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Behind the scenes: crafting the Yule Ball

Turning the grand but brown Great Hall into a wintery wonderland for the film version of Goblet of Fire was harder than you might think – even for the experts of the Harry Potter set team.

The Great Hall decorated in ice and snow for the Yule Ball
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Extracted from Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey.
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Although they had designed and decorated it, Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan agreed that the Great Hall wasn’t the best place for a party.

‘The Great Hall is this rather stolid environment, with massive pieces of masonry,’ explains Craig. ‘It’s very brown, and it’s very solid, and, apart from its ceiling and its floating candles, it’s not very festive. So we desperately searched for a way to make it so.’

McMillan suggested colouring it silver, but ‘silver paint is flat and dull, not reflective enough,’ says Craig. ‘It would still look like stone, just silver-coloured stone.’

McMillan remember how they had dressed Professor Trelawney’s Divination classroom in Prisoner of Azkaban by draping the walls with fabric. ‘I found this really cheap Lurex silver fabric,’ she recalls, ‘and we decided to paste it everywhere. Then we thought we could put up curtains in the same fabric. Soon, everything became silver – the Christmas trees, the beams, the window mullions. Everything.’

Besides silver, the other defining characteristic of the wintry ball’s decor was its ice displays. Craig and McMillan wanted ice sculptures and blocks of ice on the silver tabletops and in the flambeau bowls.

decorations in the Great Hall for the Yule Ball
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

‘We made the “ice” from clear-cast resin,’ says Pierre Bohanna, ‘and added these wonderful architectural castings on top. There’s a wax resin that creates all the crumble, the breaking or mushed ice.’

Lighting the clear resin was extremely tricky. ‘If you put white light on it, it turns pink, because of the refraction,’ cautions Bohanna. Lighting gels were used to make it a chilling blue ice.

An ice sculpture surrounded by crabs for the Yule Ball
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Page to Screen
Harry Potter: Page to Screen Harry Potter: Page to Screen

Extracted from
‘Harry Potter: Page to Screen'