This week my littlest sister came to visit me in London and I knew just where to take her…the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of the Making of Harry Potter. We loaded up her Oyster Card (used for public transit here) and booked the last available time slot for the week. Tickets are not sold at the door so make sure you book yours online in advance! At the studio, you not only get to walk through the larger sets such as the Great Hall, but also explore some of the smaller ones like Snape’s lair and Dolores Umbridge’s office. One of the highlights of the tour is finding hidden details on the sets and within the props that the camera simply never showed.
My sister (a loyal Harry Potter fan) and my husband (who works on tv and film sets) came home amazed by the work of everyone who was involved in the making of the films. The displays throughout the sets show how certain scenes were created and how long some of the makeup and props took to actually create. One fact I never would have known without the tour was that the Chamber of Secrets door was NOT a computer-generated effect. It was actually hand built by the special effects department.
There were many other “hidden secrets” between the film’s crew throughout the movie, particularly within the walls of Hogwarts Castle. There were nearly 350 portraits on the walls of the castle honouring old witches and wizards however some of the crew were also given the opportunity to be featured in some of the hand-painted portraits.
Also on set were the white-card models, created by the art department before actual construction began. This helped plan out shots and camera movements. Near the end of the tour was the scaled down model of Hogwarts that was used to take some of the beautiful aerial shots from the films. In the room they adjusted the lighting to show you how they controlled what it would look like during the day as well as the evening.
This tour is definitely an eye opener to illustrate how much work goes into a production like this. From the massive sets, to the thousands of props, the masks and animated creatures it was a fabulous look into over a decade of work on these films.