Ask Michael Goldenberg a Question!


May 09, 2009

Posted by Melissa Anelli

In two weeks, the first ever HP screenwriter-fan chat will be taking place at LeakyCon 2009 in Boston, MA. Today, we’re asking you to take part, even if you can’t go to the conference.

We’re taking your questions ahead of time: leave a question for Michael Goldenberg, scriptwriter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, here in this thread, and we’ll pick out the best ones to be asked during the keynote.

That keynote, by the way, is selling out fast. You can register for LeakyCon here, or amend your registration to include the keynote here.

Here is the entire schedule of events for LeakyCon:

Friday Morning
Friday Afternoon and Evening
Saturday Morning
Saturday Afternoon and Evening


Editors and Authors: Cheryl Klein and John Greenclick here to read about it, click here to register.

Nosh with the Nerdfightersclick here to read about it, click here to register.

Q&A with Michael Goldenberg – click here to read, click here to register.

We are also holding a drawing for a signed one-of-a-kind collection of all 10 American-Edition Harry Potter books, donated by Scholastic and J.K. Rowling. For pics and video of the set, click here.

Remember, leave your question in a comment on this thread and we will pick the best ones to be asked at the conference.

See you there!

47 Responses to Ask Michael Goldenberg a Question!

Avatar Imagestopitimspecial says: We see the scene where Harry tells Snape that, "He has Padfoot. He has Padfoot as the place where it's hidden." Why was it never mentioned that Snape was the one to alert the Order that Harry & Co. are going to the ministry?Avatar ImageNeil in Scotland says: In the past, there has been a certain amount of criticism level towards Mr Kloves and the way he had adapted the books, particularly when it comes to changing certain characters' personalities and lines. Were you aware of this and did it have any bearing on how you approached the adaptation OotP?Avatar Imagefairylights04 says: Hi Michael! What would you say was your favorive/least favorite part about being the scriptwriter for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. -Liz from St. Paul, MinnesotaAvatar ImageOvercast says: Do you have any advice for aspiring screenwriters?Avatar Imageapril_showers says: Oooh. Yay! How much contact did he have with JK Rowling during the writing of the script? About how long did it take to write the script? How much changed from the original draft to the final one? And how much of the script changed during filming? How do the screen writer, directors, and producers work together? What was the hardest thing for him to lose from the book to the movie? What was the most challenging/frustrating part of adapting the novel and what was the easiest/most enjoyable? Which part of the film is he most proud of? Is there anything he wishes he'd done differently? What surprised him most about working on the HP movies? Is that too many questions? Sorry. If I think of better ones later, I'll comment them too. Michael Goldenberg, if you're reading this, thank you so much for going to LeakyCon! It means a lot. Also, Order of the Phoenix is my favorite of the HP movies so far. Haha. Avatar ImageProfessor M says: FYI...The link above to amend our registration to include the keynote seems to go to the regular registration, not to something that says "amend" or "modify".Avatar Image3 Weasly Twin says: Hey, Mr. Goldenberg! What do you need to take into consideration when converting the books to a script? Avatar Imagemouseclickchick says: how do you decide what stays and goes in the movie and what can be cut? I also loved the Order movie. thanksAvatar ImageKatetheKeeper says: Was there any pressure to keep any parts of the book in the movie? If so, which parts?Avatar ImageMatea says: Why didn't you connect the story better? I know its the hardest book of HP series, but I was dissapointed as so many others. Because the movie looked like : cool dementor attack - lets introduce the Order - now a bit of Umbridge - D.A.- ok,lets now put a few cute deep statments - and Ministry battle(which was the only part I really liked) - and lame ending. thank God we have special effects. because if we look at how the book is retelled in script- grade 2/5Avatar Imagepottercastfan says: Now I REALLY want to go to Leaky Con! What is your favorite part of Order of the Phoenix?Avatar ImageR-for-H says: How did you get into script writing and was it what you wanted to do all your life?? Catriona I really wish I could go :(Avatar Imagehermyone08 says: Was there anything that you hated not to include in the movie?Avatar Image-MischiefManaged- says: Dammit, I think *Olivia* here already asked the questions I wanted to ask. :-D My questions would have been something like.. - Did you have much contact with JK Rowling when writing the scritp? Did she give you any advice on what you absolutely have to keep and what you could possibly ditch? - Considering that OOTP is nearly 800 pages long, how did