Magic Happens

The Marauder’s Map in the Harry Potter movies. Warner Bros.

When designing the Harry Potter universe on screen, everything had to be consistent. It’s an elaborate world and just one slip could ruin the magic.

The filmmakers faced one major problem over and over again: the book series wasn’t finished. Half of the Harry Potter movies were made before J.K. Rowling finished the books. So when some things were introduced early in the story, it wasn’t clear how important they would be later on.

One complicated prop in particular needed to reveal a lot more: The Marauder’s Map. It is a magical map of Hogwarts’ grounds that reveals the location of everyone on it. The story map itself had a complicated design. It was created by Harry’s father, James Potter, and his friends Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin while they were themselves students at Hogwarts a couple of decades earlier. The physical map’s design was whimsical, and reflected the cunning, craftiness, good imagination and intelligence of its creators and having flickering, animated and handwritten lettering helped.

The map first appears in Harry’s third year at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry uses it to discover Peter Pettigrew was at Hogwarts. It is useful, and Harry uses the map on many occasions after that.

Miraphora Mina, co-founder of the graphic design firm MinaLima, was one of the three people who designed everything in the Harry Potter movies. The scope of the map’s importance after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was not yet known or that it will have to show parts of Hogwarts that weren’t known or shown in earlier films.

She solved the problem by making it a little more magical. She designed in such a way that when you unfold it, it’s a mystery 🙂 She designed the map with layers so they were able to keep adding new layers to the map, and new layers of school, into the design of it. Because it is enormous, the map is folded to make it travel size for Harry’s convenience 🙂 With each subsequent movie, different parts of the folded map were revealed, with previously unknown parts of Hogwarts added on. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a whole corridor is added on the seventh floor. The map was based on the architectural drawings of Hogwarts made by Stuart Craig.

The souvenir version is pretty good too…

The coast is clear! Mummy is away! 🙂

We solemnly swear we are up to no good!

Mischief Managed

Let’s have a Harry Potter party for Halloween!

Without the troll! We’re all good friends already 🙂

Little Puffles and Jay are reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published 20 years ago today.

From an idea born on a train journey to its creation in a small café in Edinburgh, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone started a global phenomenon. It has sold over 450 million copies worldwide in 79 languages, inspired a major movie franchise, a spellbinding theatre production and captivated readers of all ages.

Harry Potter first came to life on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990 when Joanne Rowling dreamt up the young wizard and his friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley.

And trains feature prominently in the story. The Hogwarts Express took the young wizards from the adult world of London to the separate children’s world at Hogwarts.

On the Hogwarts Express
Getting off the Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando
Waiting at Platform 9 3/4 for the Hogwarts Express

Over the next five years, the author developed plots for seven books – writing mostly in note form and longhand – set partly in the wizarding world and partly in a somewhat fictionalised modern-day England. The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin – were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag.

Moving to Edinburgh with baby daughter Jessica in 1993, Joanne Rowling, who was living on benefits at the time, began writing in a café as she expanded her story. She sent the completed manuscript to a number of publishers – and at one point received 12 rejection letters in a row. Allegedly, most publishers were of the opinion that eight-year-olds would not read such a long book. The first book had 233 pages. The fifth book came in at a whopping 766 pages and eight-year-olds read every single page!

Publishing house Bloomsbury saw the story’s potential. Nigel Newton, the co-founder and chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc., gave the photocopied manuscript to his eight-year-old daughter Alice to read. Newton recalls, “She came downstairs an hour later, transported as if in a daze and said, ‘Dad this is so much better than anything else. You’ve gotta publish this.'”

The editorial team did advise Joanne Rowling not to publish under her full name as they feared boys would not read a book written by a woman. She doesn’t have a middle name so added a K, in tribute to her grandmother Kathleen, to her own initial of J.

Just 500 copies of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone were initially printed. Some of the very first reviews described Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as “the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl” and “a hugely entertaining thriller” with “all the makings of a classic”. Glowing as they were, those early reviews almost undersell the eventual success of the book and its six sequels.

The books have collectively sold more than 500 million copies, making them the best-selling series of all time — with the final four novels consecutively setting records for the fastest selling book in history. The series has been translated into 73 languages and adapted into eight hugely popular films, the films becoming the second highest grossing film series of all time, as well as spurring spin-off books and films and a lucrative body of merchandise, including Lego! If you own a first-edition Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone in hardback, you’re in luck. One sold in 2016 for £43,750.

The original eight-year-olds are now parents, introducing their own children to Harry, his friends and the wizarding world. The fandom is still going strong — with conventions, theme parks, an international sporting competition and even a music genre — wizard rock or “wrock”. Harry Potter combines several irresistible elements — unflappable friendships, the triumph of good over evil, love over hate, humour, a world steeped in secrets and dazzling magic.

