This only skims the surface of the story. To read more about the birth of the Harry Potter films and to learn about other great projects David Heyman has done, see the cover story for the December/January Produced By, here.
David Heyman, who will be receiving the Producers Guild Awards’ David O. Selznick Achievement Award later this month, sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Two of the biggest movie projects Heyman has produced is the Harry Potter series and the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, that will be an extension of the Harry Potter world. The Hollywood Reporter had the honor of interview David Heyman about his achievements, and talk a little (oh, but only a little) of Fantastic Beasts. THR reported:
Why did you decide to return to the world of Harry Potter?
It was exciting to move on and to embrace new challenges with Gravity and Paddington, but when it finished, there was a not-insignificant sadness because [the Potter films] had been such a big part of my life. Jo Rowling created such an incredibly rich and deeply conceived world. What you read in the books is in some ways just the surface of this world. I’d ask her about the [character Sirius Black’s] family tree because we had to paint it on the wall [for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix], and the book only had two names, and half an hour later I’d receive a family tree going back six generations with 100 people. I’m sure Newt Scamander and his story have been in her mind for many years. We were sitting around wondering what else we could do in this world, and [producer] Lionel Wigram, who is the person I first brought the first [Potter] book to, thought about maybe doing a documentary about Newt. That idea was floated to Jo, and she responded to doing a film about [that character].
Is Beasts designed as a franchise?
We’ve talked about making a couple, but with all these things — and this may be a failing of mine — I don’t look at them as franchises; I look at them as films. We want to make each film as good as we can because if you don’t, you won’t have a second film or a third.
What’s the biggest difference between Fantastic Beasts and the Harry Potter films?
Not having to work children’s hours. (Laughs.) And it’s set in 1920s New York as opposed to the U.K. in the ’90s.
Heyman went onto discuss the importance of being a “voracioius reader,” projects he has in development that he hopes to continue, the biggest challenge producers currently face in the film industry and more. The full article can be read here.
Harry Potter producer David Heyman has given a new interview to Collider.com where he discusses at length the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Among the many topics such as the forthcoming Ultimate Collectors DVD, info on why Scrimgeour was cut from Half-Blood Prince, we also learn that the scripts are both around 120 pages long, and notably some new (slight spoilers) about the h...
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Leaky was on the red carpet at Leavesden Studios yesterday interviewing the cast and crew of the Harry Potter films about their favourite bits of the WB Studio Tour, the current projects they're working on and what they think the studio will do for the future of British filmmaking. The red carpet coverage is now online and can be found at the LeakyNews YouTube channel or embedded below.
Those interviewed include Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright, Harry Melling, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, Nick Dudman, David Barron, David Heyman, George Harris and more. You can check out the video below, which also includes a clip of David Bradley (Argus Filch) talking about his upcoming role on Doctor Who and the ways in which it's different from playing Filch. Devin Lytle and Brian Rosenthal from Team StarKid were also there to tell us about their favourite parts of the WB Studio Tour.
Has this made you more excited for the studio tour and how hard will you be looking at the tables for the profanity Tom scratched in?!
Harry Potter producer David Heyman is teaming up with NBCUniversal International Studios to create a Television company that will be dedicated to bringing viewers “premium long-form scripted content.” Heyman is most well known for being a very successful movie producer. Outside of producing a limited TV series called The Worricker Trilogy, this is Heyman’s first major involvement with television.
This does not mean Heyman is done with films. Not in the slightest. With now less than a year to go for the release of the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film, Heyman has just added a lot more work to his load. But he will enjoy it!
Deadline was first to report this story, exclusively, and said:
The new company, which will be a stand-alone from Heyman’s film banner Heyday Films, will have office in London and Los Angeles. Heyman is currently staffing up the operations. The deal, which will give Heyman access to NBCUni’s global distribution platform, is designed to provide flexibility for the feted producer. Although its slate is still in the formative stages, Heyday Television will have two blind series commitments from NBC. The new company will also have the freedom to sell its shows to other networks, as well as cable and premium channels like HBO and the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
“The great appeal of this deal for us is working with David Heyman,” NBCUni Intl Studios president Michael Edelstein told Deadline. “He’s as talented a producer as there is, with a broad range of tastes and material defined by high quality. We look forward to helping David bring his passion and creativity to global television audiences for years to come.”
