Producer David Barron has worked on almost every "Harry Potter" movie and he sat down with ComingSoon.net to chat about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Q: Can you talk about the decision to go 3D with this movie? Now this movie's going to be entirely 3D right, or when it's shown in theaters? I know you're not shooting it in 3D?
We're not shooting it. It'd be post production 3D.
Q: The whole thing will be in 3D?
That's the intention. We're still in the early days of planning that because obviously 3D's become a big deal only very recently.
Q: Right. Do you feel like they're going to show this movie in 3D because it's become more of a fad?
No, it's not because it's a fad. I mean, obviously if we didn't think it was suitable for the film we as filmmakers would argue very strongly against it. The fact that it's now possible, and it wasn't for the last film or the film before that, even if we wanted to do it, if we sat down and said, "Oh great, let's make the whole thing," it just wasn't possible to do it. It's a post-production process. It is now.
Q: Are there thoughts in the direction of the movie and things like that being taken into consideration knowing that it's going to be in 3D?
We're making the movies as we make the movies and then the approach to the 3-Dization or whatever you want to call it, will be tailored so it's of the greatest benefit to the film. You can make choices as to how much depth you have, where the depth, the focal points are and things like that. And, I think in some of the films like "Alice," some of those still are in 2D even because there's certain elements that aren't suitable. They all don't benefit from being 3D. And so, you have that choice. As a post-production process, you have that choice. You don't have to make the decision upfront. But, looking at what other people are doing and the expertise that is out there now so it wasn't there even really when we started pre-production on these films, it was still an idea rather than something that actually happened successfully.
Q: Just to clarify, you're considering having both films all in 3D?
Well, I mean, they will obviously be 3D. The majority of the screens won't be 3D. There'll be a huge, normal 2D release and in a fair proportion, but not the majority will be 3D because the majority of the 3D screens' availability out there yet. But it'll be great.
Q: One of the really interesting things that you guys have done with these movies is that you assume a certain amount of knowledge on the part of the audience. You don't stop the picture and reintroduce people every single time. As you're coming into the last bit here, and especially as so many characters come back in that final battle, are you concerned about reminding people about, "Oh, this character from the fourth movie?" Or, are you just sort of assuming that they're following along and they know what's happening?
Truthfully, if you look through the books carefully, the majority of the principal characters have been pretty much ever present and I don't think we need to remind people who they are. You know, we're bringing back some of the characters who were subsequently lesser in the early movies and may have left school just because it's nice to. In some cases, whether or not even written into the script, but just for the nostalgia of the early films, we've popped one or two people back in, but predominantly I think you wouldn't look at the films and think, "Oh, who's that?" I think you'll remember them because they've all been in and around pretty recently.
Q: Well, if you're throwing in a bunch of maybe people who weren't written in the script, can we get closure on Nearly Headless Nick? He appeared in that one movie and never showed again.
No, I think the treat is with the ghosts and poltergeists, the films needed to be really heavily populated with them throughout which in the initial books, they were quite heavily present. But, it's really difficult to do without it feeling a bit hokey, I think, on the film. It's fine if that's what the film's about, but when it's essentially a film about real people, it's very hard to integrate the two without it feeling like a big gimmick. So we made the decision early on not to try too hard in that respect, and I think it would be wrong to bring them back now.
Q: So you're shooting both movies back-to-back. How challenging is that, or grueling for the actors?
Tiring. It's just, the long schedules when you make a single film for these because they're complicated. Even though we're not dealing very much with very young children now, there's still education elements. And so, there was some of the cast who are legally able to be sent up the chimney and down the coalmine, but they're only working four hours a day, or for half the schedule, or for whatever because they're in education. So, they're long schedules. And to do two of them back to back is – I mean, to day 223 I think. I mean, it's a lot, but it's fun still and I think in some respects, we'd all like to get to the end of shooting just because normally you'd have the different rhythms. You've got prep, you've got shooting, you've got post, and they're all demanding and we don't sorta go on a holiday during post. But, it's just a different rhythm. And so, it's refreshing and energizing. And, getting to date 223, we could do with a touch of energizing, but it's good. We still feel very lucky to be here still and we're still enjoying it, and more to the point, it's actually gone extremely well, so it's not been a torture to get this far.
Q: So will you be sad to see this series end? Are you looking forward to moving on and doing other projects?
Both obviously. I mean, I will be sad, really sad to see it end because I know David Heyman and I often said to each other, "We have never had it so good, and we will never, ever again get it so good," to work with the material like we have, on the budgets that we have, with the cast that we have, the sets and the visual effects that we have. All of them are absolutely incredible. They've been so supportive and they just essentially, they'll just go on and make the movies. It'll never happen again. So yeah, we'll be really sad to leave it, but equally, the idea of going off to do something new, and a new challenge is refreshing.
Q: There is no other movie series that's been able to achieve what this one has. On one level I think it's arguably the films keep getting better. You keep the same cast over the course of the films.
Which has never been done before.
Q: Never been done before, and you remain popular throughout the entire run. Why do you think the Potter franchise has been able to sort of break every single rule about sequels?
Essentially, it's the material because the material doesn't stand, so normally, with sequels, people are struggling to find – they've got the good idea which is, "Let's have a sequel." Then, they have a good idea and that's tough whereas we're dealt the amazing hand of, we've just got this material that she keeps throwing us. The audience love it so much that we'd have to really screw it up, I think, for them not to want to see the films. You're having to win the audiences' heart and hoping to take them with you to the end of the film. But here, they're hurling themselves at us and we'd have to really make a mess of it I think to disappoint them to the degree that they wouldn't come back for the next one.
