We treasure on-screen characters like they are real persons, often assuming them to be alternative personalities of the performers who play them. Yet…
All the elements of filmmaking come together to create memorable on-screen characters from the writer’s invention and the initial casting choice through the magic created on set to the choice of shots in editing, including which shots are juxtaposed on either side, and the soundscape.
Memorable scenes can exist outside of both key story points and of memorable characters, and yet it is the characters themselves that bring us back, wanting to see more. With those characters we make a connection.
In honour of the last Harry Potter movie this weekend, here’s a look at 7 memorable characters of the first Harry Potter movie (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”):
1. Harry Potter – Of course. A surprisingly average wizard with a few extraordinary talents and an admirably uncorrupted heart; oh, to have his resilience amid such darkness!
2. Dumbledore – Classic master of magic with great kindness and who inspires deep trust; of all the scenes, we anticipate the Dumbledore/Harry scenes the most.
3. Ron Weasley – Earnest and real; he’s the only one who can ask to see Harry’s scar and the question doesn’t make Harry (or us) uncomfortable.
4. Hermione Granger – She makes an interesting choice that defines her future in Gryffindor as opposed to Ravenclaw, for her bravery exceeds her vast, enviable intelligence, and this brings us closer to her.
5. Fred & George Weasley – Hard to picture them as separate characters (and they like it that way); they embody the laughter that is essential in life and especially amid darkness; how the imp in all of us would love to get away with what they get away with!
6. Severus Snape – His presence fills the room; vastly intelligent, temperamental, and it appears a depth of character yet well hidden but sneaks out now and then; a worthy adversary to Harry, and one anticipates their verbal sparring
7. Rubeus Hagrid – More than the “gentle giant”, he has such staunch loyalty that helps him to earn a spot amid the brave folk of Gryffindor, and when it comes to creatures, a totally refreshing opinion of what is beautiful.
Again, this is my person list, and your list may differ. Still, it obviously takes an ensemble of characters to create the story moments. Scenes exist in that “space” between characters as they interact (or in the interaction between character and setting).
How many memorable characters are in your script? How can you make your characters more memorable through the various elements of filmmaking from prep to post?
Cheers & happy invention to you,
P.S. For more Harry Potter “lists”, the Hollywood Reporter a number of “25 Surprising Facts”:
* About Wizard’s Wands & Props
* About Costume & Animal Facts