With a script from Steve Kloves directed by David Yates, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince changed the franchise by carefully balancing utterly contradicting genres from scene to scene. One day, the cast would be filming a scene about the romantic, yet hilarious, tension between Ron, Hermione, and Lavender Brown. The very next day, they'd be shooting epic scenes about the Wizarding World's descent into chaos thanks to the return of the villainous Voldemort and his growing army of Death Eaters. The juxtaposition of these different genres could have made it a total rollercoaster of fun, especially for someone like Daniel Radcliffe, who was in almost every scene.
Even with the DVD/Blue-Ray bonus footage and several books on the artistry of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, many fans' knowledge of the making of it is pretty limited. Lots of fans are not sure about the logistics of it, nor the sheer magic that went into creating the awesome special effects or set-pieces. This is why we've collected some of the best behind-the-scenes images from the filming of the 2009 feature film. These shots let us have a prolonged glimpse at the making of this beloved entry into the iconic Harry Potter film canon. In fact, a few of these images pull back the curtain so much that they are sure to alter your perspective on the movie and how films are made in general.
Here are 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.
25 Walking on magic carpets
This behind-the-scenes image shows us just how much work goes into what seems like a simple shot. As we can see, the scene involves Harry, Ron, and Hermione marching through the interior courtyard of Hogwarts. To bring this shot to life, the camera was positioned on dolly tracks and pushed ever so gently alongside the cast in order to capture them.
We can also see a giant boom-mic overtop of them, meaning that the operator had to walk backward down the hall to grab their dialogue. As for the carpet that the cast is walking on, well, that's there so that their feet make minimal noise as they move.
24 Quidditch Against The Blue Screen
As we can see from this behind-the-scenes photo from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Quidditch was far less interesting during production than it was in the final film. After all, it mostly consisted of the actors sitting on a bicycle-seat and harness that was made to look like a broomstick. There was minimal to no movement, as authentically simulating broomstick movement would be challenging.
There was also no background, as the filmmakers needed to add that in digitally during post-production. We can surmise that Daniel Radcliffe needed to use his imagination when acting in this Quidditch try-outs scene.
23 The Burrow Burns
This behind-the-scenes image from The Half-Blood Prince reveals a lot about the making of this scene. Due to the breath coming out of Mark William's mouth, as well as the crews' jackets, this was definitely filmed outside. This means that the Weasley's wheatfield had to be grown or created from scratch. Of course, they probably could have made an enormous one so these blue screens needed to be used to extend it digitally.
This shot is taken during the scene when Bellatrix Lestrange burns down The Burrow. Therefore, warm lights were used on the front of the cast. As you can see, it looks like something in front of them is on fire, even though they are more than likely looking at equipment.
22 Young Romance
Have you ever had to pretend to love someone? That's precisely what both Daniel Radcliffe and Bonnie Wright had to do while filming The Half-Blood Prince. Director David Yates also had to figure out an authentic way of building the love story between the two of them in a short amount of time. We can see that he's trying to do just that in this behind-the-scenes image from the making of the movie.
Looking past the actors and directors working out the dynamics of the scene, we can see the sheer amount of detail put into the Weasley's living room. All of the worn, mismatched furniture really reveals a lot about the family, what they value, and what their social standing is.
21 Building The Three Broomsticks
This is the kind of behind-the-scenes image that we don't often see. It's of the model of The Three Broomsticks; something that needed to be created in order for the production designer, director, and construction workers to get a better idea of what was to be built. This gives them the right idea about the dimensions of the space, and what kind of labor it will take for them to create it. Additionally, if the filmmakers wanted to make any drastic changes to the space, they'd make it now.
The level of detail put into this model is pretty amazing. Clearly, there was a very specific vision that the production designer had for this iconic Hogsmeade bar.
20 Bringing The Broomsticks To Life
The previous behind-the-scenes image is the perfect one to lead into this one. Now we can see how they brought the model of The Three Broomsticks to life. Little about the design is different, except for the shape of the table that Ron, Harry, and Hermione are sitting at. There's also seems to be a very consistent color palette that's being carried through the space, as well as the costumes of all the characters depicted here.
This image also gives us a glimpse at the rehearsal process of the main cast. Director David Yates is clearly pleased with what the actors are doing. Although he's right there in it, he's leaving it up to his capable actors to work out.
19 Connecting With The Trio
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the second Potter film that David Yates directed. Therefore, it's fair to say that he already built a strong working relationship with the three main stars. Based on the body language of all of them in this behind-the-scenes image, they seem really comfortable with one another. The set that they're sitting in also seems really cozy, making it far easier for the four of them to connect with one another while discussing the scene ahead.