you make up your mind about what to keep and what not to keep? - What kind of input did the director and the producer give you when you were writing the script? - Do you have any favourite characters or any characters that you don't like at all?Avatar Imagemarvelfan23 says: There were a lot of positive comments about Ron's character in the fifth film. Did you consciously attempt to make him less goofy than he was perhaps previously portrayed and more true to the Ron in the books?Avatar Imagefloridianhp says: thats coool!Avatar Imagefelixismycat says: Were you a fan of the Harry Potter series before you signed onto writing the screenplay?Avatar Imagehermi0ne_228 says: i have just one question... how come, if harry saw his parents die, that he can only see thestrals until he sees voldemort murder cedric??Avatar ImageGarden State Geek says: How did you manage to convert Harry's possession by Voldemort into a visual narrative? Avatar ImageHarryRichardsPotter says: How did you decide how to shape Harry's growing anger?Avatar ImageT-Vey says: How many drafts did you have to write before you felt that the script was perfect? Do the producers and director have any say as to what makes it into the script? (and if so... how much?) In the film we see that Cho ratted out the D.A. to Umbridge (not intentionally, of course, but under the influence of Veritaserum). Was this written to clearly show Harry and Cho's relationship coming to end, or was there, perhaps, another meaning? In books, we as readers can go inside character's heads in the sense that we can read their thoughts. Do you have a certain approach to translate the character's thoughts onto the screen? -Taylor from Grand Rapids, MichiganAvatar Imagehermi0ne_228 says: hi,, me again, could someone tell me (please) why harry potter can only see thestrals after he sees cedric murdered?? (if he saw his mom die?)Avatar ImageT-Vey says: ^^ J.K. Rowling explained this in an interview I believe. It had something to do with the death "sinking in." Although Harry's parents died, this is not an event that he can still picture or recall, since he was only a baby. And as far as Cedric, I believe that it wasn't until after the summer when he had finally processed it from reliving that graveyard scene over and over in his dreams, at which point he has come to accept the death. Hope that helps... :)Avatar Imagesenoritasophia13 says: Mr. Goldenberg, was there any point in writing Order of the Pheonix in which Jo said to keep something in. If so, when?Avatar Imageblue4t says: How was it coming into the middle of the series after the first four films had been written by the same scriptwriter? Avatar Imagemoonys_autumn says: What made you pick and use only Nargles as Luna's peculiar creature reference, rather than also using or strictly using one of her other many mentions like say crumple-horned snorcaks, or blibbering humdingers? :)Avatar ImageDanielleD says: I wish I could go.... :(Avatar ImageHufflepuffler says: What do you wish you could have left in the screenplay from the book?Avatar Imagekayzz says: was the battle scene hard to scale down to size? unrelated-will peeps that aren't able to go still be able to watch/read a transcription of Michael answering all of these questions? And what about the other keynote speakers? God I HATE not being able to go!!!Avatar ImageMJLeakyCon says: What was the pressure like working on this project? Did you have a whole staff working with you to adapt the book to the screen, or was all up to you? How difficult was it deciding what stayed in the script, and what went? Did the directors and producers tell you ahead of time what scenes would be cut, or were those decisions up to you?Avatar Imageslwarren says: In the book, Umbridge admits to Harry and Hermione (in the Dark Forest) that she was the one who ordered the dementor attack on Harry at the beginning of the book. She mentions many in the ministry who were anxious to silence Harry (in his claims of Voldemort's return), yet she was the only one who took action. This seemed to be an important piece of information that was eliminated in the final cut of the film. I'd be interested to hear why this seemingly crucial piece of information -- showing the depth of Umbridge's desire for control and order and her "ends justifies the means" mentality -- was left out of the film.Avatar ImageOvercast says: kayzz - Sorry, but there are no plans to record the keynotes for LC09. They are working on trying to get them transcribed, but there are no guarantees! Avatar Imagex_Potter_Lover_Forever_x says: Would was your favourite scene/line in OotP? :) Avatar ImageThe Lost Diadems says: Was there anything you really wanted to include, but couldn't? (Due to time restrictions, etc.)Avatar Imagecheeserpleaser says: Considering the difficulties faced in adapting an almost 900 page novel into a two hour film, what methods did you consistently use in adapting the script to "abbreviate" the story, retaining its richness while also condensing it? What prompted you and the rest of the crew to rearrange the order in which scenes took place in comparison to the book (for example, the Occlumency scene before Christmas, the return of Hagrid after, etc.)