As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

July 15, 2011

HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY by Brian Sibley, 2010

Harry Potter Film WizardryLearn why Yule Ball ice sculptures never melt, where Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts are really "minted," how to get a Hippogriff to work with actors, the inspiration behind Hogwarts castle, and why Dementors move the way they do. Written and designed in collaboration with the cast and crew that brought J. K. Rowling's celebrated novels to the silver screen, Harry Potter: Film Wizardry delivers an enchanting interactive experience, transporting readers to the wizarding world by sharing filmmaking secrets, unpublished photography and artwork, and exclusive stories from the stars. (Amazon)

Review by Amy Finnegan -- Reader, Writer, Bookshop Talk Host

Out of the dozens of books that I’ve read in the last year or so, there are three that I find myself recommending over and over and over again. THE HELP, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTOTO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, and the one that I’m recommending now: HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY, from “The Creative Team Behind the Celebrated Movie Series” (with author credit officially going to Brian Sibley).

So, what is it that’s so fascinating about this book, which looks at first glance to be little more than a gimmicky souvenir book?

From Wikipedia
I’ll start with the forward, quoting from series producer, David Heyman. He says, “It all began one winter morning in 1997. My assistant Nisha came into my office to recommend an unpublished manuscript by a first-time novelist that she had enjoyed. “What is it called?” I asked. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” she replied. “Mmmm,” I mumbled skeptically . . . . That evening, I decided to read a few pages before going to sleep. I read and I read and I read, and by the time I lay the book down and looked at my watch, it was 4:00 a.m. Jo Rowling’s writing was so vivid, her imagination so rich . . . I knew immediately that I wanted to make it into a film . . . ”

Now, keep in mind that Heyman went after the film rights before the first book was even published, and the publisher itself (Bloomsbury in London), by no means predicted the book to be a bestseller! Rowling’s advance was (wait for it) only 2,500 British pounds – roughly $5000. Yup. The first printing was only 500 copies! Double yup.

In HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY, David Heyman explains what happened to a handful of these first edition copies: he sent them to his lucky top tier screenwriters to see if anyone was interested in penning the script. First round . . . not a single one of them wanted to write the script (Idiots! And they even got to keep their 1st editions!) But in a later round, the wonderful Steve Kloves, who has written all but one of the scripts, signed on.

Image found on Amazon

Another story that Heyman tells early in the book is about casting Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. I’d heard the legend, but wasn’t sure how accurate it was. Turns out, it’s entirely true: they had been auditioning young boys to play Harry for nine long months, and with just three months before filming was scheduled to begin, they had yet to find their main character! But lo and behold, Heyman happened to be at a play one night, and sitting one row in back of him was 10-yr-old Daniel Radcliffe, every bit the boy-wizard they’d been looking for. Fortunately, Daniel also happened to be an actor, and funny enough, his parents had already been approached by the film’s director, Chris Columbus, about Daniel auditioning because Columbus had seen him in the BBC adaptation of David Copperfield. But (you may not believe this part), Daniel’s parents hadn’t wanted him to audition, and turned down the offer. But once Heyman suggested it too, the Radcliffes finally agreed, and the rest is cinematic history.

Daniel was taking a bath when he learned that he’d won the role :)

These are just a few of the cool behind-the-scenes stories that are told in this highly entertaining book.


Then there is all the mock memorabilia! I’ve seen books like this before, but nothing that even comes close to how cleverly it’s done here. Harry’s acceptance letter to Hogwarts, a four-page fold out with a map of Diagon Alley (along with a creepy Borgin and Burkes catalog), an Advanced Potion Making text book with adhesive labels for your own home-brewed potions, a Quidditch World Cup Programme, an invitation to the Yule Ball, and among many other such treasures, your very own Marauder’s Map! Oh, yes, my friends, it can all be yours!

But wait, there’s more!

Image found on Amazon
I would have bought this book for the concept art alone. Or to be more precise, for this particular sketch of Hogwarts and its surrounding grounds, penned in a matter of minutes by J.K. Rowling herself, for the production designer. (Click on the photo on the left, and it will enlarge so you can see the details)

I bought this book when it first came out last October, and when I went to order more copies a month later (for Christmas gifts), they were backordered, with no availability in sight. Apparently, like me, others had discovered it and couldn’t wait to share it with all their friends.

It’s your lucky day, though, because it’s now readily available for under $24, which seems like the deal of a century if you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan like me!

In a nutshell, HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY is 160 pages of pure awesomeness!!

(This book has no “adult” content to speak of, so I won’t bother with a content table for it.)

Book formats:


For those of you who have read all the books, I'd love to know what you think about the movies. And for those who have seen the movies, and not read the books, I'm curious if the movies have made you want to read the books, or do you feel like you already "know" enough of the story? Sound off in the comments section :)

4 comments:

Ems said...

I'm a die-hard fan of both the books and the films. I'm lucky that I can approach them as separate entities, because some people I know have ripped the films to shreds because they're not 'identical' to the books. Taken as brilliant films in their own right, they definitely hold their own in my opinion.

I have this book on my wish list...I may have to bump it up and give myself an early birthday present!

Laura said...

Another die-hard fan here. (We even bought a copy of HP and the Philosopher's Stone when we visited England!) Some parts of the movies irk me--little random bits that were changed for no apparent purpose--like changing the location of Snape's death from the Shrieking Shack to the boathouse. But the overall story arcs and emotions in the movies are true to the books, and if an 8-movie collectors' set comes out on Blu-ray I will definitely but it.

And I'll have to buy the Film Wizardry book!

Amoniel said...

I am a crazy must-make-everything-I-can-that-looks-like-something-from-Harry-Potter fan :] Loved the books, loved some of the movies, and I really want this book.

Kim said...

I love the HP books SO much, and I love the movies a lot. To me, they are two related but totally separate things, which is maybe why I can enjoy them both. I know one thing for sure, though: I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!