Given that this is one of the first scenes of the movie, it makes sense why Yates would want to get down and talk to them. Much of the tone of this scene will set up what's to come.
18 A Look Inside Spiner's End
The behind-the-scenes image shows us the different tone that director David Yates wants to strike in this scene. His facial expression and body language is far less relaxed than in some of the other shots on this list. That's because he wants the tension in the scene to be a little higher since it's setting up the conflict and stakes of the film. This transferred to Helen McCrory and the late Alan Rickman as well.
The shot also gives us a better look inside Severus Snape's home. It gives us even more insight into the character. He clearly cares about knowledge and learning as his entire living room is decked out in all of the books that he's presumably read.
17 Radcliffe Goofs For The Camera
Who says that you can't have fun while shooting a Harry Potter movie? Daniel Radcliffe clearly is in this behind-the-scenes image from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Given that none of this reactions were this big in the actual scene, he's probably just goofing around a bit during a take that didn't quite go as planned.
This image also tells us that Radcliffe is really comfortable in front of the camera. Where most people would flinch, Radcliffe jumps at the opportunity to entertain.
16 The Magical Bookshelf
Think about how much fun it would be to be credited as an "invisible hand" in a Harry Potter movie. Well, these guys probably weren't credited this way, but they should have been. What better way to describe their job in this behind-the-scenes photo?
This image really gives us deeper insight into how the filmmakers created some of the everyday bits of magic in the movie. By positioning these people within the bookshelf, Emma Watson could physically hand the books off without it looking odd. Later, the hands were digitally removed and the books appeared to be putting themselves away.
15 Taking It Outside
The simple walk-and-talk scene carries on from the inside of the Hogwarts courtyard to the outside. This behind-the-scenes image was clearly taken during a camera rehearsal as Emma Watson was allowed to wear her normal winter coat. Instead of a dolly, we see that they're using a crane to track them and potentially move up and down for a more complex shot.
The coat that Watson is wearing also tells us that this set is outside. The crew could have created a Hogwarts courtyard in a climate-controlled studio and simulated weather. Instead, they clearly went for a more natural look and feel.
14 The Illusion Of Movie Making
There's only so much of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that can be built. After all, it's an enormous school. Additionally, the sets that can be built practically can't always be created on location. Some of them need to be climate-controlled as well as not everything will fit in the permitted area. This behind-the-scenes photo shows us how the filmmakers are able to get around this issue and make it look like Hogwarts actually exists.
This is movie magic at its very best. By positioning the camera properly, it can appear that this bridge extends toward the castle and actually exists in the rugged countryside.
13 Digitally Creating Ron's Quidditch Save
Creating moments like Ron making this epic Quidditch save can't always be done practically. In fact, it's nearly impossible. This is why the filmmakers have to mix what they can shoot with computer-generated images. Here we see how they create the details of Ron Weasley, his clothing, broomstick, and his backdrop.
It's amazing how they can digitally create fine details such as the ripples in Ron's cloak or the fabric alongside the Quidditch stadium. Make sure these specific additions are present is important in these middle stages of CGI. Thanks to this behind-the-scenes image, we can gain a little more appreciation for it.
12 Inside The Infirmary
It's amazing to see that they got to use all of these practical sets on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Of course, CGI is necessary for some shots. For instance, we can just get a glimpse of some blue screen outside of the infirmary door. A detailed castle set like this gives these actors a lot to play off of.
In this behind-the-scenes shot, things seem a lot more relaxed then they were in the film. Here, Ron actually looks to be enjoying Lavender Brown's company, as does Ginny and director David Yates.
11 The Colors Of The Slug Club
This behind-the-scenes image really allows us to have a deeper appreciation for the production design of The Half-Blood Prince. When watching the movie, fans may have been too distracted by the plot and characters to fully notice the gorgeous red Chinese lanterns or the transparent green curtains that bring The Slug Club Christmas party to life.
Although we see action going around behind our main characters, chances are they had to be very quiet. Since there's a boom mic over top of Daniel Radcliffe and Jim Broadbent, we can assume that their audio is being recorded. This means that the cast behind them have to mime conversations as not to speak over them. Their sounds would be added later.
10 The Reality Of Filming A Speech Scene
The reality of filming an epic speech scene is that the room isn't always full of onlookers. As we see in this behind-the-scenes photo, Michael Gambon's Dumbledore is only addressing the crew and not the cast. In the film, we see him giving a somewhat macabre "welcome" speech to the Hogwarts students. When they were actually shooting the scene, he only stood in front of them during the wide-shots of the entire room.
The behind-the-scenes photo tells us that in order to get this shot, the cameras and lights needed to be where the students would have been. Therefore, Gambon had to pretend to speak to a room full of young witches and wizards.
