It is said that with 7 memorable scenes in a movie – I mean really memorable, magical scenes – then the movie has great potential to do well.

In honour of the last Harry Potter movie coming out, I thought to examine this idea using the first Harry Potter movie. If any movie were filled with memorable, magical scenes, then I believe this one would be it. The trick in this case is to identify the scenes of the movie, not the scenes of the book…. because reading the book is a very different experience from watching the movie.

So, here, for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”…

  1. The Harry Potter theme music over mist in the darkness and the first magic of Dumbledore & McGonagall
  2. Olivander facilitates the “twin” wand choosing Harry
  3. Through the wall and arriving on platform 9 3/4 to see the Hogwarts Express
  4. Harry, Ron and Hermione meet on the train over candy, spells and a dirty nose
  5. Snape explains the subtlety, fame & glory of potions… and labels Harry a celebrity
  6. In the great hall at the end, Neville earns the winning 10 points
  7. Hagrid gives Harry the photo album of wizard photos of Harry & his parents

Aha! Are these memorable moments different from yours? Hard to keep it to only seven?

Identifying the most memorable & magical scenes in your script will help to identify where and when to spend the production’s budget to maximize “getting the magic on the screen”. I’m not talking about “getting the story on the screen” – which is also a requirement of the focus of the budget – but finding the moments where the viewer’s thoughts are going to linger after leaving the theatre.

This list also shows us that allocating the production budget wisely may mean to allocate funds to special effects (the obvious) but also to time spent in rehearsal and on set to find the magic in the quiet moments or in dialogue between characters.

Since filmmaking is a collaborative art, explore (with the creative team) where the memorable moments may lie in your script.

Cheers & happy hunting,