New Report Online from Location Filming for “Half-Blood Prince” (Updated)

Nov 18, 2007

Posted by: SueTLC


There is a new report online today from location filming for the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” film. Crews were due to film this weekend at a train station in a town outside of London. Marc from let us know they have a report from this filming in Surbiton, and you can see a new photo of actor Michael Gambon filming a scene at the station. Please note, the report is in German, but the scene apparently involves Professor Dumbledore at this train station, gesturing and making some sort of greeting. If anyone can provide a translation, please send it in!

Thanks Marc!

UPDATE:Marc from HPXperts owled to clarify that Michael Gambon and OotP director David Yates were present at the filming, and he did not see Dan Radcliffe. Also, thanks to TLC reader Stefanie, we now have a translation of the entire (and very lengthy )location report below. Thanks to Steffi and everyone who mailed with their translations, it is most appreciated!

It’s true. The station in Surbiton really is a set in the 6th Harry Potter movie. Armed with my camera, a note pad and a pen (you never know ’ maybe one can get an autograph from one of the stars) I took the short walk from my flat to the filming location.

According to the online report of the local weekly paper, filming was supposed to take place specifically in Cafe Chaud on one of the platforms. The Problem: One only gets onto the platforms with a valid ticket. Having arrived at the station, I start skulking around outside the building, along the railings towards the car park, and behold: Lots of people in yellow safety vests and ’ even more important ’ filming equipment on the first platform. Bull’s eye!

Apart from that there wasn’t much to be made out, and I want to save my camera for more important photos. The display of my rechargeable battery is already flashing red¦ Since I can’t get onto the platforms, I start walking towards the back of the station. All those lorries that transport all of their filming stuff have to be somewhere! Via a passageway leading over the tracks I get to the other side of the station and when I come around the corner I encounter even more men and women in yellow vests. This part of the film crew is apparently just taking a break or isn’t needed with the filming on the platforms. There are hot drinks for all the members of the crew, but I just walk through the crowd and there they are: lots of white lorries. Unfortunately, they are not much use to me on their own either, so I position myself close to the crew, locate one of the many yellow vested people and ask away. “They are shooting a Harry potter movie here, aren’t they? Could you answer me a few questions?” ’ “Just wait for a moment; I’ll find you someone who can.”

So far, so good. With my note pad and pen in my hand, I observe the colourful hustle and bustle. Passers-by wanting to know what’s going on are being fobbed off with words like ˜They’re just shooting some TV series¦’ After some time the nice man returns and advises me just to try to get onto the platform. That should work somehow. Oh dear, without a ticket? Well, why not try¦ I go into the back entrance, past policemen, people in yellow vests and with buttons in their ears, and lots of security staff that stare at me ¦ but don’t stop me. [¦]

My eyes wander around and suddenly Dumbledore is standing in front of me ’ maybe 10 metres away. Michael Gambon in full get-up! His beard held together by some cord. His grey robe we already know from the previous films. His little hat. All fits together! From the opposite platform David Yates, the director, is issuing instructions: ˜No train! Action!’ The camera is running and Gambon starts. He is standing on the platform in such a way that he has a good view of the other platform. His head is slightly turning from one side to the other ’ apparently he is looking for someone. Then he raises his hand and waves in greeting.

Slowly the scene is taking on form. Café Chaud, in which filming had been reported to take place, is on the other platform, but it seems that it’s not going to be used as a filming location. [¦] A scene at a railway station is being filmed here, specifically one with Dumbledore on the platform (the camera is on the opposite platform). On the other platform, the crew has concealed the area in front of the cafe with black cloth. One can see steam rising up behind a glass pane- but what for?

The filming at the railway station is generally more difficult than in the studio, because there are constantly trains arriving and people getting on and off those trains. The security people direct them as quickly as possible to the exits, but it’s inevitable that Gambon is standing around with parts of the crew for most of the time. Because of the cold, he’s wearing a black down coat over the Dumbledore costume. Meanwhile I’m trying to find out more about the filming and talk to the station manager. Unfortunately his staff are not allowed to give me any information (provided that they had some), because only the press office of “South West Train Services” is authorised to do so. [¦]

Dumbledore is looking at the other platform. Then it’s starting to get hectic. This time, the scene is to be filmed with a train passing by, which is already advancing. Gambon is already back on his position. The train rushes past. He looks. He waves. Cut! The same thing is repeating itself for a couple of times, and each time they have to wait for a passing train. Yates gives Gambon different stage directions: “Michael, can we try a smaller gesture?” ’ As a result, Gambon doesn’t wave quite as noticeably any more, but only raises his hand in greeting. The next stage direction is that he should wait a few more seconds after the train has left the picture before he carries out his greeting.