“It’s a very exciting time for TV. I got into films because of European films in the ’60s and American films in the ’70s,” Heyman tells Deadline. “Increasingly, that is no longer the domain of film. Those films are being made in television and that really excites me. To make intelligent, mainstream entertainment and to do it in the UK and the U.S., that really is the primary driver for me. I love TV.”
“To tell a story over an extended period of time, even with Potter it was over 18 hours, gives me great pleasure,” said Heyman. “If you look at my tastes in film, they are all fairly different but what I am drawn to is characters, for all their magic and fantasy. It’s really about people with whom the audience can engage. All the special effects do not have currency without people and characters with whom you can engage. I hope to bring that to television.”
To read more of this amazing new project–we are excited to see what is coming!–read the original article here.
This weekend, David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be honored with the Producers Guild Awards’ David O. Selznick Achievement Award for his work on the eight Harry Potter films, Gravity, Testament of Youth, and Paddington, among others. In anticipation, Heyman has been interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter for its Jan. 29 issue.
David Heyman is excited to return to the Potterverse with Fantastic Beasts. After all, he got the film rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997, before the book series had become an international phenomenon. When first talking about what to do next, Heyman and producer Lional Wigram hoped to make a mockumentary about Newt Scamander and his work in magizoology, but J.K. Rowling came back with a plan for a more traditional feature film. Heyman says,
Jo Rowling created such an incredibly rich and deeply conceived world. What you read in the books is in some ways just the surface of this world. I’d ask her about the [character Sirius Black’s] family tree because we had to paint it on the wall [for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix], and the book only had two names, and half an hour later I’d receive a family tree going back six generations with 100 people. I’m sure Newt Scamander and his story have been in her mind for many years.
When asked if Fantastic Beasts is designed to be a franchise, Heyman answered conservatively, “We’ve talked about making a couple, but with all these things — and this may be a failing of mine — I don’t look at them as franchises; I look at them as films. We want to make each film as good as we can because if you don’t, you won’t have a second film or a third.”
Congratulations on the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, David Heyman, and thanks for all that you’ve done to bring J.K. Rowling’s books to life on screen!
To read more of the interview, read the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, or see here.
The USA Today has posted a preview of the upcoming Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. During this weekend, the cable channel will be airing ten extra minutes deleted from the theatrical edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Potter film producer David Heyman is interviewed for this piece, and said
"There were scenes that got cut in the interest
of keeping the length down that were real
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Harry Potter producer David Heyman has given a new video interview where he comments on the two scripts and breaking point for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Talking to Collider.com who let us know of their interview which you can see here, David Heyman noted he had just been in London discussing the scripts for DH part one and part two with director David Yates and screenwr...
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Several times in the past, we've reported on various cast members, such as Rupert Grint (Ron), discussing the epilogue for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the possible aging process to be used on the original cast members. Today, MTV has a new article where film producer David Heyman also weighs in on the epilogue, noting:
“We will shoot it,” producer David Heyman confirmed...
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As promised, MTV has now released their Summer Movie Preview of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, including 4 new video interviews with actress Emma Watson and actor Dan Radcliffe. In the videos, Emma discusses her character of Hermione Granger and the emotions when dealing with Ron and his new girlfriend. Dan Radcliffe delves in a bit more on Harry Potter and the character of Snape in HB...
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The media barrage heralding the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continues today as there are two more features now online featuring the sixth Harry Potter film. Seen here courtesy of our Order Partner DanRadcliffe.com, SFX has a long and rather light look at the film, focusing on the old David Yates quote about the film "It's all Sex, Potions, and Rock n Roll" and subsequent r...
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We have for you today another special PotterCast, our Harry Potter podcast, extra with the audio from TLC's red carpet interviews from the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiere earlier this week in New York City. In this special episode, we have interviews with many of the cast and crew members from the film, including the Trio, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, director David Yates, and ...
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