Day Three: The Beauxbatons, the Durmstrangs, and the Department of Wonder
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
As I drove into the studios this morning, I saw Monkey (a.k.a. “Fang”) out for a walk in the fields!
Today I was sent to the Art Department for employment. I started by painting trophies for the model of the new trophy room. Evidently the production designer, Stewart Craig, and the director, Mike Newell, must approve everything created in the Art Department before it becomes reality, and they were coming by to inspect our model later that day! There were a few hundred trophies to paint, but it went by quickly. The finished model looked majestic (if I must say so myself) with its vast floating buttresses. (Note: “floating” – the buttresses where literally “flying” buttresses!)
After I earned my keep, I decided to observe this “department of wonder” for the rest of the morning. My quest proved to be very rewarding; the artists were excited to show their projects and watch my reactions. That was fine by me!
One man was busy drawing hundreds of owl holes in the blueprint of the new Owlry. Another woman was working on the Ministry Box at the Quidditch World Cup Stadium. I had never considered the overwhelming detail necessary to plan a set before – her blueprint specified the shape of every bolt! I later struck up a conversation with a guy who had spent months working on the Durmstrang ship. Hung around his studio were paintings of various medieval ships he had used for inspiration in his fanciful design. His finished model looked perfect. Mrs. Rowling would be proud.
When I gawked at some concept designs hanging on the wall, an artist asked if I’d like to look at some more. I said, “Sure,” and she came back with a dozen books filled with concept art by the various artists in the studio. My heart was aflutter. “Concept Art” gives the artists the freedom to experiment with the look of characters, structures, creatures, and props. It looked as if the artists had a terrific time letting their imaginations run rampant. I’ll be curious to see what “concepts” they use in the end. I was told that sometimes they use a simpler idea for the final product. They don’t want something like Mad-Eye Moody’s leg to distract one’s attention from the scene at hand.
Next I met Stewart Craig, the production designer himself. Somehow I expected the designer of “the Burrow” and “Hogsmead” to be more….loony…..and less down-to-earth! I also met the man whom the artists affectionately called the “visual guy.” His studio was filled with candy wrappers, newspapers, cereal boxes, signs, buttons, “wanted” posters, and anything else that needed a graphic element. He presently had signs set to go for the World Cup. What fun!
On my way off to lunch, I passed models of the mermaid’s underwater castle and the cemetery. These artists just don’t hold back – the models looked extraordinary!
At lunch I had pasta with string beans and orange juice. When I asked my tablemates how they came to work here, I learned how devoted the crew really is. Some had spent months interning just to gain experience and make contacts before they got their jobs.
Everyone obviously loved what they did and worked hard.
After lunch I was back working for the Costumes Department. First I met some of the costume designers. Throughout the movie, Rita Skeeter and Madam Maxime have a fantastic and unique sense of style. The Yule Ball outfits also looked spectacular – I especially loved Ginny’s [note: in the movie, they didn't use the dress design I saw] and Professor McGonagall’s dresses. Wow! The male dress robes were perfect as well – Ron’s was simply over-the-top hilarious.
We went to spend the afternoon at the flight shed where they were filming. My “job” was to help watch the continuity in the Beauxbaton student’s costumes between takes. The costumers take pictures of every character when they begin shooting a scene. Then as they film over the following days, the costumers check to make sure the lie and arrangement of the outfits stay consistent. I’m going to feel really guilty if I see a Beauxbaton button suddenly become unbuttoned two seconds later in the movie!
When the cast went on break, costumers flocked to the Durmstrang students to help them out of their really, really hot costumes, and others went to make sure the Beauxbaton girls didn’t sit too funny and fold their costumes. Make-up artists crowded around as well to touch up their faces.
On their break I got a chance to talk with these new students. The Durmstrang guys were really enjoying themselves and were perfect for their roles. There was one with my same name, “Greg,” who wanted to get in the cameras for MTV. His character and costume are naturally set to be a surprise, so he resigned to sign my book instead. Back inside I met a relaxing Beauxbaton girl who detailed her daily schedule:
Every morning she wakes at 4:45 to get to the studios by 7:00. Once at Leavesden, she gets into costume, undergoes the make-up process, films, waits, and eats breakfast, lunch, and snacks. She works until “wrap” has been called, usually around 6 or 7 in the evening, and then gets home around 8.
It certainly didn’t sound as glamorous as many would expect! She hoped that her cousins could see her on screen.
When break was over, I talked with a group of doubles who had spent their entire day waiting around! They were watching their counterparts to get a sense of exactly how they needed to act when the time came. They were a social, fun bunch who knew how to pass the day away.
I continued watching the Beauxbaton costumes for continuity. Dan, Emma, and Rupert left soon after and were replaced by their doubles. The camera angles at that point only were on the adults above. Eventually the set wrapped and I went home exhausted.
- Day One: An Alternate Universe on Dan's Birthday
- Day Two: Minced Mouse, Slobber, and Dragon Skin
- Day Four: The Room of Pre-Visualization, and "Greg Goes to the Book Bindery"
- Day Five: "...and...ACTION!"