On the set of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, the child actors posed a problem for the film crew, who had to make up for it several times during the editing process. Chris Columbus returns to this concern which he did not expect.
Filming a movie with young children can be complicated and director Chris Columbus paid the price from September 2000 to March 2001 working with Daniel Radcliffe (11), Rupert Grint (12) and Emma Watson (10) on Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone.
At the time, young actors were inexperienced. Grint and Watson never set foot on a set and Radcliffe only had a small role in The Tailor of Panama and in a two-part TV movie about David Copperfield (in which Maggie was already in Smith, future professor McGonagall).
In one of the makings of the first feature film of the saga, the director Chris Columbus confides his difficulty working with these three stars in the making:
The problem of the early days [de tournage], and it’s a problem that kids have a lot, is that they have this rapture on their face, they can’t help but smile, even though it’s a serious scene.
“In the early days, out of 10 takes, you were lucky if you had one you could keep”, continues cinematographer John Seale. (…) “So we had to run three or four cameras.”
And Columbus completes:
It was important for me to have a camera on each of them, in case one was tired or the other hadn’t had their sugar fix or were looking at the camera … And it was 1000 things around them. (…)
I never knew when the kids were going to deliver the performance I needed.
“This is the reason why the film is so ‘cut’ [au montage], we pass very quickly from a close-up of a child’s face to another, as it was impossible to get an entire scene that was perfect [pour tous]. Thanks to multiple cameras [de John Seale], I was able to seize good here, good there. It was almost a documentary, it’s crazy to shoot a film under these conditions (…). “
In short, the good humor of the children made the editor Richard Francis-Bruce (Seven, La Ligne verte, Rock) and Columbus tear their hair out. However, it is this good atmosphere on the set that must have contributed to give the film its incomparable atmosphere.
The sequel, The Chamber of Secrets, will stay in that same spirit before the saga switches to a darker aesthetic and tone with the arrival of Alfonso Cuarón for The Prisoner of Azkaban. For their part, the children will grow up, will become more accustomed to the constraints of a shoot and will learn to become real professionals.
20 years after the start of its cinematic launch, the saga has become cult for an entire generation, along with a few other films and sagas, including these: