David Barron has served as producer on all of the “Harry Potter” films and ComingSoon.net caught up with the industrious producer on the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix set to talk to him about what has been the biggest challenge on the fifth film.
ComingSoon.net: You have a 700 page book and a two and a half hour film. How do you choose what to leave in and what to take out?
David Barron: It’s always difficult because you want to include everything. You just can’t. One has to be very selective about what is essential for driving the story and what isn’t. You leave out some things that are lovely, but unfortunately it is necessary.
CS: What was difficult for you to leave out?
Barron: We don’t have Ron and Quidditch which would have been a lovely thing to have, but unfortunately it’s not essential for the story. It’s just lovely color. I would have loved to have kept it in, but unfortunately I couldn’t.
CS: You had a challenge this year because two of your lead actors had to take a break to take their exams.
Barron: It’s very unusual. It’s a circumstance that I’ve never experienced before. Not to this degree. We ended up with a nine week hiatus in the middle of the film which is very unusual. Every cloud has a silver lining because it meant that we were all able to take a vacation in the middle of the film which is absolutely unheard of. It has never happened to me before and it has never happened to me again. Not everything stops in general. We continued to do some second unit photography and editing.
CS: So when did you start shooting?
Barron: In February.
CS: And then when did you take a break?
Barron: In the middle of May. Then we started back up in July. The middle of July. July 17th and then we will continue until the end of October.
CS: How much of it is a concern that the story is lagging behind the actual growth of the actors?
Barron: I think it’s probably less of a concern now than with the earlier films. With the earlier films they’re at the stage in their lives where they grew particularly quickly and so a year or 18 months on between films, you could expect to see a considerable difference in the physical characteristics of the cast whereas now the majority are sort of mid to late teens the change is not so much. I think it’s perhaps less of a problem now perhaps as it was previously.
CS: They’re getting old enough now to where they can work a full day and not be restricted by the labor laws correct?
Barron: It varies. Some of them are and some of them aren’t. It means you can never say oh great, as of next week or next year we can work a complete normal day as on any other film because with some of them you can. But, with the younger members you can’t. All ones who think about continuing onto higher education where legally we don’t have to give them time for study, but morally we do so they end up working like they were miners still just because they are continuing they’re education. So it’s an ongoing problem.
CS: This is the first time we see Thestrals?
Barron: It is. It’s the first time we realize we have Thestrals.
CS: How are they looking? There’s potential to make them really scary?
Barron: They are quite scary. I think you’ll be quite happy with them when you see them. They’re scary but they have a real sensibility about them as well. They’re fantastic looking creatures.
CS: What rating are you shooting for?
CS: The material in the books are getting darker and the audience is maturing so for the films, I don’t know if that’s a concern for you. How do you balance the dark with the fantasy elements?
Barron: Well there are dark moments, but we’re still aiming for a PG-13 rating. It’s not truly horrific. Harry is growing up. They’re all growing up and so they are coming into contact more and more with the adult world and also the dark side. But, I think we found with the last film, with 4, that the audience agreed with the film like they have with the books. We’re probably catching off the very bottom end of the market. For the very young kids the film is getting a little too dark for I think, but probably there’s members of the audience who were in the lower to middle section when the films first started have stuck with the films. It’s great really. It’s really rewarding.
CS: Vanessa said the Prophecy Room was going to be the first all digital set. Is that correct?
Barron: Yes, that’s correct. I think it will be great. That’s why we’re doing it that way. If we thought we could do it better as a physical set we would be doing it as a physical set with set extensions which is the more traditional way of doing it. But, it’s a complicated set and the prophecies are housed in circular globes and have things happening inside of them. We think we can do a much better job as a digital set.
CS: Why change the look of the brooms in this film?
Barron: We’re trying to enhance things as we go.
CS: Can you talk about casting Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood?
Barron: The casting director must have seen about 5,000 people in schools. Actually making proper appointments with schools and having them suggest suitable candidates. We had somebody who we thought could deliver a Luna Lovegood. Not quite what we had in our heads. We tried one last attempt. We thought one final push. We had an open call for the Cho Chang character. Because she was limited and we were looking for very specific. We had 3,000 people turn out and we were surprised. We thought this time, since it was a slightly wider brief for Luna, we may end up with 5,000 or 6,000 people. We had 15,000 people show up. All of whom were seen by the casting department during the course of a very intensive Saturday. Some of them unfortunately literally just walked through the door and said two or three words, but they just obviously physically the look was not correct. They didn’t get any further. There were 400 put on tape because the casting director thought they had some kind of promise. She then spent a couple days sifting through them all and selected 29 that she put on DVD to the three of us to look at. She said to me there’s only one on there in fact. Out of 15,000, there’s one who I think is the one. I got to number 9 and called her and said it must be number 9 and it was. She’s just Luna Lovegood.
CS: What was it about her?
Barron: She just is Luna Lovegood. She actually embodies her in every respect. She loves the book, she loves Luna Lovegood.
CS: Did you know her backstory?
Barron: We knew she was a huge fan.
CS: Coming into a huge production like this, it must have been a challenge for her.
Barron: She was brilliant really. She came in and had a high level of confidence in a good way. Having selected her from the DVD, obviously we screen tested her to make sure she wouldn’t be paralyzed in front of the camera and Dan was fantastic with her. He was there at the same time. He tested opposite her, he spent time with her before shooting and made her really comfortable. She never looked back.