Bloomsbury had to add secrecy and logistics to its core business of publishing! Nigel Newton recalls how the finished manuscript of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was so carefully guarded that he was involved in a personal dead letter drop-style plot.

Christopher Little, J.K. Rowling’s agent, summoned Nigel Newton to The Pelican pub in Fulham for a drink, in circumstances of extraordinary secrecy.

In an interview recorded in a new book, J K Rowling: A Bibliography 1997 -2013 by Philip W Errington, Newton said: “So I drove… in a state of high alert. And I went in and there was a massive Sainsbury’s plastic carrier bag at this feet. He said nothing about that and I said nothing and he just said ‘Drink?’ and I said, ‘a pint, please’. So we stood at the bar and drank our pints and said nothing about Harry Potter. But when we left I walked out with the carrier bag. It was a classic dead letter drop.”

He added: “By this stage the series was so enormous that I was almost frightened to be in physical possession of it. My wife and three children were all enormous fans themselves so I couldn’t say anything to them. I shoved it under the bed. I had another typescript sitting there so I stuck the top four pages of David Guterson’s East of the Mountains on the top and then stayed up all night reading it, which my wife did find a bit odd. There was no question of showing any of it to her. Even then I was putting bits of it in the safe.”

The next day, he said, he drove straight to Rowling’s editor, Emma Matthewson, at Bloomsbury to hand it over with deep relief.

The books were arguably the most-anticipated children’s books of all time, with legions of young fans desperate to find out the next story and how it all ends. Rowling’s editor Emma Matthewson worked only on a computer which was disconnected from the internet, ensuring hackers could not penetrate her files, as her team took steps to secure her house.

By the time the seventh and final book,​​ Harry Potter and the Deathly​​ Hallows, was being finished, excitement about the story had reached such fever-pitch that the small team permitted to see the drafts were compelled to invent false names. A first draft was code named “Edinburgh Potters”; a name considered so​ dull no one would seek to read it. Other versions were printed under “The Life and Times of Clara Rose Lovett”.

The logistics involved drop-shipping 11 million hardcover books into 82 countries all over the world, in a 24-hour time zone, to prevent any early copies being opened by corrupt border guards. By the seventh book, some fans were queuing up for two days before the release date for the book. We didn’t… We went to Target at 8am when it opened and got the book without any queuing. Then spent the whole weekend reading it…

The first film adaptation, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, was produced by Warner Brothers in 2001. Seven more followed, concluding with the release of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 2011. It shot all three of its stars to fame, with Emma Watson, who played Hermione, now on track to be the highest-earning actress of 2017.

JK Rowling with Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson at the 2001 UK premiere of “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone”

The franchise has spun into theme parks, with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort seeing thousands of visitors a day. As is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter, in London. The franchise alone is reported to be worth an estimated $25 billion.

A replica of Hermione’s dress for the Yule Ball, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Yours for 240.95 (2012 price)
The cupboard under the stairs, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Tucked under the front stairs of number four, Privet Drive was Harry’s first ‘bedroom’ – a forgotten, cramped and rather cluttered storage cupboard. Set decorator Stephenie McMillan sourced many of the assorted props from her own basement.
Great Hall in Hogwarts Castle, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Gryffindor Common Room, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Dumbledore’s Office, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
The Weasley’s Kitchen, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Diagon Alley, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in the US, you can shop in Diagon Alley 🙂

Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
We solemnly swear that we are up to no good…

Best of all was the Butterbeer 🙂 It took nearly three years for Chef Steven Jayson, Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Universal Parks & Resorts,and his team to come up with a workable real-world recipe for this magical, mythical brew. Like Harry Potter land, Butterbeer became an overnight success, and it’s still going strong. The recipe is a well guarded secret…

