Los Angeles Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Contemporary Set Exhibit Report

May 15, 2004

Posted by: KristinTLC


TLC reader Rosy attended the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences exhibit on contemporary set design that we told you about back in April, and has sent us an exclusive first report.
Expect movie spoilers, and keep an eye out for soon-to-come photographs and more details on the exhibit from our own TLC image guru and ace reporter Milly.

Thanks for the report, Rosy!
POA set report- Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Bldg. in Los Angeles

All right, I’m finally back from my sabbatical to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry and boy do I have a LOT to tell you. First I have to say that this has been the best Harry Potter experience of my life, better than the premieres of the last two movies, better than camping out for the midnight release of the books. I was the first one there! The people working at the front desk didn’t even know if it was open yet, but I assured them it was and they gave me a visitors pass. As I turned the corner into the set, I suddenly emerged in Trelawney’s classroom, complete with poufs, tables, teacups, and other things I’ll describe in extensive detail (maybe sickeningly detailed for some). I sit on the first pouf I see. It’s lined in purple velvet with a red,
crushed-velvet band around the top rim. Next to me is a small table (about 1 1/2 ft., sorry I don’t know meters), which I put my notebook on. It’s draped in heavy, purple velvet that drips down to the floor. On top of that tablecloth is a smaller, square one that is a shiny magenta color, with gold embroidery and tassels hanging off each of the four corners. On top of the table is what I’ve been saving to tell you, as I was mesmerized by it myself. It sits on a little wooden stand made up of 3 elephants. It’s a crystal ball! It has ACTUAL FOG swirling around inside it!!! I can’t tell you how long I just sat on my little
pouf staring into it, running my fingers over it and around it, hoping for a glimpse “beyond”. I didn’t even care that others were wondering what I was doing. Even though there was so much to see I couldn’t get over that magical crystal ball. Plus, the squashy poufs were oh so comfortable. Next to me, is real oak, wood paneling. As I run my hand across it I notice that it really does feel old & worn (with knicks and cracks and a certain stickiness too). Etched in it are names:

*Arsenius Jigger *Emeric Switch *Alistair Ballcocker *Alexandra Rokonski
*Theopholos Malentus *(various runes that, obviously, I don’t
understand) *Amberose Swott *Angilus Moriattis *Dominique Maestro
*Edward Almeida Peidus

There are two tack boards on the panels. Each one is 5 ft. tall by 2 ft. wide. Each one describes a set. One reads “INT. DIVINATION CLASSROOM. PROFESSOR SYBILL TRELAWNEY”. On the tack board are 2 photos of Trelawney’s classroom. One has a shot of the stairs leading up to some room (I can tell by this that it’s the DADA classroom ). On the other hand, the other shot (of the whole room) doesn’t look the same at all. Below the pics are schematic drawings (that I don’t understand so I won’t describe). Below the schematics are FABRICS (I’d touch ’em if they weren’t behind the glass, which I’m sure is why they are). There’s three diff. kinds for Trelawney’s costume. One of light-green satin w/ vines embroidered on it. The second one is golden brown knit fabric with stripes (each stripe being a diff. color of the rainbow.) The third is a smooth, indian silk/cotton blend with leaves embroidered
on it.

The other fabrics are as follows:
1. Sheer curtains- red & pink sheer voile
2. Undercloths (for the tables)- purple and red velvet
3. Fabric for poufs:
a. crushed red-orange velvet
b. black velvet w/ red, geometrical shapes
c. purple & orange cotton knit
d. turquoise velvet
e. deep purple velvet
f. blood red velvet w/ embroidered flowers
g. crushed golden-orange velvet
h. multicolored tapestry fabric

There’s also a picture of the TOWER OF TEACUPS! There’s samples of the wallpaper: gold wallpaper & red with golden detail (of a distinctly indian design). There’s also a page from PoA (p.79 “Talons & Tea Leaves” chapter). The paragraph begins, “He emerged into the strangest-looking classroom he had ever seen.”

