Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

Let the Magic Begin! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the story of a mysteriously orphaned boy who discovers his great magical destiny: he's an already famous wizard. When young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) learns of his wizard status, he's finally able to escape his horrible Muggle (i.e. non-wizard) guardians, the Dursleys, and enter an enchanting world where sorcery reigns--namely, at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Between Quidditch practice and transfiguration and potions classes, Harry must also confront the greatest evil any non-Muggle has ever known, the scary and elusive Voldemort, and stop him from stealing the powerful Sorcerer's Stone.

  • Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
  • Director(s): Chris Columbus
  • Producer(s): Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Duncan Henderson, David Heyman, Mark Radcliffe
  • Screenwriter(s): Steve Kloves
  • Distributor: Warner Brothers
  • Animal Coordinator: Birds and Animals Unlimited
  • Release Date: Friday, November 16, 2001

Featured Animal Action

The Owl Post A total of sixteen owls, including 2 Eagles, 7 Snowies, 2 Tawnies, 2 Great Grays, and 3 Barns, played the magical companions and postage carriers for various Hogwarts students. Hedwig, Harry's personal owl companion, was mostly played by a Snowy named Gizmo, though he shared the coveted role with Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo, and Bandit. Each working owl had its own perch and a large, comfy space to fly around and stretch in, fully equipped with bathing facilities and temperature control. Each owl was also accompanied by at least one trainer, and the majestic birds were trained to respond to a whistle sound, their cue to either fly A to B or to look in a certain direction. For added safety, a lightweight, invisible safety line was attached to the birds in flight. For the A to B action, one trainer held the perched owl at point A while another called to it from point B. The owl, attracted to the trainer's whistling and the promise of food, flew over to the trainer at point B, who rewarded the owl with a treat and sent it back over to the trainer at point A. For some of the flying sequences, a trainer merely held a perched owl on his or her arm in front of a wind machine. Each take took only 6 seconds. Added special effects make it appear as though the bird was flying as high as a Quidditch arena! To ensure safe transport onto the Hogwart's Express and beyond, the owls' cages were bolted down to the luggage carts. Some of the owls in the cages were actually fake stuffies. Several fake Hedwig and barn owl look-alikes were placed in the cages when in motion, leaving more time for the real owls to rehearse their flying close-ups. Stop the Presses! Undaunted by the nasty Dursleys, who refuse to deliver to Harry his Hogwarts acceptance letter, the clever owls descend upon 4 Privet Drive in droves, determined to get their letter to Harry. Perched on the roof, power lines, and scattered across the lawn, the owls wait to receive word that their post has been delivered to its rightful recipient. Actually, most of the owls used in this scene were either computer generated or fake stuffies--only a handful were real. Each owl was secured with a safety line gently attached to its ankle, and each had its own trainer to ensure that it was comfortable and safe at all times. Fortunately, not all of their deliveries are so difficult. The owls manage to deliver post to the Hogwarts students throughout the film--without a hitch or a hoot. The birds did not carry the post themselves, however. Instead, their deliveries were tied to a light plastic harness that was attached around the birds' body. The harnesses were specially made to ensure that no feathers were wrapped, bound, or ruffled. The owl was cued to fly to a mark while the trainer released the mail from the harness with a hand-held cord. For the very important delivery of Harry's Nimbus 2000, a barn owl named Winnie carried a hollow paper broom--which actually weighed less than the owl's natural prey--that was carefully attached to Winnie's talons while a trainer held onto the broom's release mechanism from off camera. At the right mark, the trainer released the broom from the talons with the catch. A Reptile Friend During his visit to the zoo with the horrible Dursleys, Harry talks to a friendly snake at The Reptile House. Filmed at the London Zoo, the snake inside the terrarium was actually only a rubber one, although some footage was taken of a real snake when the actors were not present. Most of the scene, however, is accomplished with a computer generated snake. Frisky Felines: Mrs. Norris & Ms. McGonagall Mean Mr. Filch's right hand cat, Mrs. Norris, was played by 3 Maine Coon cats: Maximus, Alanis, and Cornilus. To achieve the disheveled and unkempt appearance of Mrs. Norris, the felines wore a collar with matted, fake fur attached to it and also had their own beautiful coat spiked up with a non-toxic hair gel. Her menacing red eyes were a digital effect; no contact lenses were used on the cats during filming. Ms. McGonagall was played by a sassy gray Tabby named Mrs. P. Head, and did not need any hair or make-up dis-enhancements. Since most of their scenes take place in drafty old castles, the cats were treated to heated floors for their fuzzy bums and paws--a luxury that even the human actors didn't receive! Trainers used treats and buzzer sounds to cue th e cats during their scenes, and always retrieved the animals afterwards. For Ms. McGonagall's feline/human transfiguration lesson, the cat sat on the desk while a trainer held an invisible safety harness that was placed on Mrs. P. Head and sat hidden underneath the desk. When Mrs. P. jumped off the desk, the harness was released, and the special effects department took care of the rest. Scabbers the Rat & Trevor the Toad Ron Weasley's fat rat named Scabbers was played by 12 different real rats in addition to a fake, mechanical one. During Scabbers' big candy-box scene on the Hogwarts Express, the mechanical rat was mostly used. When a real rat acted in the scene, a trainer merely placed a tiny candy box attached to a wire on the rat's head and gently pulled it off. The rat was rewarded with a critter treat--no Bernie Bott's Beans for Scabbers! Four toads shared the role of Trevor, the much-misplaced companion to Hogwarts student Neville Longbottom. The toads lived in large, moss-based aquariums that were specially heated for their comfort. For Trevor's scenes, a trainer would either hand the toad to the actor or place it on a prop (like an arm chair or stair step) and retrieve it immediately afterwards. Fang: A Softie at Heart Four Neapolitan Mastiffs, Hugo, Vito, Bella, and Bully, portrayed Hagrid's loyal pooch Fang. A true success story, Bully was rescued from a junk yard by one the trainers on the film, who later adopted him as a pet. In the film, when Fang sits in Hagrid's hut next to Ron, a trainer cued the dog to "stay" from off-camera and rewarded him with treats. Later, when Fang accompanies Malfoy in the Forbidden Forest, a trainer cued him to "speak" and "come" from off-camera and again rewarded him with treats. The forest ground--actually a set--was covered in soft moss to protect the dogs' delicate footpads and also to provide stable footing for the animals. Mythological Beasts The dead unicorn in the Forbidden Forest was a fake stuffier that was specially created for the film. Harry also meets a centaur in the dark forest. Although the centaur was digitally created, its special effects team photographed a real stallion and gelding in motion in order to perfect the movements of the computer generated animal. The horses were photographed jumping, walking A to B, and rearing. Several horse wranglers were present to help achieve these actions. Lastly, Fluffy, the huge three-headed guard dog, and Norbert the dragon were also computer generated--albeit without real-life prototypes.