Day Five: "...and...ACTION!"
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Today was to be my last day, and it turned out to be a bang-up way to end! I was to work with the Assistant Directors (ADs) while they filmed in the Great Hall. While waiting to rehearse, I snagged a conversation with Daniel Radcliffe about music, make-up, water, and kisses. I’d like to emphasize once again how friendly and bright he is!
Outside I bumped into Tom Felton, so I got his autograph – he was worlds nicer than his on-screen character. I talked briefly with Jamie Wylett (who said “Hi” to the Leaky Cauldron!) and his mother (so nice!), and then I met up with Emma Watson. Naturally she was as sweet as ever, and she even remembered me from MTV! We discussed today’s shoot, my job for the day, our dislike of coffee, and some of the difficulties inherent in filming a movie. When I passed Rupert Grint, I asked him about the other day when I saw him using the fields of Leavesden Studios as a driving range. He said he really loves golfing, but he only had time to shoot four balls that afternoon.
The Harry Potter studios must be doing something right because everyone I’ve met on this trip has been wonderfully enthusiastic and kind.
I met the AD with whom I would be working while the actors rehearsed. He hooked me up with a radio and told me what I’d be doing. Essentially as a “Third AD,” I was to do anything requested by the “Second ADs,” who in turn followed the orders of the “First AD.” As the morning wore on, I found myself transporting extras, passing out water, and “locking-off the set” (preventing crew from walking into the set while cameras were rolling).
In addition to the numerous ADs flooding the Great Hall, there were costumers, set decorators, camera crew, make-up artists, actors, cooks, hundreds of extras, and more. This was an amazing organizational feat!
Each “take” is a long, energetic procedure. Although the cameras roll for only a minute or so, the reset time between takes can last over fifteen minutes. The costumers wipe off dust and pat out folds in the clothing, the director makes suggestions, the crew resets the cameras, makeup is freshened, and I’m not sure what else. Suffice it to say a lot goes on! Many of the actors, however, just stand there. When I asked Dan about what he’s doing during the wait, he said that he spends the time mentally preparing for the next take.
At lunch I sat with one of Emma Watson’s friends. She was around for a few weeks getting work experience in the Art Department and keeping Emma company during periods of rest. Like Emma, she was extremely personable.
After lunch I met actors as they waited to go back on set. I first talked with Joshua Herdman and Bonnie Wright. Then I got to meet the charming Katie Leung and Afshan Azad, the actresses who play Cho Chang and Padma Patil respectively. We chatted about the scenes they were excited to film, and Katie’s mom joked that Katie wouldn’t have any trouble crying if it was requested of her. The four of us couldn’t stop laughing. It was great.
Out on set, it was my big moment. I was whisked away by the First AD, Chris Carreras, into the middle of everything. He handed me the microphone and told me to stay close. Apparently, it was my job to say things like “rehearsal,” “okay, we’re going to do it again,” “the next one is on camera,” and so forth, all at the top of my lungs. I think Dan, Emma, and Rupert got a kick out of it!
(Greg calling "Action!")
Chris, who I was shadowing, had a tremendously complicated job. For example, in preparing a particular “take”:
- he requested that a set decorator loosen the toast from its holder
- he asked Emma to begin her line sooner (at his click)
- he asked the extra to pass just as Dan finishes his drink (rather than during his sip)
- he explained to the Patil girls how to narrowly avoid the camera in their journey down the aisle.
After every take, he’d make new comments before they tried it again. It was impressive how much detail he could store in his brain! It was beyond my abilities as an intern; however, I certainly didn’t mind being there in the middle of it all. I felt like I was a student right alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione – like the book had come alive. During the down time, I laughed some more with Katie and Afshan between takes. It really was a dream come true.
I finished my week on the sets of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire completely satisfied and exhausted. How couldn’t I? Pardon my analogy, but I felt like Harry Potter himself. Out of the blue, I had been accepted into the “Warner Brothers School of Movie Magic,” and it was amazing. It was magical.
(Greg at the camera!)
I send my thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. I couldn’t possibly have envisioned better treatment or benevolence! Everyone I met enthusiastically went out of their way to ensure my trip was unforgettable. They succeeded. Thank you!
- Day One: An Alternate Universe on Dan's Birthday
- Day Two: Minced Mouse, Slobber, and Dragon Skin
- Day Three: The Beauxbatons, the Durmstrangs, and the Department of Wonder
- Day Four: The Room of Pre-Visualization, and "Greg Goes to the Book Bindery"