9 Ginny And The Backdrop
Although some of the exterior shots of the Burrow were actually shot outside, it appears as if others were done on a climate-controlled set. Unless this wheatfield backdrop was simply placed behind the cast and producers' chairs for the time being, that is. A backdrop like this one could be moved behind actual wheat, making it appear to go on forever. It could also be placed outside of the windows of interior sets, making it easier on the post-production team who wouldn't have to create the exteriors digitally.
This behind-the-scenes image also gives us a look at Bonnie Wright in between takes. Like her co-stars, Wright literally grew up on screen. She seems enormously comfortable in what is her biggest movie of the series.
8 Filming On Location
Many of the scenes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were shot on location. This behind-the-scenes image takes us to Lacock, Wiltshire in England. It's here where Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon spent three nights shooting the scenes traveling to Slughorn's house. They were outside between the hours of 5 PM and 5 AM to capture this moment.
The residents of this real-life community were asked to black-out their windows so that the overhead lights wouldn't keep them up all night. Lights don't just need to be used over the actors but, as you can see, all down the street as well. This allows us to be able to see the details of this beautiful little town.
7 Bringing The Cave To Life
Bringing the cave set to life must have been a fun job since it's so drastically different than the majority of other sets in the Harry Potter film. In this behind-the-scenes image, we can see that they actually built a large portion of the cave in order for the actors to actually have something to interact with. Of course, the sheer size of the cave would have had to be done digitally, which is why they have green-screens lining the walls.
Although the crystals they're walking on appear jagged and hard, chances are they were actually really soft. This is usually done to lower the chances of injuries should one of the performers slip.
6 A Stroll Through The Set
Given all of the built sets that we've seen on this list, it's easy to think that this library is one of them. However, it's actually a real-life location that was simply decorated to appear as if it were a part of Hogwarts. The library that director David Yates is strolling through between takes is actually Duke Humfrey's Library in the Bodleian Library on Broad Street in Oxford. It's a location that you could stroll through if you wished.
There's no telling how much work went into making it look like Hogwarts. By the look of this behind-the-scenes image, they put in all new books, quills, and maybe even those lights. Regardless, Yates sure looks pleased to be there.
5 Directing A Reluctant Villain
Given the similarities between this behind-the-scenes image and the one of the library, this scene could have also been shot on location in Oxford. Then again, it could have been replicated in order to appear as if it had the same window design as the Bodleian Library. However, given the action in this scene, it's more than likely a controlled set.
This image also gives us a look at how David Yates directed Tom Felton, AKA Draco Malfoy. The Half-Blood Prince is easily his biggest film in the franchise, so it makes sense that Felton is taking this scene seriously.
4 Guarding The Beard
Dumbledore's beard is certainly one of his most iconic physical traits. In fact, it's hard to imagine the older version of the character without it. When shooting on location, especially in the wind and cold, it's important to take care of said beard. This is precisely what we're seeing in this behind-the-scenes image.
Clearly the make-up and wardrobe people wanted Michael Gambon to take extra precautions with his beard so that it wouldn't get messed up in-between shots. This image also gives us some insight into the cold that these actors braved to bring this scene to life.
3 The Copious Details Of Dumbledore's Office
We can see that there are so many practical elements included on this set. Really only the Pensieve, Dumbledore's hand, and a couple of the portraits needed to be altered via digital effects. The sheer amount of detail put into Dumbledore's office must have been a joy for the actors. This is a very pivotal scene in the series, therefore it was important that the filmmakers found ways of getting the actors to feel like they were truly in the situation.
This image also tells us that they are shooting the coverage of Michael Gambon's lines. It's likely that Radcliffe is merely there for eye-line and to give something for Gambon to react to.
2 Directing A Tragedy
This must have been one of the more challenging scenes to direct. As we can see, there are so many elements at play. Almost the entire main cast is present. There are also countless extras. It's also a night shoot which means it was a bit chilly. On top of all of this, a ton of emotion needed to be conjured to make this scene hit home. This is why David Yates appears stressed. A lot was on his shoulders. After all, fans expected the very best.
Another interesting feature of this image is that it appears as if parts of the set are missing. On the left-hand side, some of the castle panels are gone. Perhaps they were taken out to accommodate the crowd?
1 Setting The Stage For The Final Shot
The final shot of any movie is one of the most important ones. This behind-the-scenes image shows us the making of the final one in The Half-Blood Prince. Here, Yates directs Watson and Radcliffe as they plan their goal for the final two films: taking out Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes.
The actors only have a limited set to work with. The rest is green screen. The orange exes are on the green screen are to give the actors and digital effects team some reference to where some of the mountains are in the distance. The end result made The Half-Blood Prince an even more special film.
Which behind-the-scenes photo changes Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for you? Let us know in the comments below!