Between the takes, Gambon keeps disappearing into the heap of crew members. They hide behind a board with placards during the takes, in order not to get into the picture. But what’s this? Suddenly I see double: There are two Dumbledores! While the real one remains with the crew, a genuinely similar double is standing there in his place. I talk to one of the security men, who is a lot more helpful than the station manager, and he tells me what he knows. The double is there so that the light and everything else can be adjusted before the actual filming starts. “The real Dumbledore is too old to stand around in the cold all the time, that’s why they have a second.”

He also tells me that the filming is supposed to officially continue until six o’clock in the morning. Apparently, at 1.30 am, another scene is going to be filmed, in which there will be other actors present, but nobody knows any details. [¦] A man is carrying a sign that has differently coloured stripes, with names on them like “Lupin”, “Tonks” and others. [¦] I walk around for a while and get behind some screens. Here, the crew is inspecting the results of what has been captured by the cameras. Since there’s no filming going on at the moment, they are watching the material they have already shot.

Now I’m also able to see more clearly how the scene that has just been filmed might ultimately look like in the movie. The focus is on Dumbledore on the opposite platform. The passing train can only be made out in a blurry way as it rushes through the picture. As soon as the train has passed, white steam comes swirling into the picture from below. Then I suddenly see someone trying to wipe clean a window with his sleeve, in order to get a better view of Dumbledore on the other side of the picture. Dumbledore waves.

Aaah, so the camera is situated in the area that is separated by black cloth, together with the strange fog machine that I had seen before on the other platform. Apparently, it’s supposed to imitate the steam of the train. Still, the whole thing doesn’t really make sense to me. Did I really see someone wiping the window? This would mean that the camera is filming from the inside of the Hogwarts-Express ’ at least it was supposed to look like it¦ In the movie, the Express could stop in the station, another train would pass by and Harry or whosoever could clean the steamed up window to see Dumbledore. Dumbledore would wave at him. Could it be that what’s being filmed here?

I remain skeptical. People continue to disappear behind or reappear from behind the black fabric. This allows me to sneak a few peeks at the separated zone, and there an adolescent is standing whom at first glance I take to be Daniel Radcliffe. But on closer inspection, I’m sure that it’s not him. But could he be the person wiping the window? One could only see that person very briefly in the picture and he was being filmed from behind. His clothes match Harry’s Muggle-style: Chucks, jeans and a sweater jacket like the one Harry was wearing a lot in the third movie. What’s certain is that the camera and the fog machine are in the separated area behind the black fabric. And the camera is filming a passing train and Dumbledore who is standing behind that train on the opposite platform. I keep on walking along the platform and now I’m able to look inside Cafe Chaud. [¦] There’s a chair with the label “Dan Radcliffe”. Hmmm, might he be around after all?


Next to Daniel Radcliffe’s empty chair another boy is sitting, who could pass as a double of Harry. He’s brooding over a yellow piece of paper. Moments later he leaves the waiting room [¦] and disappears from the platform. When he returns, the Dumbledore scene is finished. David Yates declares that everybody has a 1 ½ hours break now (˜lunch’, although it’s midnight) and that another scene will start shooting at 1 o’clock. This requires the whole equipment to be moved to the other platform. Instructions sound through the air. Someone shouts: ˜Window to the other side!’ ’ [¦] A window has actually been set up in the area separated by the black cloth, possibly the inside of a Hogwarts-Express compartment!?

No matter how exactly the scene is going to look in the end, it’s definitely got to do with a waving Dumbledore and takes place on a station platform with a train just having passed through. It’s highly likely that Dumbledore is waving to Harry (and Hermione and Ron), because everything else is making little sense. After all, the movies are told from his perspective: If Harry is not there, we don’t know what’s happening. But I have no idea yet how the scene is supposed to fit into the movie. Anyway, it’s time to go now. My right hand is already half frozen off and I can’t feel my toes anymore. And I˜ve got to write a set report! This one 🙂


The sign I described (with the names of some Potter chracters like Tonks and Lupin, is, I think, a general utensil that is present on every set. There were lots of other names on it as well, and I don’t think that they were all part of the shoot itself. Although it would have been great if Natalia Tena and David Thewlis would have been there!

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.