Interview with Oliver Hollingdale

An interview with Oliver Hollingdale, director of Battle of Hogwarts

Conducted by Keith Hawk

Transcribed by Tracey Wong

Keith Hawk (KH)
Oliver Hollingdale (OH)

KH: is with Oliver Hollingdale, director of the fandom-made film, Battle of Hogwarts. Welcome, Oliver. How are you?

OH: I’m very well, thank you.

KH: Good. Now, where are you at, Oliver?

OH: I live in England. [laughs]

KH: Yes! Where? [laughs]

OH: The birthplace of the wizarding world, as it were.

KH: That sounds good. Now, tell us a little bit about yourself.

OH: Well, I’m a film director. I recently, just a few days ago, graduated at University of Brighton in film. Yeah, I just make films all the time, really enjoy it, and hopefully one day will make a career out of it. Fingers crossed.

KH: Good. Now, is this your first Harry Potter fandom video?

OH: Actually, no. About three and a half years ago, we actually did a fan film, Harry Potter. Yeah, it was – I have to say, it was quite bad though, but at the time it was really good. Got some awards for it. But looking back now, it’s cringeworthy.[laughs]

KH: Well, technology has changed, of course.

OH: Yeah, of course. And you improve, and get better and better. I’m sure all the directors have this problem. They look back at this masterpiece film and think, “Oh no.” [laughs]

KH: Tell me a little bit about Sunnymeade Films. That’s the name brand of the product, right?

OH: Yeah. As I said, we got – Sunnymeade Films is something I started and we have a handful of people who enjoy what they are doing. And it’s very hard, especially, with zero budget. Filmmaking, it’s very hard to have a good solid team to work with, because so many unreliable people who say, “Oh yeah, this is brilliant. Let’s do this, let’s do this,” and then halfway through something, they either lose interest or they get swept off somewhere and then you’re left in the dark.

KH: Right.

OH: So yeah, so it’s just – Sunnymeade Films is just trying to form partnerships with people who are interested and love what they are doing.

KH: Now, how long has the Battle of Hogwarts film actually been taking place? First of all, let’s talk about the film itself. When does it actually take place? Is it the actual Battle of Hogwarts?

OH: Yeah, it takes place at the Battle of Hogwarts, yeah. I mean, everyone I’m sure is familiar with the books, the final book, and the final film. Yeah, as you said, everyone is familiar with that, so I mean, we’re not going to – how the film starts is it starts off with kind of like a few minute montage of students waiting eagerly, forming the shield over the castle, it breaking, all the Death Eaters flying, all that kind of stuff. So we’re not really delving too much on that because, I mean, they spend two and a half hours showing that so we don’t want to replicate it. So we just show kind of a montage up to the credits saying “Battle of Hogwarts” and then it will go to the early morning, following day, and it’s just chaos. There’s students running around everywhere and it’s just focusing on other students around the castle, their little story and their journey and their individual battles.

KH: Now, would you say this is more of a documentary or more of an action film?

OH: More action. It’s focusing on different characters. I kind of think – well, we want to kind of put our own spin onto things, so we don’t want to copy the Harry Potterfilms identical. We want to have our own kind of interpretation into it. But I think if you want to slot it somewhere into Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I would say when the point Harry dies – well, think he dies – and then that whole long process, they carry his body up to the castle and by then it’s in the early hours of the morning. So that happens elsewhere in the castle because it’s such a huge place. There would be numerous battles and other things going on elsewhere. So yeah.

KH: Okay. So basically, it’s everything but the trio’s stories.

OH: Yeah.

KH: So it’s the background of all the other students.

OH: Yeah.

KH: And maybe some adults, too? Or some of the Order?

OH: Yeah. One of them is, I guess – I’m sure if I try to think, “Well, okay -” if I was like – I try to think away from what happened in the film. I think, okay, if there was going to be a battle, I’m sure there will be students trying to flee, trying to run away, get to the Forbidden Forest, trying to hide. I would like to think that maybe some parents and elder students, teachers, would come and help, and stuff like that. So in what we’re doing – I mean, because it’s right slap bang in the middle of the battle, so dialogue-wise – I mean, there’s not much in it. It’s just straight into it, get full underway. And you’ll see students with a group, and than chaos happens and then they’ll disappear, and then other people would appear. It’s just event after event. And I mean, what we also kind of agree on – because we’re all Harry Potterfanatics, what we kind of agree on is the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film was really good. I mean, we really liked it. But it kind of missed key moments which were really good in the books. I mean, the emotional side kind of got left out, I felt. I don’t know where they might have went a bit wrong. Maybe in the pacing of the film. I mean, in the film, you just see Lupin and Tonks just lying there, and it’s like, “Oh great, just a few second shot of them and they’re dead.”

KH: Right.

OH: There’s none of that kind of build-up of music. We want to make a really powerful impact. And we’ve got a fantastic composer, I could give you a link to him, so some of his work and samples. His name is Cyle Hendricks and he’s doing music forBattle of Hogwarts, and he’s creating some awesome stuff. You set it there and it’s just so powerful, and you listen to it on a 5-point system and it’s just amazing.

KH: Now, is he also the one who did the soundtrack for the new trailer?

OH: Yeah, the promotional trailer which I can give you a link to that as well – yeah, I thought it would be quite good to integrate some of his work into the trailer.

