MinaLima Interview at LeakyCon
Transcribed by Tracey Wong
Laura Reilly: So first, thank you very much for coming and meeting with us. So I know you guys have your session with fans today, so I guess the first thing is just the conference and what brought you here and what was your goal of coming here and showing everyone your work?
Eduardo Lima: I think it was to share all our work and experience… [unintelligible]
Miraphora Mina: I think one of the… Apart from the amazing… [unintelligible]
Eduardo: It’s amazing because they think, “Oh my God, it was exactly how I imagined it.” [unintelligible]
Laura: Okay. So how did you first get involved with everything as a team together with the Harry Potter series?
Miraphora: Well, I was already working for Stuart Craig on previous films. When Potter came along, I was kind of part of his crew. It’s all very crew based, so you don’t necessarily stick with the same team. And he called me and said, “I got this picture that I went to work on with Harry Potter.” I didn’t know – I was like, “Harry who?”
Miraphora: So for about four months… I think he was operating four months before that, and so I went along and started working with him. And then Eduardo joined me on the second movie to come […] do work experience, which then kind of turned in…
Kat Miller: So did you read the book once you got the job?
Miraphora: Yes. Yeah, I did. But it was 2000, so I guess it was still fairly early days, and I probably wouldn’t have read it at that moment if I [were]n’t already a fan. And I had a small child, so I was a bit out of the loop anywhere to what was around. So it was quite a revelation.
Kat: Were you picturing things in your head as you were reading? I know I was. I’m a [unintelligible] artist myself. So when I read through, I could imagine.
Miraphora: Well, the kind of work that I would have done before and I would definitely try [to] find is work that involves historical references and recreating pieces that don’t exist already, so that experience doing contemporary graphics or contemporary films. So it was a marriage of all those things because it was fantasy but also had some rigid references to historical periods, which we then worked out and had massive freedom to work with.
Kat: Never had to really compromise on anything? The directors?
Eduardo: Sometimes we had to.
Miraphora: Yeah, there’s a lot of… I mean, we talked a lot in the presentation about having the freedom we did because on the whole, we did, but it was very much a sort of…
Eduardo: But sometimes we could because we get so excited. [unintelligible] The message needs to be really quick [unintelligible]. There wasn’t any problem getting the director.
Kat: Is there anything you designed that’s completely different from your original thought?
Eduardo: Well, some of the [unintelligible]
Kat: They get more simple.
Eduardo: More simple, because the scene needs to be really quick, so you need to read the…
Miraphora: And in terms of the redesign, the first concepts we showed Stuart Craig for the Weasley shop were… Because we got indulgent, and we were like, “Ooh, packaging!” We love packaging, so it was all [unintelligible] and quite intricate packaging. And because he’s a gentleman, he was like, “It’s just a bit too lovely, and you need to make this vulgar and shake it up.” So we did. We just…
Eduardo: [unintelligible] They thought it was too boring. It needs to be more…
Miraphora: And of course, it’s something that made sense that we were just… We weren’t really the ones who had created that shop. We hadn’t created the shop. The Weasley boys had created the shop, and we’re just the vehicle to do that for them. So then we started to try [to] make colors clash and make the printing techniques wrong so that things weren’t quite aligned, and all those little details…
Miraphora: So those were deliberate decisions to try [to] contribute to the much bigger picture, which is the whole shop.
Eduardo: The printing [unintelligible].
Kat: It all feels very Weasley, so you did okay.
Eduardo: And that was the amazing thing because it was the first time that we could introduce loads of colors on the set of Harry Potter, because if you look back now. it was the one shop that’s just really… It’s bright, and we could [unintelligible].
Kat: Yeah, it was great. I was at the Studio Tour five or six months ago when it opened, and it’s just a blast of color at the end. It’s beautiful. I really love it.
Laura: Now, what is it like designing something that has so much detail or something like the Marauder’s Map or when you know is only going to be on the screen for a short amount of time? Certain things aren’t going to be picked up on. How is it translating such tiny detail into a big movie?
Miraphora: Well, sometimes you know what the shot is if they have done a storyboard already. That’s the ultimate thing. Not that they will necessarily stick to it in the cut, but on the whole, we might know that. But otherwise, we just have to create the whole world and just then hopefully give them enough information that they can then introduce the detail. And then sometimes, you get the other way around as well. You created something, and maybe you’ll notice that, and then you go to the screening, and it’s a hundred-foot poster on the screen.
Miraphora: It’s one detail, and you think, “Ahh!”
Laura: Speaking of [which], is there anything that you can look back on for the earlier films that maybe had done something differently or interpreted differently?
