The Lexicon Visits The Magic Factory
Steve Vander Ark
The bus got lost.
When we eventually arrived, we were met by Vanessa, who was frantically wondering what had happened to us. We tumbled out of the bus in front of a ramshackle old factory in the English countryside while Vanessa berated the bus driver. We left her to it and hustled into the building, out of the rain. We scurried around a corner (where there were bathrooms, thank goodness), down a hall, and into a small marquee set up as a reception area. And what a reception area it was.
The predominant color was pink. Kitten plates filled one wall. A selection of frilly poufs and footstools created an area for conversation, while ornate cases and pictures lined the walls. One corner was taken up with refreshments, which unfortunately didn't include coffee. I didn't mind that, however, since this was a room where I could easily imagine Dolores Umbridge casually spiking whatever I was drinking with Veritaserum. As a matter of fact, several of her costumes hung on display in one corner. Vanessa, who had finished sacking the bus driver and was now doing her best to make us feel at home, pointed out that the costumes that Umbridge wears are more shockingly pink as the story progresses and as she loses control. It was true. The costume for the beginning of the film is a pale mauve. The last one in the series, the one she wears in the forest, is so violently pink that it would put Pepto-Bismol to shame.
I wandered around the room and looked at the pictures on the walls. The production artwork was amazing. The Daily Prophet pages made my Lexicon heart melt. The stills of scenes already shot gave me a glimpse into everything from Mrs Figg's forlorn expression on the stand in the Wizengamot to the radish earrings Luna was wearing (which Evanna later told us she had made herself). The artwork of Grawp holding Hermione up to his massive face brought humanity to the character which I had never imagined, but which convinced me that maybe--just maybe--I could enjoy that scene a little bit.
I am from the Lexicon, however, and delightful as all that is, none of it could hold a candle to what was displayed on the wall next to the door. Sirius Black appeared in a simple photograph, standing in a doorway in what was evidently Grimmauld Place...a doorway in a wall that was filled with the Black Family Tree tapestry. And I could read every name and date.
I called Bel. I called Lisa. I called John. I called everyone I could think of. No one was home. So I read each name into my little digital recorder, along with each date, and prayed that I could remember which branch of the tree each one belonged to. Yes, there really was a tree with branches painted on the tapestry. I couldn't remember which name we'd had questions about, so I read them all. Later, listening to myself read off those names and dates, I checked the version we have on the Lexicon. Just about every detail was correct. A few changes need to be made, and now that we have clearance to tell a little of what we saw there, we'll make the adjustments to the Tree on the Lexicon.
After all, that's what it was all about for me: fact checking. Finding out the little canon details that make up the Lexicon. It's all about canon. It's not about how cool the set for the underground Ministry of Magic is (beyond belief!) or how Luna-esque Evanna is (but definitely a Ravenclaw...she's brilliant). It's not about seeing prop storage areas crammed full of every bit of every scene of every one of the films (including a "shelf" with a row of actual Ford Anglias on it). It's not about chatting with Daniel and Emma, although that was really fun. It's not about interviewing Jason Isaacs wearing leather head to toe (Jason, not me) and discovering that he reads fan fiction about himself and gets a huge kick out of the more far-out stuff. It's not about that at all.
Okay, yes it is.
I might be Lexicon Steve and all into canon and things like that, but hey, I was visiting the Magic Factory! This is where people come to work every day and create fun labels for potion bottles and design hot pink costumes for Umbridge and choreograph wand battles and generally have a blast. That's the thing...these people, from Vanessa to Dan and Emma to Matt from Electronic Arts, are just like us: they're fans of Harry Potter and of what they're doing. They're so excited to show off the magic they've created that they can hardly sit still. And I got to spend the day with them.
I have so much to tell you all. I can't wait to share it, to let you know just what an amazing team you have working on these films for you. In a few months I'll write a complete report with every tiny detail of the mind-boggling sets, interviews with Dan, Emma, Evanna, Jason, and others. In the meantime, we'll start working a few bits of the magic into the Lexicon pages. We'll update the family tree. And in a few months...oh, you just wait!
One last thing...David Heyman told me that they use the Lexicon all the time for reference.
All the time. Almost every day, he said.