The Very First Harry Potter Hogwarts Scene Almost Saw the Entire Set Burn Down

The Very First Harry Potter Hogwarts Scene Almost Saw the Entire Set Burn Down
Image credit: Warner Bros.

The Harry Potter movies were almost off to the greatest start imaginable when the first Great Hall scene caused a local fire — but at least the kids had fun!

In the modern era, many directors and showrunners stick almost entirely to computer effects, and only a few people (like Christopher Nolan, for one) still advocate for the usage of practical effects. Back when the Harry Potter movies were being made, however, it was always a mix of the two, and there was no other way around it.

The traditions and mindset of using practical effects were still strong, but some things — like, well, all the magic happening throughout the Harry Potter franchise — required CGI.

But apart from dragons and spells, the first director of these movies, Chris Columbus, initially resorted to using practical effects to their fullest.

This ambition, however, ran face-first into the stone wall of reality with the very first Great Hall scene at Hogwarts. In fact, the attempt to use practical effects almost caused the entire set to be set ablaze, which could’ve led to a disaster!

“When all the kids file into the Great Hall for the first time, we see hundreds of floating candles in the air. And then something horrible happened — the flames of the candles started to burn through the clear string holding them and started to drop! We had to get everybody out of the set — and then we shot it two more times, telling ourselves, ‘We’re just going to add CGI candles,’” director Columbus told The New York Times.

While all the adults were panicking, the kid actors were not concerned by the dropping candles and local fires in the slightest. In fact, they found it to be quite an enjoyable little adventure, and Daniel Radcliffe was among those happy little faces.

“I’m sure Chris was more stressed out by it, but as a kid, you’re like, ‘This is really funny,’” Radcliffe shared in the same interview.

Well, as you might have guessed by now, in the end, all those floating candles were lit by nothing but the VFX artists’ efforts — but at least, we have to respect Chris Columbus’s grand vision of putting actual burning candles on strings up in the air.

Source: The New York Times