Nine million watch Harry Potter film made for £13,000

Stefano Rossi as Tom Riddle, who becomes Voldemort. Photograph: Tryangle Films
Stefano Rossi as Tom Riddle, who becomes Voldemort. Photograph: Tryangle Films
0
Have your say

It is an enterprising and passionate means of satisfying the insatiable demands of Harry Potter fans now that JK Rowling has retired her most famous creation.

A crowdfunded film made by fans of the fantasy series, and serving as a prequel to its epic central story, has become an unlikely hit.

A scene from Voldemort: Origins of the Heir. Photograph: Tryangle Films

A scene from Voldemort: Origins of the Heir. Photograph: Tryangle Films

The feature, Voldemort: Origins of the Heir, was produced for less than the cost of an average family car, but less than a week after it was released online it has been viewed more than nine million times.

The film, which is not endorsed by Rowling, follows the story of Tom Riddle, a student at Hogwarts who becomes the feared wizard Voldemort.

It also features a nod to a Scottish link in the series in the form of the film’s protagonist, Grisha McLaggen, who is trying to uncover the truth about Riddle.

She hails from a wizarding family with a Scots surname which features only sporadically in the books via the character, Cormac McLaggen.

The family name, Rowling once revealed, came to her as she was writing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the series.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2004, she said: “I found the name McLaggen the other day, which I think is a great name. There is a McLaggen in book six because I thought that it is a surname that is too good to waste.”

Although Grisha does not feature in any of the books or adapted screenplays, the Italian production company behind the 52 minute-long prequel, Tryangle Films, decided to mine the rich Harry Potter lore and create their own story.

“There are some scenes which have never been on cinema screens, but are already known by the readers of the Harry Potter saga,” explained the director, Gianmaria Pezzato, who had a £13,000 budget.

However, the financial challenge was the biggest hurdle facing Pezzato and his cast and crew.

After they started the crowdfunding process, Warner Bros issued a cease and desist notice.

It was only after the two parties struck up a conversation that a solution was found. The film could be released if Tryangle waived its rights to any profits.

The result has pleased the filmmakers and fans alike, with Origins of the Heir – which was uploaded last Saturday to YouTube, where it is free to view – also receiving a generally favourable critical reception.

Michael Walsh wrote on the popular culture website Nerdist: “For a non-profit film made purely out of love, it looks great, with big budget quality special effects.”