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Happy Birthday, Andy McCray! Happy Birthday, Andy McCray!

Please join the Harry Potter Fan Zone staff in wishing HPFZ’s webmaster Andy McCray a very happy twentieth birthday!  Andy has devoted the last 6 years of his life to HPFZ, and for that we are all grateful.  So cheers to as friendly, devoted, and driven a webmaster as there ever will be.  Enjoy your birthday mate – you deserve it!

Report from LeakyCon 2009 Report from LeakyCon 2009

Recently, Harry Potter Fan Zone’s own Toni and David Gras attended LeakyCon 2009, a Harry Potter conference. Click here to read their wonderful report from the event. Photos from the event can be seen here.

‘Half-Blood Prince’ set report preview: part II ‘Half-Blood Prince’ set report preview: part II

Last year I had the privilege of visiting Leavesden Studios, the film set where Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was shot. Whilst at Leavesden, I was given a guided tour of the sets (both new and old), conducted interviews with the cast and crew, and watched filming. Part two of my report (part one available here) follows.

We set ourselves up on a table in the Great Hall and watch as the cast and crew prepare for filming. Again, the attention to detail is paramount. Everything from the cereal boxes to the books on the table are appropriately themed. A “Win Win Slytherin” banner sits in the corner alongside similar Gryffindor paraphernalia. Quiet is called on set, and David Yates shouts action.

You’ve probably guessed by now, but this morning we’re watching the infamous placebo-potion breakfast scene. Dan Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione) and newcomer Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown) all take the stage and the scene begins. On the ninth take I pick up subtle variations in the movement, dialogue and pace. It really emphasises the sheer amount of detail and persistence that goes into achieving a single shot.

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It’s off to the flight-shed next, a small trip away from the main stages at Leavesden. Giant wooden frames and scaffolding are visible as we enter the stage. Building is still in the very early stages, though we’re given a sneak peek at some very detailed blueprints. The rather colossal build is none other than the streets of Diagon and Knockturn Alley. The sentiment is woven throughout my report, but it is only necessary to mention that once again, no detail has been spared. My hat off to production designer Stuart Craig.

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A 360 degree look around Leavesden’s backlot will reveal an assortment of famous settings from the Harry Potter universe. In front of me are giant Quidditch posts and a huge sandpit sits below. An enormous green screen covers the perimeter of the set. A little further on, construction of the Spinner’s End set is well underway. Further on still, the crew are working feverishly on building the large Hogwarts entrance gates.

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!

From everyone here at Harry Potter Fan Zone, Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays from HPFZ! Happy Holidays from HPFZ!

081224 HolidaysFrom everyone here at Harry Potter Fan Zone, happy holidays! Hopefully you, unlike Ron Weasley, don’t receive another maroon sweater this holiday season.  We hope you enjoy the rest, relaxation, and time with friends and family.

‘Half-Blood Prince’ set report preview ‘Half-Blood Prince’ set report preview

Earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting Leavesden Studios, the film set where Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was shot. Whilst at Leavesden, I was given a guided tour of the sets (both new and old), conducted interviews with the cast and crew, and watched filming. Read more from my visit to the set by clicking here.

One of the first things we are treated to upon arrival at Leavesden Studios is a look at some drawings and 3D renderings of the much-hyped cave sequence. The rocky grotto is awe-inspiring on paper, but even more so when brought to life. As we enter the stage, two mucky boats can be seen resting against the stage wall.  Isolated in the middle of the room and set against giant green-screen walls are segments of the cave. At the heart of this jagged construction is the set’s centrepiece – a lavish stone basin – the resting place of a potential Horcrux. At the entrance to the room is a giant board plastered with shot-by-shot drawings of the cave sequence. The scene is so hush-hush that even we aren’t allowed a peek.

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We’re nearing the end of the visit when we’re given a first-hand look at the construction of the Astronomy Tower. The wooden structure is enormous. Even at a place like Leavesden it looks as if it towers above everything else. I can’t imagine what it’ll look like on film. Construction is well underway – the framework appears to be complete, and on one side the walls are being painted. This is a truly breathtaking spectacle.

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Slughorn’s office is being dressed for the party. Shooting is due to begin very soon. Red and gold lanterns are scattered on the ground and green drapes are being hung from the roof. Back at HQ, we’re given a look at some of the costumes that will be worn at the party. Flashbacks to the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire immediately come to mind.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is set for release in July.

J.K. Rowling awards Harry Potter Fan Zone a fan site award J.K. Rowling awards Harry Potter Fan Zone a fan site award

I am both proud and overjoyed to find out today that Jo Rowling has awarded Harry Potter Fan Zone a fan site award on her official website. Of the site, Jo says:

fansiteawardHow could I not love a fansite whose contributors include people named Thaddeus and Aunna? This is a great Australian site with an impressively young staff who have produced some really insightful editorials; I wish I could highlight a couple of them, but that would be waaaay too revealing. If you head over to FAQs, however, you will see some of the open letter questions answered (at long last, yes, I know… but I had to finish “Deathly Hallows” first). So congratulations and thanks, Andy, to you and all your talented colleagues.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Jo – this means the world to all of us here at HPFZ.

Jo answers questions from Harry Potter Fan Zone’s open letter Jo answers questions from Harry Potter Fan Zone’s open letter

J.K. Rowling has taken the time to answer some of the questions from the open letter we wrote last year!

Ms. Rowling answered questions about Draco’s Patronus, Tonks and Myrtle’s Hogwarts houses, Death Eaters (Are Alecto and Amycus, the two sibling Death Eaters, the Carrows mentioned by Snape in Spinner’s End?), Tom Riddle’s birth date (it is indeed December 31), and the properties of Draco’s wand.

You can read the answers Jo wrote by clicking here, and the open letter we wrote at this link. Thank you ever so much, Jo!

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