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top team

Movie Magic

The UK’s newest attraction opened in March, bringing together two huge, global brands. The top team talk about the magic of creating a new attraction

Kathleen Whyman • managing editor • attractions management

Sarah rootS Vice president

What is Warner Bros. Studio tour London – the Making of harry Potter? It’s the UK’s newest attraction and is the coming together of two huge, global brands – Warner Bros. and Harry Potter. It’s been put together by filmmakers, so the quality, design and presentation are of an extremely high standard. I don’t think the UK has ever seen anything like it.

What’s the visitor experience? It’s access to the authentic sets, costumes and props from the making of the Harry Potter films. Our drive is to bring that to life and make the experience engaging and interactive so visitors can enjoy and under- stand the context around the sets and props and costumes. The experience starts with a 12-minute

film, then visitors are led into the Great Hall. This is the only part of the tour that’s guided and visitors are introduced to the concept of what the experience is about. During the Studio Tour there are visuals and special effects, touchscreens, green screen and photo opportunities. We’ve also got media featuring freshly filmed interviews with the cast and crew and a digital guide from Antenna with unseen footage from behind the scenes, including


Daniel Radcliff’s first audition. People will be surprised at how much there is to do and also by the sheer scale of it.

Where was the inspiration for the tour? Normally a set is temporary and is destroyed at the end of the film. Here the sets were very permanently built and remained in place for the duration of the 10 years that Harry Potter was filmed. The sets and props were created with pains- taking care and craftsmanship. They’re a showcase of British talent. That was the driver – it would be such a shame to destroy them when they could be shared.

how did you work with the films’ crew? All of the original heads of departments were here throughout. Oscar-winner Stephenie McMillan was the set dresser and John Richardson, who won a BAFTA for the film’s special effects, was employed to work on the Studio Tour. So was Stuart Craig, the creative designer for all of the films, and the one who interpreted JK Rowling’s descriptions and came up with the final design. In the attraction we have some lovely visuals that show how Craig’s sketches became full design drawings that then became shots in the film.

how can the attraction be developed? We’ve got lots of research planned so we can find out from our visitors what works well. We have the ability to move things out of storage, swap sets in and out, add

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“a Start uP Project With tWo PoWerfuL, gLoBaL BrandS iS very unuSuaL and irreSiStiBLe”

things, or just make small changes. We can adapt to trends if something comes up outside of this world that we can link into a certain element of the attraction. We have expansion space, which we will

use in the future. And there’s the option to showcase other Warner Bros. films that have been made at Leavesden.

What’s your day-to-day role? When I joined in October 2010 my role was project management – creating our brand and position and identifying our audience, then developing operational plans and building the team. Now that we’re open my role is more of a general manager. I also look at how we respond to feedback and how we invest our development capital. In the past I’ve worked with Tussauds

Group, the National Trust and, most recently, the National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory at Greenwich, UK. I had no plans to leave, but then Warner Bros. presented me with the opportunity to work on a start up project with two power- ful, global brands. These two factors are very unusual and irresistible.

AM 2 2012 ©cybertrek 2012

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