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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Producers David Heyman and David Barron detail the challenges of splitting the final Harry Potter film into two parts
Throughout the making of the Harry Potter film series, there have been rumours that a few of J.K. Rowling’s massive novels might have to be split into two films to truly capture them in adatption. This was particulary true with the fourth film, the Goblet of Fire, but in the end it was decided to keep it a single entry in the series. But now book seven, the Deathly Hallows, will indeed be split into a part one and part two, and released a year apart from each other beginning in November 2010.

“It will be slightly longer between the release of Half-Blood Prince and the release of The Deathly Hallows, Part 1,” admits producer Davide Heyman, “in the sense that it will be a two year gap instead of the normal year-and-a-half. That’s largely born our of the fact that we’re shooting both Part 1 and Part 2 simultaneously. The shooting period will be longer, thus post-production won’t begin until later.”

Despite the fact that at this point Harry Potter is a well-oiled film “machine,” David Heyman agrees that splitting Deathly Hallows does present some unique challenges. “You obviously need to find the right end point in the book halfway through,” he says. “Each has to be a self-contained unit. Each film so far has been differnet from the one that preceeded it, so we need to do that with Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. There is the challenge of making two separate films that you want to have an identity of their own whie you’re shooting them at the same time. That being said, what is exciting , what works in our favor, is taht we have a very clear sense of what the two films are and what the thematic underpinnings of each part ar, which in itself will provide a distinct nature to each of them.”

Concurs producer David Barron, “It’s crucial that they feel distinct, even though you’re never going to be able to separate them entirely in the sense that Part One is the beginning of the end and Part Two is the end of the end, even though stylistically they should feel like two very different movies. If you look at the landscapes they’re likely to occupy – I say ‘likely,’ because we don’t have scripts yet thanks to the writer’s strike – they will be different. Think of the first part of the book. They don’t arrive at Hogwarts until the final denouement of the first part. In some respects, the first part of that book feels like a road movie. They’re harried and harassed and they’re trying to travel and hide themselves in the Muggle world with only the flimsiest of charms to keep them out of the site of the enemy. That in itself is a very different feeing from anything we’ve had before.”

One of the things that Heyman is most looking forward to is the filming of the climax of the saga – the final battle between Harry and Voldemort – which the entire series has been building towards.

“What I think Jo [Rowling] did so brilliantly is that it’s not an action filled climax,” he says. “It really comes from the very best place, which is from the emotion of the character. I think that’s where Jo really succeeded briliantly in the seventh book. There’s that whole sequence with the figures from Harry’s past, those who have died at Voldemort’s hands, who are standing by him as he prepares. It’s just beautiful. I think that’s the strength of these films and the books – for all the magic, fantasy and visual effects, what people really connect with are the characters.”

One interesting difference between this two-part story and the films that have preceeded it, is the fact that normally the cast gets some time between films, allowing for a bit of a distance in which the cast can evolve as people and, in turn, bring something new to the next film. Will that evolution need to be manufactured?

“That is indeed a challenge,” Barron notes, “but on the other hand, to counter that argument, the fact that they’re able to start at the beginning and work their way through to the end and develop their characters along the way is also useful to them. And having the continuity of working with David Yates, because he is so attentive and clever with them that they all feel (in the nicest way possible) pushed as far as they can possibly be pushed, the results of which show up on screen.”

Adds Heyman, “I don’t think that evolution has to be manufactured, because they can now draw on differnet parts of their characters at different times. They are now at an age where they have had a variety of experiences and can draw on that for their characters. I feel very confident that in both parts they will be able to draw on those different things. It’s all about different aspects of growing up and it’s all in the book. It’s about belief and having belief in one’s self, and preparing to take on Voldemort. It’s going to be great, and I can’t wait to really get to dig in on it.”

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