Tag Archives: books

The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour


At last: my birthday gift to me!

I laughed.

I cried.

(Well, nearly.)

And I wandered Leavesden Studios in a daze, remembering with fondness every moment of Harry Potter mania – the seven books, the midnight release parties, the costumes, fan fiction, and hushed spoiler whispers – and the anticipation of the films that brought the magic to life.IMG_1132IMG_1065On the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, eager fans (e.g. yours truly + Marijn, my trusty comrade in arms) can revel with abandon in the literary and cinematic masterpiece of fifteen years of Harry Potter – from the 1997 publication of the Philosopher’s Stone to the box set release of all eight films.

Props, sets, costumes, interviews, pranks and quirks, production secrets and behind-the-scenes gossip – soak it all in, children of all ages. The magic lives on. IMG_1124

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Stylistic differences

Mrs. Dalloway*
by Virginia Woolf
A tracking shot that cuts seamlessly from character to character and would transition lovely to film.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies*
by Jared Diamond
A good (though by no means earthshattering) powerpoint presentation. This becomes important during the chapters on radiocarbon dating.

The Fall of the Congo Arabs*
by Captain Sidney Langford Hinde
An over-long diary entry, appropriately racist to the time period, that lauds his personal exploits as hunter of hippopotami.

Pride and Prejudice*
by Jane Austin
One of those tales concocted in the pleasant monotony of alone time in a hammock and voiced aloud to no one in particular, complete with sarcasm and full character development, of course.

The Alchemist*
by Paulo Coelho
Le Petit Prince, set in North Africa, plus a few pages about omens and sheep.

In Defense of Food*
by Michael Pollan
A witty piece of journalism – ironic since he seems to hold journalists in such contempt.

Fahrenheit 451*
by Ray Bradbury
An HBO extended episode, film noir, scored by John Williams as only John Williams can do.

Standing on Ceremony

Ghana (and sub-Saharan Africa at large) loves its ceremonies – the elegant traditional dress, the singing and dancing, the honor and status, the gathering of community, and especially the speeches, speeches, speeches.

Freeman reviewing the full-page agenda of speeches

Freeman reviewing the full-page agenda of speeches

Typical ceremonies, including church services, can last several hours. I did not know on Thursday that the ‘Love to Read campaign launch’ was in fact a commissioning ceremony for a new library in Kpedze [ped-jay], but I quickly realized we were not there for a meeting. To be honest, my heart leapt when I learned our actual purpose. The shortage of books in Ghana – especially non-Christian literature – is disheartening at best for an avid reader like myself.


A few development partners, including PoP’s friends DIVOG, have spent the past several weeks building and outfitting a library for the community. A Canadian NGO Links Across Borders, under Professor Sylvia Morrison, has led this project.

Prof. Morrison, Jamaican by birth, was honored in an ‘enstooling ceremony.’ In short, the village chiefs made her a queen of Kpedze – a very high honor.


Traditionally, kings and queens are presented with beads, a staff, and various gifts once they have been seated on their elaborately carved stools. In return, a king or queen is expected to care for the community. The honorary title now extends to particularly influential development partners, like Prof. Morrison, as a symbol of immense gratitude for the work they have performed on behalf of the community. She received the title Mama Agbalényó, or Queen Mother Book is Good. (And yes, even my Ghanaian colleagues thought the name was ridiculous.)

As staff photographer, I passed the majority of the ceremony standing, snapping photos of the fun. But after nearly four hours, I was glad to stop and sit for lunch.


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