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Old 03-30-2012, 09:25 PM
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Post David Heyman & David Barron talk J.K. Rowling's thoughts of Harry Potter films, tour

SnitchSeeker took part in a round table chat with Harry Potter films' producers David Heyman and David Barron on Thursday at Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter, where they chatted about the studio itself and various props and sets throughout. Heyman and Barron commented on what J.K. Rowling thought of the sets and if the films ever influenced her writing, and whether or not they're looking out for 'the next Harry Potter'. Audio of the session and transcript are below; we will have David Yates' full round table discussion later today.






How did you handle it when the kids started to grow up and look good as opposed to the characters in the book who were unattractive?
David Barron:
We were just talking about it earlier actually. About Emma, particularly, because she didn’t have the – from the second film on – the big bushy hair and the buck teeth and whatever the books described, but she embodied the character of Hermione so strongly. She was a very beautiful young girl. You couldn’t make her look ugly or plain or ordinary because she wasn’t. And she was very conscious of fashion issues growing up, and conscious that other people were conscious of fashion, I think. But even though she wasn’t exactly the Hermione described in the book, she was the Hermione described in the book.

David Heyman: I don’t think we did anything in terms of lighting or in terms of costume to make the look any different to how they were – except, of course, Rupert looking like someone completely different in the eighth film.

J.K. must have been at some point, say halfway through, influenced by what she was seeing on the screen.

David Heyman:
Absolutely not. She’s asked that question many times. She was not influenced at all by what happened. She knew what was going to happen in her books …

David Barron: … before she ever met the cast.

Even the nuances of character?

David Heyman:
Most certainly there was a process of discovery in each of the books, but it wasn’t influenced by Dan, Rupert or Emma, or seeing what we created. There was a time, I know, when she was writing the seventh book and she came on to the set and saw the Ministry of Magic. She said that was a somewhat surreal experience because there she was writing about something and there it was before her. And she was always incredibly supportive and loved the sets that Stuart built and loved what we did with the films. She was incredibly supportive, but never once, I don’t think, was affected by what we were doing. The two were quite separate and she always had a very clear sense of what was hers and what she was going to do.

Have you seen the tour yet and what do you think of it?
David Heyman:
I think the tour is fantastic. It fills us, I suppose, with great pride. Who would have thought, certainly, when I optioned a book in 1997that 15 years later there’d be a tour? I mean, come on. I don’t think certainly I ever will again make a film which has a tour, a theme park or any of this. You walk around and it’s very exciting. It’s quite moving. It’s thrilling, and it’s a reminder, number one, of the quality and the detail of the work done, and the passion and care of everybody working on these films to make them what they are.

David Barron: It’s not surprising – it’s rewarding. We were involved with the planning of the tour, and so there’s nothing in it that we didn’t know about it advance. But actually, it’s just really rewarding to see it all in its splendor and detail. This testament to the quality of the craftsmen and craftswomen – craftspersons – that put it together.

David Heyman: And I suppose each set, each prop, is filled with memories. Walking through this tour is like a trip down memory lane, and those memories are good memories. So it’s a real pleasure to be here. It’s weird to see it so formalized as a visitor attraction – as the term goes – but it’s really lovely. And it’s wonderful also to know that we’ll be sharing it, in a way, with people, and the audiences will be able to see the level of detail that went on and the extent to which the artists went to, to create this world. Because when you see the films you get a sense of it but you most certainly don’t see the level of it. There’s a table, just a regular school table, and the artist scratched out a broom and a little bird.

David Barron: What was also interesting with that was some of the crowd, the Hogwarts school kids, they actually used to do it themselves. Instead of being discouraged, as you would be normally on a film set – taught not to scratch the furniture – they were encouraged. It was proper character behavior.