Q: When you first started, did you realize that the series was gonna last as long as it did and that it has become what it has?
No, no, nobody knew. I mean, I wasn't here for the first film, but I think the beginning, when everyone said to David Heyman and everyone set the first film up, the idea was to make a good film, and with a bit of luck, two. Their options for the third and fourth, nobody had any idea. I started on the second film and nobody had any idea whether it would go further than the second because when we started shooting the second, the first hadn't been released and I can't remember what book, but she must've – book three must've been out by then. So, things were starting to go terribly well, but they hadn't got very far. So, by the time we got to the end of the fourth film, and that did well, it then, you know, you wouldn't stop at five or six out of seven, so it was then pretty likely we'd go to the end, but nobody really knew till that point.
Q: This franchise that you're talking about, it kind of puts you guys under a lot of pressure to deliver kind of a barnstorming finale to the most successful franchise of all time. How do you guys cope with that? Is it gonna live up to expectations?
We hope so. We like it and we think it's – again, we're trying to, as ever, properly represent the books on film and we are cautiously optimistic that we are managing to do that and if we do that, then we'll have done what we set out to do, so I think people will love it. We like it, it's fun.
Q: Because it's such a big franchise, I mean, Warner Brothers, it's a business. Is there life after this movie for the Potter franchise? Have there ever been talks? I don't know what you do.
I mean, Jo wrote these stories, seven stories, or seven parts of a singular story and it had a beginning, several steps through the middle and an end. We've now come to the end. Unless she suddenly decides to do something, which I can't imagine she will, no, not to my knowledge.
Q: Are these two films being shot for PG-13?
Q: Now, the series began at PG and it's sort of darkened up a little bit. Can you talk about the decision making process? Obviously the material got darker. Was there ever a point where Warner Brothers wanted you to keep it PG?
No, they were wholly supportive. They just went with the material. They've been absolutely incredible and they've always followed being true to the source material. So obviously, they wouldn't like us to severe someone's head. But, beyond that, they want us to do what the stories demand which is great.
Q: Have you had any challenges with this book translating any particular scenes for film?
Let me think. What have we done? We've been shooting for so long I can't remember where we started. One of the biggest challenges actually has been – there's quite a lot of exterior work on both these films. Actually, given the schedule, we've been through two winters and a very wet summer, which as you know, England, the climate is our worst enemy very often, or it can be. So, that's challenging. There's a lot of night work which is challenging. Individual sets. We're just actually going about the final battle because obviously Hogwarts doesn't remain intact in it's entirety. So, that's been challenging. And representing a large army of the dark forces and the defense of the school, yeah, it's challenging.
Q: Each film has been a balance of drama and comedy, "Deathly Hallows" with...
I wouldn't say each film, "Deathly Hallows," definitely. I'm sorry, "The Half-Blood Prince," definitely.
Q: Well, will that keep going? Will we have little light moments?
Again, if it's there in the book, we'll try and bring it to the screen, though the seventh book is a much more serious book than the sixth book was. And so, I mean, what's brilliant, I think one of the keys to the success of the books and the films is Jo was so smart. They're all pitched slightly different tonally. And so, it's not just another episode in Harry's life. They're different. They are another year in the life of these people that we've come to know and care about, but they are different. And what made six what it was, was it had that light-hearted romantic adolescent comedy at it's core. But, these are different films and I think you'll find that seven part 1 will be a very different film to six, but also a very different film to seven part 2. And, we hope that that's what keeps it entertaining. With comedy because it's a big deal, what they're going through. But, there are lighter moments actually.
Q: Because you have so much, you have two movies to cover, lots and lots of parts of the book presumably, so we don't get our hopes up, what might get cut from the books to the movies since you have so much time to cover?
I don't think we cut anything particularly. Things get compressed, and so something that might happen over say, three events in a book might get compressed into a moment in the film just so we keep the essence. It's like when we invented the scene in the middle of "Half-Blood Prince." It's because we didn't have time. There's a thread throughout the film which Jo did through the book, the fact that the little moments where so and so is in tears in the Great Hall because she just got news her parents had been killed. That was quite constant throughout the book, just little references. And so, we needed to try and draw that together into a single moment which meant the outside world and people we cared about were suffering.
Q: Do any characters live in film that died in the book, or vice versa?
I don't think so. I don't think so. I've got – it sounds a bit weak, but we've been shooting such a long time, it's sometimes hard. Sometimes we argue amongst ourselves, "No, that's what's in the book." You go back and then watch it and that was just in an earlier draft of the script. I don't think so. I think we've remained true to the books and the script.
Q: Some of the people that died in the books, it was kinda glossed over like Lupin. Are you gonna give more weight to that?
If it's glossed over in the book, it's unlikely we would give it a great deal more emphasis in the film just because there's a lot of stuff to emphasize. Steve Kloves, at one point during the process of adaptation said, "You know, actually I think we can make three films out of it if you really set your
mind." He was exaggerating, but you could certainly do two and a half films I think if you wanted to explore everything in detail. And, we've had no trouble at all filling up two films.
Q: Can you talk about reintroducing Dobby into the films?
In terms of the challenges actually, I think when in the second film he was a Dobby for a very young audience. And so, the challenge is to make him feel at home in a film that has aged and the tone is darker, but without making him a different character. So, that's challenging, but he's fun though, he's going to be really good.
Q: Do we get much of Dobby?
No, it's not a film about Dobby. It's not "Dobby and the Deathly Hallows." But, you'll get enough of him to enjoy it. He's not in a huge amount, but he's there enough to enjoy.
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