Bludgers and Broomsticks at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
MuggleNet was invited to look around Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter’s brand-new feature, Bludgers and Broomsticks. Beginning on July 18 and running until September 1, to coincide with the British school summer holidays, it profiles the games and sports in the Harry Potter films.
On joining the line to get into the tour, we were all handed special Bludgers and Broomsticks badges to wear. As we went through the tour, there were some smaller nods toward the theme and other, more noticeable ones. For example, in the Great Hall, hanging above one of the tables was one of the brooms that Fred and George make their great escape on in Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. Further on, the Gryffindor common room was decked out for a post-Quidditch match celebration party, complete with butterbeer and banners.
In the green screen area, Quidditch balls zoomed overhead on wires while the green screen technology was on display, along with a selection of brooms. There were plenty of Quidditch outfits on display as well. I couldn’t remember if they had all been there previously or not, but they were all great to look at. The rattling crate of balls as seen in the first film was also present, and the rather alarming clunking sound that it made when operated by a member of staff could be heard by all in the sound studio! It was great to see this in action, as well as Madam Hooch’s outfit, the bottle of Skele-Gro from the second film, and several of Harry’s outfits too. As always, there was the chance to ride a broom in front of a green screen and see how the technology worked for yourself.
Just around the corner from this, however, was my favorite addition to the tour for this feature: broomstick making. Although you couldn’t make one yourself, a workshop was set up, and the two staff members working there with the brooms had worked on the Potter films for ten years. In addition to displaying brooms they had already made, they were also in the process of making new ones for the purpose of showing people how it was done. Listening to them talk about the process was fascinating, and I could have stayed there all day.
The staff member informed us that the handles of the brooms were all made from different woods sourced from orchards, and it was a challenge to find the right shape. For brooms such as the Nimbus 2000, a very specific shape of stick had to be found. The wood for “school brooms” didn’t matter so much, and there was one on display that was made out of a piece of an apple tree. The tail sticks, however, had to be sourced from Italy. The amount of careful work that went into making just the broomsticks alone reiterated to me how much craftsmanship and dedication went into making all the props in the Potter films.
The staff member also said that before Potter, anything that was made for a film was discarded straight after filming had finished. Potter had changed that since people had realized that these objects had a life.
There was also the opportunity here to pick up the very Nimbus 2000 that Daniel Radcliffe carried in the third film. This is called a hero prop (too heavy for a stunt person to use and only shown in close-up scenes). It was surprisingly heavy to hold! This was due to the twigs and metal that make up the bottom of the broom.
Before moving outside, there was one more addition to this feature: a board game, called Snitch Snatcher! MinaLima created the game for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but unfortunately, it got cut. It was great to see, though.
Outside, there was one of the chess pieces set up on a chessboard to have a picture taken with, as well as find out just how the chess pieces worked. Back inside again, in Diagon Alley, three Quidditch players, dressed in Gryffindor robes, stood outside Quality Quidditch Supplies, posing for pictures complete with a Snitch and Bludger.
Following this, was a section devoted to concept art. Several pieces of concept art relating to Quidditch were displayed here, and the knowledgeable staff member explained how the different props were visualized by different artists. The staff member also showed us a stunt version of the Beater’s bat – which is made of rubber so that no one gets hurt.
As always, the staff and everyone at the Studio Tour were very friendly and helpful, and it was a great day out. If you’re heading there this summer for the Bludgers and Broomsticks feature, then enjoy yourself. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, then make sure you get them soon before you miss out. Thanks again to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour for having us.