What was it like to have so much in terms of resources? Not only financially, but also in terms of support from Warner Bros which gave you the freedom to make the films?
David Heyman:
They gave us freedom in many ways, and support. They were incredibly hands off. It’s shocking when the level of the films – the budgets and also the significance of the films to their business – that they left us alone to make the films in the way they did, and were there as support when we needed it. They gave us a lot of money but, as with any film, your ambition always exceeds the budget that you have, and so we inevitably had to make compromises. Sometimes those compromises led to some really great creative things. A lot of the good decisions came from not having things.

Can you think of any examples of having to improvise?
David Heyman:
Sure. For example, on the third film, in the scene in the Gryffindor common room when they’re eating the sweets and turning into animals, originally we thought doing that a visual effect where each of the actors would morph into a lion or whatever. And that would have be fun, but actually to see the actor going, “Roar!” and seeing their face as they do it is much more involving and much more amusing.

David Barron: It’s a character-driven moment, really, rather than just a divorced visual effect.

David Heyman: We just couldn’t afford to do the visual effects – that would’ve been too expensive. But I think it was better, what Alfonso [Cuaron] came up with.

Are you both now out of the family franchise game? Or are you still jointly, or separately, still looking?
David Barron:
It’s all about material, really. If it’s the right material it can be a single film or a returnable series of films. But it’s all about the material, really.

Are parcels coming from agents saying, “Hey, this is your new Potter”?
David Barron:
Well, this is the holy grail. We’d all like to find the new Potter as well as that lovely little romantic drama that is sitting on a shelf somewhere, but I certainly don’t have any qualms about doig another one if such a thing were to come along. But lightning doesn’t strike twice.

David Heyman: For me, when I read the first book, I had no idea that there would be eight films. It was a book I liked. It thought it might be a nice, moderately-sized British film. I didn’t have a clue. I just liked it. And I think that’s the only approach one can take to material. Actually I don’t want to find the next Potter because the next Potter doesn’t exist. I want to find something that is true to itself. I don’t think Hunger Games is the next Potter, or the next Twilight. Yes, it’s a phenomenon, but it’s not the same as either one of those series.

Having made Potter, you wouldn’t really want to make Potter again.
David Heyman:
It wouldn’t be true. I think that things that try to be ‘the next’ are never as good as the original. And so, for me, I’m, like you, looking for the next film that touches me in some way. I connected with Harry, Ron and Hermione. I knew people would like them and to be at a school with magic. This was a world I related to in some way or another, and that’s ultimately what draws me, and what I imagine draws David – stories that you have some sort of connection to. Not necessarily the thought, “This is the next big thing.”

When the series did become as popular as it did, did that affect the way that you approached films?
David Heyman:
Certainly not. It’s a very fair question. No. We approached each film as an individual film, and everybody working on the film was incredibly ambitious for that film – determined to make each film better than what came before.

David Barron: Our job was just to make the very best film we could, that we were capable of, of Jo’s books. Someone else might have made a better job, who knows? But all we could do is get up every day and say, “This is what we have to do. How can we do it the best?”

Even the last two were individuals? They were off the same book.
David Barron:
Well, they’re very different films though. Seven, part one was the first film you didn’t go to Hogwarts and was a bit of a European road movie. And then the second one was the culmination of everything that had come before it. So, even though they’re two halves of one book, they were very different films.

David Heyman: And I suppose the last one was slightly different because there was an awareness that you were bringing it to a conclusion, and that most certainly was in our minds. But all we were doing was making the best conclusion that we could. That was all. It wasn’t a sense of anything beyond that because otherwise you get lost.

When the series got darker around film three, was it a decision or an organic thing?
David Heyman:
Organic - based on Jo’s material, based on the director, Alfonso Cuaron’s approach to the material. It was as simple as that. They’re becoming teenagers. When you’re 13 years old, becoming a teenager, you have different interests, different concerns. It’s more complicated than when you are 11 years old, and I think that reflects in the nature of the filmmaking world.

