The Forgotten Contributors to Harry Potter’s Success

6/12/2016

By Ally Hamzey

The astronomic success and cultural impact that the Harry Potter series created is virtually incomparable. After a visit to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and an interview with the president of Warner Brothers UK, Josh Berger, this notion was even further solidified. We observed and interacted with nearly every element of the film series. We fangirled and we subsequently became short of breath as we touched and saw with our own eyes the real pieces of the magic that were a part of the Harry Potter series. It became transparent that the reasoning for the exceptional influence Harry Potter had on the world lies in countless different components.The actors in films are usually seen as the key contributors to a film or book, since they are the obvious frontrunners. However, the main support for films are often forgotten about due to their transparency and behind-the-scenes action. Massive contributions to a film are almost always the unseen aspects: sound, lighting, hair, makeup, visual effects, art, production, directors, writers, and so many more behind-the-scenes workers. The success of supremely famous franchises such as Harry Potter lies in the hands of behind-the-scenes employees, phenomenal acting, and a unique, distinguishable story line that appeals to a large audience.

The origin of the success of Harry Potter tracks back to where a woman living out of her car took a pen to a paper and let her imagination unfold as she observed a stunning castle out of a cafe window The classic and distinct storyline itself stole the hearts of millions when Harry Potter was only a fictional book, but when the story was translated to a film series, the words were brought to life in a whole new dimension.The characters of the show are the most transparent generators of the series’ success. Each character is boundlessly faceted with layers upon layers that unravel continuously through the eight books and films. Rowling created flawed, relatable characters that left ripples on the lives of people across the globe. Unique, multidimensional characters like so leave viewers hungry to learn more and more after each book or movie, keeping a hook on their viewership or readership. Once people are attached to characters, they evolve into an incredibly loyal consumer—buying all of the new books, seeing all the movies, purchasing the series memorabilia, and so on. Without the alluring, distinctive characters that stole the hearts of the world, the success of Harry Potter would be significantly more minimal.

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Dragon Alley.

The distinction and uniqueness of a story’s characters is vital for a successful media franchise. However, in the film industry, if those characters aren’t brought to life by the most fitting actors, then they lose their magic. The appeal is lost there, and viewers aren’t drawn in. The impeccable choice of actors for Harry Potter was a major contributor to the resonating cultural impact that the series had across the globe. Imagine Harry Potter being played by an actor that despite Daniel Radcliffe. It is physically difficult to picture the frontrunner of the most successful series in the world played by another actor. The human beings that bring the fictional words to life are a huge part of the equation in terms of success in media. The process of choosing actors for films is immensely important and is not taken lightly. The actors aren’t identical to the description of the characters in the books in Harry Potter, which shouldn’t come as surprise as it is a challenge to find a human who has great acting skills and looks identical to the fictional character. It didn’t matter, however, because fans of the books across the world can attest to how fitting and perfect the chosen actors for this series were for the film. Media is all about bringing concepts or ideas to life and engaging with an audience. Without the skills of phenomenal actors like Emma Watson that bring the magic fictional characters to real life, the Harry Potter film series would not have had the same enormous impact on the world.

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Hogwarts Express.

As a viewer of a film, you are supposed to sit back, enjoy the film, and submerge yourself into another world. In this process of escaping reality, one does not usually think of how that very film was produced, such as the special effects, the makeup, the production, etcetera. These background, behind-the-scenes components are the foundation for successful films. Special effects is an absolute powerhouse component to creating films with such powerful action scenes like Harry Potter has. Everyone who has seen a Harry Potter film can remember countless action scenes that left goosebumps on their skin. Those scenes would’ve usually consisted of two characters, in front of a green screen, using a plastic wand to exert a “spell” that would simply be air. The Harry Potter Studio Tour revealed a lot of the show’s deepest secrets— that a lot of the characters or settings in the film were almost entirely generated by a computer. Buckbeak, the giant bird creature that Harry unforgettably took the challenge of riding, was created at first by production, and then the scenes of Harry interacting with the bird were computer generated. The outside, pan shots of the castle were actually just shots of a smaller, replica version of the castle that the crew created, and then enhanced by special effects. A majority of Harry Potter would not have been possible without the power of special effects, with is a huge component of media that viewers are commonly blind to. The aftermath of such powerful action scenes usually results in wounds or heavily battered characters. Without hair and makeup, the battle scenes would be much less realistic and the viewers of the film would be significantly less impressed. If there wasn’t a production crew that created such realistic models of castles, or an art crew that painted portraits by hand to put on the walls of scenes, or light and sound crew to ensure the lighting and sound were at the perfect adjustment, Harry Potter would not the most successful film franchise of all time.

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The intricate castle model that the crew produced and used for pan shots of the castle in the films.

Media is about transporting yourself to a different place, and diving into a new world. Films are supposed to be that method of transport that take viewers to another place. Harry Potter does just that, and that ability of taking viewers to another world is a byproduct of multiple different contributors that entwine together. It all started with an incredibly distinct and memorable story that J.K. Rowling translated onto paper. The characters she created, inhibited with flaws and traits that readers everywhere related to, were what first hooked readers and viewers to Harry Potter. Subsequently, the brilliant and perfectly fitting actors that embodied those fictional characters stole the hearts of millions. In a film franchise, however, none of these elements would have been translated as beautifully onto film without the crucial assistance of an enormous behind-the-scene crew. In media, those behind the camera are often forgotten as the crucial pieces of the puzzle that they are. Successful media franchises are nothing without the magic of powerhouse behind-the-scenes work that creates such massively impactful franchises like Harry Potter. 

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