? What matter in the plot, characterization, or the like did you most struggle with as you approached adapting the novel? Thanks, Michael, for answering our questions!Avatar Imagemaera-kyrie says: What is your goal with the Deathly Hallows films? Will you be approaching these films differently from the previous ones in any way?Avatar Imagemaera-kyrie says: [Oh whoops, wrong one] Is there anything that you would like to change about OotP if you could?Avatar Imagejords says: For Mr. Goldenberg: 1.) Your last three movies have all been based on successful novels with a huge fanbase (OOtP, Peter Pan and Contact). Did that affect your approach in writing the screenplay? If so, how? 2.) Your last three movies have all been solidly in the world of fantasy/sci-fi. Is that your preferred genre? If you could work on any screenplay in the future, which one would you like to tackle? 3.) You've worked with three incredible directors on your last projects: David Yates, P.J. Hogan, and Robert Zemekis. What would you say was the #1 thing you took away from each experience? 4.) Ralph Fiennes was originally cast to play Palmer Joss in "Contact", which would have made an extreme character comparison to his role as Voldemort. If you could cast any other character in this role, who would it be? And if you could cast Ralph Fiennes in any other role within the Potterverse, who would it be? PS: Can you tell I'm SO EXCITED to meet Michael Goldenberg? Contact is one of my all-time fave movies, and I have yet to watch Peter Pan without crying. He is SO TALENTED!!Avatar ImageiLoveDolores says: this truly will be an amazing opportunity. speaking and interacting with someone who was so heavily involved with the movie will be absolutely brilliant. everyone going are soooo lucky :DAvatar Imagemhaeyemhaeye says: Was it really necessary to not have a Quidditch scene in OOTP? Did you take part with that decision?Avatar Imagemugglemom4 says: I don't have any questions that haven't already been listed. Have fun at LeakyCon everyone!!!Avatar Imagebookmonster79 says: How did you come to the decision to focus more on the power-struggle between Harry/Hogwarts and Umbridge as opposed to the internal struggle Harry was having with his dawning awareness that Voldemort had a connection to his mind and how that impacted Harry's character?Avatar ImageJackHarkness says: Hi Michael. - The film seems more focused than most of the HP films, and really seems built around the theme of isolation, and Harry's sense of being victimised and alone. Was this a conscious decision of yourself and David Yates, and did you use this as the criteria for deciding what should be cut? - After reading Deathly Hallows it was odd to note that because Snape's "Mudblood" jibe at Lily wasn't in the film, the irony of Snape's Worst Memory (that the bad memory was of Lily and not of James) will now be lost in the films. Was JK Rowling happy with this cut, since a film audience in 2011 is unlikely to remember a brief scene they saw in 2007 anyway? - Ginny has a smaller role in the film than in the book, which seems odd given her role later in the series. Was there more of her in the original screenplay? - I thought your sense of "how British people speak" was a big improvement on the previous films, which all had an odd combination of "how Americans THINK British people speak" moments ("holy cricket!"), and American terms that British people simply wouldn't use ("Potions finals", Harry calling Mr Weasley "sir", etc.). Did you research any of this, and did David Yates have any input?Avatar Imageiampadfoot says: Do you take pride in your judaism, or do you repress it? :]Avatar ImageDawnK says: Hi Michael, thanks so much for being here! In OotP, the most dramatic change from book to screen in all five movies thusfar takes place - the RAGE that Harry expresses in Dumbledore's office after Sirius's death was replaced by an incredibly calm discussion in the film - I have heard Dan say this was because the filmmakers thought that that scene's emotional weight could be conveyed quietly, but I disagreed - How was the decision made to make such a DRAMATIC change and why? Thanks again, Dawn KAvatar ImageCourtney Quirke says: Was it difficult writing OotP knowing already everything that happened in Half Blood Prince? (As far as not getting ahead and giving too much away)Avatar ImageCourtney Quirke says: For a movie this big that appeals to such a large audience, sometimes a production company will push for more action or comedy in place of important exposition. Was it difficult compromising certain scenes that were important to the plot for others that would appeal to larger audiences? Also, how difficult is working within the time constraints? What do you think are the easiest bits to get out of the way when you're deciding what to keep and what to leave out?

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