KH: Sure. So now, how long is the film exactly?

OH: I’ve done a cut together now. I mean, there’s still lots of visual effects that I need to work on – because I’m doing the visual effects as well, so a lot of work to do. It’s probably going to be about – I think about thirteen minutes, I reckon. Something like that. It’s not terribly long.

KH: Okay.

OH: I mean, like the guys with Auror’s Tale – as I said, they’re really good and I know they’re getting lots of hype and interest. And I can see why, because the Harry Potter films are done. We’re getting some really great interest in Battle of Hogwartswhich is fantastic. Really pleased about that. But again, it’s going to be a one-off thing.

KH: Right.

OH: But Auror’s Tale, it’s in America, it’s going to be different, it’s their kind of take on it. They can create new characters and they can reinvest in all this kind of story. I mean, have you seen the Hunger Games? [laughs]

KH: Of course.

OH: What did you think of it?

KH: Great movie.

OH: Yeah, I really liked it. I kind of wish it was a little bit more violent at parts.[laughs]

KH: Yeah, well then you lose that PG-13 rating.

OH: Yeah, of course.

[KH laughs]

OH: Yeah, I totally understand that, because they want to market to as wide an audience as possible.

KH: Right.

OH: So I do understand that. I’m kind of hoping there’s a directors cut which gets released. [laughs]

KH: Yup.

OH: But yeah, they’ve done loads of fan films on Hunger Games, which is really good and – because it takes place in America. So I mean, if we did a Hunger Games in England, we’ll probably get a lot of interest in that because it will be different. How would it be there? How it would be different? What are the laws like? Is it similar to how it is in dystopian America? So that’s the mentality, I think, that’s going on with Auror’s Tale.

KH: Yeah, the Auror’s Tale is done by a couple of friends of mine up in the New York area.

OH: Yeah.

KH: And yeah, they’re putting together a series of films and they’re doing a really good job. And this is what’s really cool about the Harry Potter fandom, is that it’s not just one group. There’s a whole bunch of groups that are doing different things to show their love for the series. And with you doing The Battle of Hogwarts here, you’re just showing another aspect of the film.

OH: Yeah, of course.

KH: There was another video documentary that came out recently, called The Battle of Hogwarts as well.

OH: Yeah.

KH: But that was a documentary of fourteen years later.

OH: Yeah, that was really good.

KH: And they talked to the people that participated in the battle. So this is nice, you get to see a bunch of different fandom projects coming together, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you have here. When do you think The Battle of Hogwartswill be out?

OH: Ooh. Well, I just recently – well, yesterday – sent the cut to our composer and he’s going to just work on it for the next week and a half, just put all the themes together and stuff. And I’m going to be working simultaneously, putting all the visual effects on, because there’s quite a lot of stuff that needs doing. I would say maybe in about three weeks time, I reckon. I think that’s an optimistic release, I think.

KH: So less than a month?

OH: Yeah, less than a month.

KH: So sometime in July, we should have Battle of Hogwarts documentary.

OH: Yes.

KH: Great. Now, are you going to be able to promote this anywhere at any conventions? Like, LeakyCon is coming in August. Are you going to be trying to get into there to show it?

OH: Are you aware of Ascendio?

KH: Yup. I’m going there.

OH: Yeah, I think it’s being screened there.

KH: Okay.

OH: So yeah, so we’ll be sending a copy there and it will be screened there. I mean, because this has been done with complete zero budget, there’s been no money at all… [laughs]

KH: Right.

OH: …spent on Battle of Hogwarts. So I hope people will be kind of excited that, “Wow, they spent no money on this.”

KH: So are you putting it together on a DVD or something for sale? Or what are you going to be doing to make the money back?

OH: We don’t know yet. I mean, it’s quite hard to – because we’ve had a little bit of a discussion with our team and stuff. It’s quite hard to make profit, because it’s existing content from – I don’t know about the copyright issues and stuff.

KH: Right.

OH: It’s maybe something I might have to research into. I mean, I know the Auror’s Tale – because they’ve done a Kickstarter and they’re getting money through that. I talked to – Leo, I think?

KH: Yeah, Leo Kei.

OH: Leo. Yeah, I had a talk to him and he said I think the proceedings and whatever money is going to go to charity at the end.

KH: Right. Yeah, they’re just using the money from the Kickstarter to all the film costs and film production.

OH: Yeah.

KH: Location costs – because New York is not cheap to film in.

OH: Oh yeah. No, definitely.

KH: And then once they get that done, they’re going to be putting everything out on DVD after the full episodes are completed. And they will be doing that for charity.

OH: Yeah, which I think – that is really good because as I said, I think – again, they’re probably overcome with their copyright issue, that they think, well there’s existing material that we’re adapting and using stuff, and like that. So we can’t really make money out of it. But there are people out there who are willing to spend money on it, which then obviously can go back to charity and there’s all these nice stuff that come out with it.

KH: Right.

OH: So yeah, so it’s really good.

KH: Good.

OH: So yeah, so we’ll have to see. We’ll have to see. [laughs]

KH: I will! Make sure I get an idea of where it’s going to be at Ascendio, because I do want to help you promote that.

OH: Okay, that’s brilliant.

KH: And we look forward to seeing it.

OH: Fantastic.

KH: All right, Oliver. Well, thanks for your time today.

OH: Thank you very much. Thank you.