“You’re a wizard, Harry.”
10 June 2016
by: Darien Velasquez
As a die hard Harry Potter fan, it only made sense for me to choose the study abroad program that would take me right to the doorsteps oh where it all happened. You don’t have to be a fan to know that meeting the president of Warner Brothers UK, Josh Berger, is a real honor. The phenomenon of Harry Potter mania was something my father never understood. What’s the big deal with this magical boy and his lightening bolt scar? After going to the studio tour, I called my father and shared my experiences. Of course he still didn’t understand the fascination, but even HE was interested from just the photos alone! The Warner Brothers Studio Tour of London appeals to a mass audience of all age groups. It’s hard to think of someone who hasn’t at least HEARD of Harry Potter and it’s even harder to think of someone who isn’t at least interested in special effects which makes this place all the more popular.
Reading has always been important to my family and in fact my uncle, Badge Velasquez, the founder of Bikers for Books, has always pushed me to read, naturally as he’s a reading enthusiast. On top of reading all the books (I know…NERD!), the films had an even larger impact on my life. My mom and I would have “Potter Parties” and chill in our pj’s all day and order Chinese, watching as many movies as we could before knocking out.
So as I said before, we were actually able to sit down with the president of the studio and ask whatever our pretty little hearts desired. As an aspiring journalist going into the entertainment field, I took every opportunity in the world to ask questions and make myself known. One thing in particular that stood out to me was how real he was. What I mean when I say “real” is that he didn’t say how BAD he had it but instead how fortunate he was to have been sort of born into the entertainment world. Certainly he didn’t just wake up and become the president of Warner Brothers UK, it took work and a lot of it and wasn’t afraid to get into what kind of work that took. As a student, I often hear that “it’s who you know more than anything”and before speaking and listening to Josh Berger, I wasn’t sure how accurate that statement really was. He emphasized on the importance of connections and how that can actually get you places if you keep in touch. After the meeting, I instantly searched for him on Linkedin. I didn’t have the best of luck when trying to add him as a connection but I took home exactly what he was trying to say, you never know what doors might open for you if you keep in touch with the right people.
Once I actually began my tour, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like walking into a dream. Not very often do you get to walk into authentic sets of your favorite childhood movie, I was beyond geeked. It was amazing to see all the work that goes into creating a film. There were props in the studio that I never really payed attention too and with such great detail. For example, the “potion room” had walls and walls of potions with individual hand written labels. While watching the film, I just saw a bunch of viles…they could have all said the same exact thing and I promise you I would not have noticed. The kind of passion and care that must have gone into that just to make the scene realistic is just one example of how it takes more than two people talking and a flat wall to make a movie. I’m not a film major nor am I any sort of expert on the subject but just being in that studio made me appreciate the films and the work that much more. Since this study abroad specifically focuses on mass media, I started thinking about the huge amounts of advertising they had to do. They are no longer just advertising the books or the films but then there’s the theme parks and the clothing lines and now the studio! How does the entire world know about Harry Potter? Sounds like some pretty good advertising if you ask me. I’m not an advertising major but I have worked several years in a communications office. Working in this type of environment, you’re constantly forced to think of fresh ideas and new ways to convey a message or sell a product…I can’t even imagine all the work that had to go behind each and every advert. Once the books took off the way they did and the films started to boom…it probably wasn’t all that hard to keep the fans on their toes and wanting more.
I bet J.K Rowling didn’t expect such a booming franchise out of this and in fact I bet she didn’t expect any of this to happen at all. From what I know there are two Harry Potter Worlds at amusement parks back in the states but I haven’t been so lucky to visit either. There are endless amounts of Harry Potter merchandise all around the world. You can’t even walk into HOT TOPIC without seeing “Team Gryffindor” apparel. One of my best friends was Harry Potter for halloween, she’s 20 years old. Just imagine all the toys and games they sell for kids!? Right now…if I were to look up Harry Potter on Amazon, my engine would be beyond flooded with Harry Potter commodity. My mother who’s age I wont mention, owns her very own Harry Potter wand. I may or may not admit that I own several different versions of the classic Harry Potter glasses. This is a very different kind of paradox and I feel blessed to have been apart of it in some type of way. There are evem Buzzfeed quizzes you can take to find out which school you belong too and J.K Rowling created a website called Pottermore where fans can do the same thing but of course with the added bonus of creating your own spells 😉
I am personally so excited to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which will be coming out this November, AHHHHH!