When I was there, they were laying the beautiful wooden floor that you see in this picture. Between the pillars on the left and right are fireplaces, some rigged for special effects. Just to give you a sense of the scale: the centres of these archways are 40 feet tall. The top of an actor's head won't reach the base of the statue that you see over there in the central hub area (That base is 8 feet tall). The facade of red brick offices you see in the distance? That's four stories tall. And each office has a desk, chairs, filing cabinets, flowers, pictures, and so on. Each of the green tiles you see on the far wall are 3 feet across.
The Lexicon Visits The Magic Factory
Steve Vander Ark
The first thing I noticed as we walked out of the press marquee and into the studio itself was the size of the place. It's an old factory and the roof is high above, all skylights within a framework of iron girders. The vast space below holds offices and other work spaces, partitioned with plywood walls, a small bustling city under an industrial sky.
A lot more than offices fill that space. The sets dominate everything, of course, huge and magnificent and grand, but odds and ends from the Harry Potter films spill out everywhere you look. These people save everything. Along the walkways between the offices, for example, stand stone basins, the ones which held fire in the corridors of the first film (without the fire, of course, since they're really fiberglass). Huge chess pieces are jumbled together to one side near models of the houses of Privet Drive. Set off by a chain link fence is a huge prop storage area, where everything from Diagon Alley signs to Ford Anglias are stacked nicely, waiting to be called back into service. Plenty of things were never put away in that storage space, however, probably because the folks who work here just couldn't bear to hide all these lovely bits of Potter history. I know I would love to work surrounded by all this amazingly creative flotsam.
The best of it is quite small, tiny details in this cavernous Potter theme park. Bottles and books and copies of the Daily Prophet are everywhere, and each one is a whimsical work of art. Here are some examples of just how delightfully creative all this stuff is.
The clipboard carried by Umbridge has a form on it which reads:The detail is amazing, and all of it is great fun to pick out for a Lexicon geek like me. None of it will ever show on screen, but it's there just the same. Two of Snape's potion jars, for example, are labeled "Exploding Ginger Eyelashes" and "Bouncing Spider Juice." A thick old book on the sideboard in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place is entitled Cooking the Muggle Way by Mordicus Egg. According to Fantastic Beasts, that's the same guy who wrote The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why Muggles Prefer Not to Know--one example of how the production crew has been using the Lexicon.Ministry of Magic - Department of Magical EducationThere's more, but this part caught my eye:
Can you imagine coming to work every day and thinking up those kinds of things? Some people actually do. There is an office for those folks along the far side, near the prop storage. I want to work there.
The entire place is a dazzling combination of large and small. The stunningly huge Great Hall set, with its wooden tables the length of a Quidditch pitch, compared to the cramped and filthy bedroom of Grimmauld Place, on the wall of which hangs a painting depicting that exact same bedroom, dirt and all. The vast overarching ceiling of mid-twentieth century industrial architecture is constantly leaking great fountains of rainwater down onto the chairs and chess pieces and other props below, which are covered with plastic while workers hurry to mop up the flood while we splash past in the puddles.
Everywhere you look, there's more contrast and clutter. On one hand I see a row of real Ford Anglias in storage, lined up on a huge ledge, while on the other I peer at a small shelf scattered with the colourful contents of Skivving Snackboxes. A massive set under construction I see down to our right--which Vanessa tells us is the largest set they've ever constructed and which will hold 400 actors when it's filmed--compares to the intricate Black family crest on each of the plates in the cramped Grimmauld Place kitchen. Near where they're filming today, the battle in the Death Chamber, I see cameras and strobe lights and cables and a massive hanging green screen.and I also see a few chairs in a circle in a corner where the stand-ins play handheld video games and chat idly.
Large and small. And all of it utterly fascinating.
Read the first set report here. I'll be writing a full report to coincide with the release of the film in July.