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Feature: Harry Potter

David Heyman and Guy Miller

The Hungarian Horntail in its natural environment

Film Review talks to the producer of the Harry Potter movies, David Heyman, and to Electronic Arts Game director Guy Miller about their collaboration on the Goblet of Fire game

Are there many parallels between producing a game and producing a film?
DH: Yes, when I look for a project I look for stories that are going to engage me, that are not going to cause me to sit passively in a cinema and veg out. I want to interact. I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to get mad. I want to react to the film. The great thing about games is, not only do I get to react, but the game responds to my reaction and then I respond to the gameís reaction. Itís fantastic.

How closely were you involved with the production of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire game?
DH: Iíve been involved in all the games. I donít create the games. Iím a consultant who is, frankly, a supporter and will help them any way I can.

It must be quite a close-knit relationship then?
GM: Weíve been in this consultation that David was talking about for about five years. Certainly since the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets game that we did and the Quidditch game and the subsequent ones up until this one.
DH: Itís quite easy and quite a seamless relationship in the sense that they do a brilliant job. Itís as simple as that. They do a great job and frankly they do certain things that weíre not able to do because they have more time.
GM: In a lot of ways we canít do certain things as well. Getting that emotional intensity of the character arc is extremely difficult in a video game. But we can do some things that film canít do and film can do some things that we canít do.
DH: We know that they are not going to mess up the universe. Guy and I are fans. And I know thatís where Guy is coming from and Guy knows that is where Iím coming from. So, it makes it a very easy and fluid relationship.

It must be difficult every time a new Harry Potter film comes out to find new ways to approach the game adaptation?
GM: I think the technology drives it as well, as far as the games are concerned. This time round weíve now got three players, which we didnít really do before. Itís always a challenge to come up with some new and innovative aspect to the interaction, but thatís all part of the fun.
DH: Itís funny, everybody asks me the same thing too about the films. ĎOh, youíve been doing this four times. How do you keep it interesting?í But the fact is itís a fantastic world to be a part of and each book does provide new challenges. I mean, in this fourth book, you have the Triwizard Tournament and the Hungarian Horntail sequence. Thereís the underwater scene where we had to create an entirely digital environment. Dan Radcliffe had to act underwater, hold his breath for 40 seconds, perform, put on an oxygen tank with eight divers underwater helping him. Itís hugely challenging and hugely fun. Itís only boring if youíre boring. And I hope Iím not boring, because for me I have to say, itís brilliant. How lucky are we to play in this pen?
GM: It is like being a kid again. Getting up and thinking, ĎHowís the dragon going to act? Howís the blast-ended skrewt going to look? What sort of fire will come out of its backside?í

So, are you planning the next game and film yet?
DH: Oh yes. Iíve already run through the script with Guy Ė a draft that was finished a couple of months ago and itís come on since then. Weíll sit down again with the new version and go through it again. As I said, I donít create the games, but we talk about ideas and if there is something in the story that could be used for gameplay. And frankly, Guy is very helpful to me as a film producer because he is a huge fan and sometimes heíll suggest something and Iíll think, ĎThat would be good,í for the film.

David, are there any particular places you want to go with the next film?
DH: Each film allows us Ė partly because the kids are now older and have more to draw upon as actors and partly because Jo Rowling has written them as more mature Ė to explore different things personality wise. The third film was the first blushes of being a teenager, the fourth film was the first blushes of romance, the fifth film will be Harryís sort of post-traumatic state and his feelings over his responsibility for the death of a fellow student. And also the knowledge that the person who killed his parents is back and heís literally got to take him on. So these nightmares that he is experiencing are about the whole question of, ĎIs he good or is he bad?í and there is a complexity about that which Iím really excited to tackle in the film.

Do you think youíre going to complete the series of Harry Potter films?
DH: From your lipsÖ I donít know. What I know weíre doing is weíre making the fifth one. And after the fourth comes out weíll see how it does and if the fourth does well then weíll be doing the sixth. And when you get to the sixth, how can you not do the seventh? Iím always cautious, but Iím cautiously optimistic.

by Chris Prince

There are more great interviews and features in
Film Review (Jan)

Harry Potter © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Jan), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Jan)
#665, January 2006
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