David Barron: In the first two films, actually, Chris Columbus is a real unsung hero because they were much more children’s films. Even though it was the beginning of touching on all these universal themes, you were dealing with kids. Chris had to re-record most of their sound on the first two films because he had to talk them through while the camera was running. “Eyes wide!” “You’re terrified!”

David Heyman: “Chin up!” “Stop laughing!”

Both Davids in unison: “Stop laughing!”

David Barron: So they were very, very different films. By the time they were 12, 13, 14, they were beginning to be capable of giving very different performances of their own. And the books were also growing up. They’re adolescents in the books and it demanded a different kind of approach.

David Heyman: And actually Alfonso benefited from the two years they’d had working with Chris, and Mike [Newell] benefited from Alfonso and Chris, and David [Yates] benefited from all that had come before him. So the stories themselves became darker. That’s a natural evolution if you look at the books – that’s what happens.

David Barron: Also, the kids, they stopped being kids and they started to have life experiences. In the gaps in between – and sometimes during – the making of the films, they began to have life experiences they could then translate back into performance, into character. And just approach things from more grown up, more informed manner. It was just all organic. That happened in the books, and it just happened in real life, too. So each one fed into the other.

Would you consider Alfonso Cuaron’s film the turning point of the series? David Yates said it’s actually his favorite film in the series.
David Heyman:
I think it is a turning point in many ways. Chris Columbus really helped support that shift. But yes, absolutely. Everything changed with Alfonso. The costumes even changed. It was a subtle change, but they changed. Every single uniform was remade, which was quite …

David Barron: ... contentious.

David Heyman: Quite contentious. But in a way it actually wasn’t. It was changes, but it was just a tiny bit to the right or to the left. I think Alfonso’s shift really helped the series evolve and allow us to make as many films as we did – allowed us to go to the very end.

So it was more like bridging the gap between the the light half and the dark? It was not a massive shift, but a bridge between?
David Heyman:
Absolutely.

David Barron: It was, yeah.

David Heyman: And yet Alfonso’s the first to acknowledge that he couldn’t have done what he did without Chris Columbus. So, these things happen for a reason. It’s not like it was a grand master plan. It happened, but it worked out.

Do you know what Warners plan to do in terms of re-release? Is it going to be like Disney where the really big hits are re-released every seven years or something?
David Heyman:
I have no idea.

David Barron: I don’t know. Honestly, the most important thing to us was making the films the way we did it. What Warners ultimately do with re-releases and Ultimate Collector Editions and Super-Ultimate Collector Editions and Super-Super is not something that we have control over. Ultimately what we do is support in terms of just providing the materials and ideas, and looking at the materials they generate.

Relating to that, there is supposedly the final big DVD release of all eight films coming out this year. Do you think there’s going to be lots of new material released with that?
David Barron:
Yes, there will be.

David Heyman: Yes, absolutely. There will also be lots of things included with it. You’ll be able to get extra props. This was an incredibly well-documented film series. We had one or two, or sometimes three, film crews around from the DVD department. We had a documentary team. There were different stages that were working to document this.

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Old 03-30-2012, 10:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Wow, what a fantastic interview! And it's comforting to know that Jo wasn't really influenced by the direction the movies were taking. I'm glad she stayed true to her own creation!
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I missed these so much. This may be the last time they'll do a Harry Potter junket. Everyone's moving on. I'm glad they have no control over the DVDs, it means a lot that they're not the ones trying to milk us hahaha. )

POA is also my favorite.

Is this just the junket or is there going to be a red carpet event? Maybe live streaming? Would love the photos
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Old 03-31-2012, 11:08 AM   #4 (permalink)

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I really enjoyed this interview. I'm so glad JK Rowling got her ways with the films and they accepted it.
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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one of the best interviews i've ever read
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am glad that Rowling realized that her books were a different vision. I like most of the movies too, especially the first two.

And I am also glad that they are not the ones charging such high prices for the Super Editions.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great interview!
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