Some interesting facts…

  • JK Rowling went from not being able to afford to photocopy her manuscript to becoming one of the world’s wealthiest women, worth an estimated £650 million.
  • The author has 10.5 million followers on Twitter, including Puffles and Honey, which she uses to air her views. She is known for being very outspoken and often ends up in high-profile spats.
  • She based quidditch on baseball. It has now become a sport with teams at many universities and its own world cup tournament. There are 700 possible fouls that can be made in the game of quidditch.
  • Harry Potter’s birthday is July 31, 1980. His creator’s birthday is also July 31, but she was born in 1965.
  • JK Rowling said she frequently saw crying girls in bathrooms when she was younger, hence the inspiration for Moaning Myrtle. While playing schoolgirl ghost Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, actress Shirley Henderson was actually 37.
  • To become better acquainted with their movie characters, the three main actors were asked to write essays about them. Emma Watson wrote 16 pages about Hermione, Daniel Radcliffe wrote a single page on Harry, while Rupert Grint, who played Ron, didn’t even turn his in.
  • Rupert Grint dressed as his female drama teacher and rapped about Ron Weasley for his audition tape. His rap began, “Hello, my name is Rupert Grint, I hope you don’t think I stink.”
  • Contrary to popular belief, the “t” at the end of Voldemort is silent. The name comes from the French and means “flight of death”.
  • Rowling based 11-year-old Hermione on herself at the same age. She made Hermione’s patronus (wizard’s spirit animal) an otter, which is her own favourite creature.
  • The idea for Sirius Black’s tattoos came from those used in Russian prison gangs. The markings identify the person as someone to be feared and respected.
  • Dementors, the deadly phantoms that guard Azkaban Prison, represent depression and were inspired by JK Rowling’s struggle with the condition after her mother died from multiple sclerosis in 1990. “It’s so difficult to describe (depression) to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness,” she has said. “I know sadness – to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling – that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what the Dementors are.”
  • One of the flying cars used in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets was stolen from the set. It was discovered seven months later after an anonymous caller rang to tell police they’d found it.
  • In 2007, when asked by a fan whether Hogwarts’ headmaster Albus Dumbledore had ever been in love, JK Rowling responded, “I always thought of Dumbledore as gay.” He fell in love with Gellert Grindelwald.
  • Michael Jackson once approached the author about making a musical based on the books. She turned the idea down.
  • For a long time, JK Rowling planned to have “scar” as the last word in the series, but she changed the last sentence to read, “All was well.”
  • Rowling killed Hedwig (Harry’s owl) because it represented the loss of innocence and security. Her fate marked the end of Harry’s childhood.
  • Two alternative titles for the final book were Harry Potter And The Elder Wand and Harry Potter And The Peverell Quest. She decided against the latter because she thought it sounded too corny.
  • Some of the original names of the books’ characters – before JK Rowling changed them – included Hermione Puckle, Neville Puff, Draco Spinks and Lily Moon, as an alternative to Luna Lovegood.
  • Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy, originally auditioned for the roles of Harry and Ron.
  • Having written half of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, the author realised she’d created a “giant hole” in the plot which she had to go back and fix, which is why the book is so long.
  • While filming Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, the pockets of Tom Felton’s (Draco Malfoy) Hogwarts robes were sewn shut to stop him sneaking food on to the set, meanwhile other cast members asked for pockets for cigarettes.
  • Dumbledore is an Old English word for bumblebee. JK said she chose the name because she pictured Dumbledore humming to himself around Hogwarts.
  • The writer almost killed the character of Ron Weasley halfway through the series when she “wasn’t in a very happy place” in her life. She now believes that she wouldn’t have been able to go through with it, but at the time considered killing Ron off “out of sheer spite”.
  • When asked by a fan how she chose the shape of Harry’s scar, JK Rowling replied, “Because it’s a cool shape. I couldn’t have my hero sport a doughnut-shaped scar.”
  • Richard Harris – Dumbledore in the first two films – only took the role after his granddaughter swore she’d never speak to him again if he didn’t.
  • Magic potion ingredients toadwax and mugwort may sound like made-up words, but in fact Rowling got most of them from a real book, Nicholas Culpeper’s The Complete Herbal.
  • “If I had any power, I would have the power of invisibility,” says the writer. “This is a little bit sad but I would probably sneak off to a café and write all day.”
  • West Ham is the only real football club mentioned in the books. One of JK Rowling’s oldest friends is a West Ham supporter.
  • The seeds of a relationship between Ron’s sister Ginny Weasley and Harry were subtly planted throughout the series, such as during the quidditch match in which she beat rival Cho Chang.
  • While filming on set, the young actors did real homework to make the setting more realistic. While filming the series, the actors weren’t allowed to play contact sports in case they were injured. Dominoes anyone?
  • To mark the 20th anniversary, Bloomsbury has published new Hogwarts house editions of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

Little Puffles and Honey are excited to visit the exhibition at the British Library Harry Potter: A History of Magic later this year. But now it’s time to see the movie…

No Butterbeer, but we make the best Singapore Sling… It’s red and sweet, and actually gives you a bit of a buzz unlike the theme park Butterbeer which has to be family friendly. And it goes well with coco crunch popcorn and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, but particularly the cherry flavour 🙂

All is well.

Back From The Future

We’ve arrived!

That’s a bit… miraculous! 88mph is very fast! And scary…

Little bears are at Supanova to hear from Back To The Future stars and legends Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Thomas F Wilson (Biff Tannen).