The other tack board has photos, drawings and paintings of the DADA classroom. OH WOW! A photo of Lupin’s watch! Of course it has the time of day, but it also has the phases of the moon on it (what great detail! that wasn’t even in the book, but I like that they added it)! There’s also a drawing that’s like Da Vinci’s “Renaissance Man” except that that it’s a wolf/man! There’s a painting of a wolf killing a horse. And one more of a wolf, seemingly, about to attack two young children. There are drawings of “Boggarts wardrobe (looks kinda like the style of Lord of the Rings elvish designs). There are photos of Lupin’s trunk. There’s a photo of an old projector (w/ many lenses)
that’s titled “Inspiration for Projector”. Above it is a drawing that looks very similar w/ the title “Lupin’s Lantern”. Next to it is a drawing of Snape and the projector.

Okay, getting close to the end, sorry if I’ve made you sick with detail (but I’m a freak). In the center of the display, along the back wall, is a circular platform of dark, stained oak. [must now sit on all the poufs]. There are two more tables like the one I described w/ one difference. Next to the crystal ball is a copy of “Unfogging the Future” by Cassandra Vablatsky (VOL. 1) publisher “Rumiharts Books, London”. They’ve got the book tied together so you can’t look in it (that is, a normal person can’t). DON’T READ THE NEXT SENTENCE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS INSIDE THE BOOK (OR IF THERE’S ANYTHING INSIDE THE BOOK)………(written backwards)-> knalb/ytpme, era,yeht.

The centerpiece of this whole scene is an obviously magical stack of teacups, spiraling up, on which a brass tea brewer is sitting. The lever for the spout actually turns! On the back wall, behind the teacups, is a giant photo of the classroom that’s framed with beautiful, heavy, velvet drapes. They’re made as any would be in a castle, with soft velvet and lining. They’re tied with velvet ropes that have tassels on the ends. Almost done folks. On a dark oak table
sits 6, glass jars holding, you guessed it, HEADS!

1) Skull w/ a mohawk (made of many twigs, but very fine so it does
look bushy). Hanging from holes drilled above the teeth are cinnamon
sticks, two rows down.
2) Little skull w/ eyes that flash in the light.
3) A sculpture of tiny skulls w/ smoky quartz crystals sticking out
of their eyes.
4) A mosaic skull made of real turquoise tiles.
5) A golden skull w/ hair starting in the back of the skull and
hanging shoulder-length (if it had shoulders).
6) A skull w/ a ponytail and lips tied together w/ thick, coarse rope

On the second shelf of this table is a big skull of a dragon (pointy ears and a horn).

On the last wall is a collection of 12 photos:
1) Alfonso talking w/ the cast for the “Aunt Marge” scene.
2) Harry’s room. Picture of Lily & James (hard to see) on his night
stand/ bedside table. Lots of drawings and a Gryffindor Quidditch
banner on the wall behind his bed. Drawing of Hedwig on the wardrobe
(that Dobby was in).
3) Leaky Cauldron. Shot of the stairs, Sirius Black wanted poster,
large dining table, fireplace, and various photos.
4) HONEYDUKES! Too much to describe.
5) Dumbledore in the Great Hall (welcome to Hogwarts scene)
6) Sleeping bags scene w/ Snape & Dumbledore.
7) Trelawney and cat w/ squashed face (BUT NOT CROOKSHANKS, IT’S GREY)
8) Lupin, behind his desk, looking pointedly at his wand.
9) Shrieking Shack w/ broken mirror and ratty bed.
10) Shrieking Shack w/ grand piano in middle of room (what the?).
11) Amazing view of Hagrid’s Hut w/ a sweeping view of the landscape
(Forbidden Forest mostly). Harry, Ron, Hermione hiding behind
12) Harry looking at the Marauders Map in bed. Hedwig on a chair.

There’s also a cool video interviewing the set designer Stephenie McMillan. The statement that was written in the booklet I got was “We had to establish a Hogwarts style on the first film. We chose a mid-toned oak for paneling and for furniture like the refectory tables and benches in the Great Hall (to seat 400 children), for schooldesks and blackboards. There is magic, but no electricity at Hogwart’s, (yes I did notice this typo) so we made sets with oil and gas lamps to use both in the studio sets and for location continuity.

Well, that’s it. I hope you’re not all thinking I’m totally nuts and went into way too much detail (it’s okay if some think that, but hopefully, not everyone.) It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that this was the most wonderful HP experience and I’m totally frothing at the mouth for June 4 to come. Peace.

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.