Eduardo: [unintelligible] My first piece of graphic that I had to design was the pumpkin juice, the label. [unintelligible] I knew if I could go back now [unintelligible]. I think that that’s [unintelligible] Because when you go back [unintelligible], “Oh, we should have had those. Oh, why didn’t we use that before? Why did we do that in the film?”
Laura: Now, do you remember – since you [unintelligible] up with the first film – what was the first piece you did for the film?
Eduardo: Oh, we were [unintelligible].
Miraphora: Yeah, I think it was the acceptance letters. It was just sort of irony because it was like I had been accepted at 11 into Hogwarts…
Miraphora: … and is the beginning of a very good journey. So that was, yeah, quite a…
Laura: And you mentioned in the panel that with the letters, it had to be a very lightweight material because they were falling. So what is it like having to take into account materials or the way [unintelligible] for the Weasley twins, the shoddy packaging or something like that? So taking that into account, such a special…
Miraphora: Well, the filmmakers are very… It’s a craft [that] involves [not only] lots of skills but also lots of new experiences. So all the time, we were working things out according to the needs of the scene. So I think that might be the first time. I don’t know. I remember the owls had to fly with letters in their beaks, so it wasn’t like there was a measure or a standard that we could follow. So it wasn’t until we made the real envelope with the real stamp on the back and seal on the back that… Then, of course, the animal handlers came back to me and said, “This isn’t working out. Can you change it?” So it’s a very organic process in every respect. And the same with the flying letters that we knew we had to make thousands, so we went straight to the special effects supervisors and asked, “Is this paper okay? That’s for a test.” So there’s quite a lot of testing and experimenting.
Eduardo: [unintelligible] and of course, that scene they made things float, and the special effects say, “Oh, that is too heavy to fly.” So we had to do… it turns out that we had to cut things out. I remember we spent all night cutting paper for the special effects.
Kat: What’s your process like for the graphics? Do you draw? Do you use Photoshop?
Miraphora: Photoshop is our main friend and…
Eduardo: [unintelligible] We still…
Miraphora: There’s a lot of drawing as well, and scanning. So we said before that it was a melting pot for other materials and other techniques to come through as a sort of vehicle to the final product. So we know what we want to [unintelligible] at the end. But there’s a lot of… the Marauder’s Map. It looks like a handmade thing because it is originally drawn by hand, and it’s scanned in so that we can have the facility to make multiples because we had to…
Eduardo: At the end, it was because the demands of the field are so big that [unintelligible]. Because on the first two films, we didn’t even have a photocopier [unintelligible] cut and paste all day.
Kat and Laura: Wow.
Miraphora: [unintelligible] Photoshop [unintelligible].
Kat: Oh yeah. I bet.
Miraphora: And it’s fantastic.
Kat: Is it really different creating things that you know won’t be animated? Like the Albus Dumbledore book or the Marauder’s Map with the special effects layer on it as opposed to something like The Quibbler that doesn’t move? Or like a poster?
Miraphora: Yeah, I suppose there is less control because we don’t quite know, especially, I think, with the footsteps and the labels on the map, perhaps we might have done that a bit differently with more conversation. But in terms of photographs…
Eduardo: And sometimes the challenging bit is we’ve designed the Daily Prophet for a scene [unintelligible]. Every single space where they’re going to have a [unintelligible].
Laura: Once they put in those animations, do they come back and show it to you? Like, consult you further or…
Eduardo: Well, sometimes [unintelligible].
Miraphora: Timeframe for when we were…
Kat: Far from [unintelligible].
Laura: What would you consider your most challenging piece that you had to do? Or something, it was a big project that you’re really proud of or something.
Kat: That must have been so fun.
Miraphora: It was, yeah. To design it, because…
Miraphora: Once we had established a palette of colors and [unintelligible].
Miraphora: A lot of decisions were made very quickly [unintelligible].
Eduardo: Like everything done. Most of this stuff within our department [unintelligible].
Kat: Do you have a favorite?
Miraphora: A favorite prop from in there?
Kat: Yeah. Or in general.
Eduardo: I really like the [unintelligible]. The rubber chicken.
Eduardo: Because again [unintelligible].
Laura: Now, what about the Black family tree? That’s another big thing that you did. How was it designing that?
Miraphora: Oh, again, it was just a joy. The first thing to do was to go… as we do with a lot of things…
Eduardo: [unintelligible] They had such a good collection of tapestry. [unintelligible]
Miraphora: Do a lot of research. [unintelligible] to find out what [unintelligible] you should have. That wasn’t strictly [unintelligible] but to know how much detail you could get in…