Tom Wilson and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future III
Christopher Lloyd and Tom Wilson

When Christopher Lloyd received the script for Back to the Future he didn’t get it, and put it in the rubbish bin. Great Scott! His girlfriend at the time convinced him to give the script a go, Christopher Lloyd met with Robert Zemeckis, and the rest is history.

Over four decades, Lloyd has had a prolific and varied career that includes his first film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), Adams Family (1991), Anastasia (1997) and a long running stint on TV show Taxi. At 78 he is still working but it’s Back to the Future that people keep coming back to.

Christopher Lloyd has been on the comic-con circuit for about 10 years now and the only events where Back to the Future takes second place is at the Star Trek conventions 🙂 Lloyd played Commander Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Lloyd says he doesn’t get tiresome being asked the same questions by the fans. He did drive the DeLorean but the “tricky stuff” was done by stunt drivers. His favourite film of the trilogy is number III because he got to have a romance and he likes that it’s a western. Number III is also Tom Wilson’s favourite movie of the trilogy.

Tom Wilson, who is also a stand-up comedian, put together the hilarious Biff’s Question Song, in which he answers repetitive questions such as what’s Michael J. Fox like (he’s nice and no, they didn’t keep in touch) and will there be another sequel (not happening).

And that is what he opened the panel with, a performance of Biff’s Question Song.

2017 is a grand experiment year for Tom Wilson. In 2015, for the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, he gave some rare interviews about the movie, his experience and the role he played. Biff and the Back to the Future trilogy is not something he often spoke about previously. This year he agreed to attend Supanova in Sydney and Perth and several conventions in the US. The experience has been a positive one for both Tom Wilson and the fans.

Tom Wilson is a really lovely guy. And nothing like Biff or relatives Griff and Buford Mad Dog Tannen. Biff’s corrupt political bully character in the second film was famously based on Donald Trump. It’s quite incredible that some people saw him for what he is 30 years ago, yet today, with mounting evidence, others still refuse to see what’s right in front of them. Lloyd says he doesn’t know what he would do if he could go back to 1985 and change the present day.

Back to the Future was Tom Wilson’s first movie. He was hoping for a role as one of Biff’s gang members, but he was paired for the audition with Crispin Glover for the role of George McFly and pairing was perfect. Tom Wilson knew exactly how to go about portraying the quintessential bully Biff Tannen in Back to the Future: He drew from real-life experiences where he was on the other end of the torment.

“A thin and sickly kid, I was pushed around and beaten up by bullies throughout my childhood, until I grew bigger than everybody and it stopped,” Wilson told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “I knew very well how they operate, and specifically the joy they take in scaring people. I’d stared them in the face so often that it wasn’t particularly challenging to do an impression.”

Tom Wilson gets asked about the experience on Back to Future often enough that he carries around copies of an answer sheet with responses to the most common inquiries…

Time’s up!

Time to go Back to the Future 🙂

Supanova Perth 2017

Isabelle will drive 🙂

Rumour Has It

Honey and Isabelle are painting the town gold and pink 🙂

Drinks and dinner first, at a new restaurant…

Drinks at Angel Falls Grill

Dinner was great, next time they’ll choose differ drinks.

Dinner at Angel Falls Grill –
Roraima with cachapa and Angel Falls with cachapa

Before a show Downstairs at the Maj.

Waiting for the show to begin…

Girls night out 🙂

Rumour Has It evokes the inspirational spirit and talent of a mischievous working class diva from Tottenham as she spills intimate details about a meteoric rise that has captured hearts across the globe.

Naomi Price as Adele performs the show as a celebration and showcase of the Grammy award-winner’s music and an intimate insight into her life. Naomi didn’t start out as a ‘mega-fan’, but she soon fell in love with Adele for being so down to earth and not pretentious at all.

I didn’t really know much about her, other than that I loved her songs and knew that she had a Cockney accent. Once we started researching her life, we fell in love with her. She’s everyone’s best friend. I love how personable and approachable she is, which is so refreshing in a world full of vapid celebrity. Once we realised we were telling the story about a girl from humble beginnings who rose to the top through hard work and true talent, the show just came together quite naturally.

Rumour Has It charts the incredible rise of soul sensation Adele live in story and song. Adele’s deliciously frank life story comes alive in the words of Naomi Price backed by an electrifying six-piece band, delivering the greatest hits, including Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Turning Tables, Set Fire to the Rain and the Oscar-winning Skyfall.

Performing cabaret has taught me to be more fearless as a performer, to not be afraid of the audience, and to embrace the moment. You have to be so present when you invite an open conversation with your audience – at any moment during the show, anything could happen! You can never switch off, otherwise you’ll undoubtedly be in for a surprise!

This is the first time the cabaret show as come to Western Australia. Little bears saw the show in Brisbane two years ago and had so much fun, they had to see it again.