I need to start being very careful at this stage of the game. I almost chose a flick for today that I had already watched about six months ago and completely forgotten about.
Yep. Harry Potter tribute bands.
This 2008 film by Josh Koury explores the world of Harry Potter fandom, specifically looking at the tribute bands. These groups of mostly youngsters write and perform songs in character as the kids from the books, and they call it Wizard Rock. What do you mean you haven’t heard of it?
I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have never read any of the books, nor watched any of the films (except that one time when I was on a packed ferry across the Irish Sea and the only available seat was right in front of a 50-inch plasma and the in-flight movie was Deathly Hallows part 2. I was trying to watch Cowboys and Aliens on my laptop but the volume on the TV was higher than my friend from Uni that time he went to Amsterdam for a weekend and didn’t come back for a month and a half. But that story’s another kettle of spanners altogether). It’s not that I’ve been deliberately avoiding them or anything, just that I’ve been deliberately avoiding them. There are reasons for this, but they only make sense inside my twisted little head and aren’t worth going into at this juncture anyway.
Wait, where was I? The film. It’s a lot of fun. Like with any flick about fandom, it would have been so very easy for the filmmakers to present these people as nutty obsessives; to look down on them with scorn and derision. Koury goes out of his way to avoid that, focussing on a rather large cross-section of fans mostly from the Massachusetts area. His subjects are people who have full and fulfilling lives, and also just happen to be Harry Potter nerds. Most of them are actually from the inter-connected community of Wizard Rock, such as the bands Harry and the Potters – the DeGeorge brothers, who accidentally founded this particular sub-genre as last minute replacements in a backyard gig – and Draco and the Malfoys (anyone else seeing a trend here…?) who have one particularly charming little ditty entitled “My Dad is Rich and Your Dad is Dead”.
Koury also spends some time with comedian and cartoonist Brad Neely, creator of the alternative movie soundtrack Wizard People, and Heather Lawver, formerly owner of a Potter fan site. Both have seen the sharp end of Warner Brothers and their copyright lawyers, and their stories are, for me, the most interesting part of the film. We are Wizards suffers for having such a large cast, especially when they are talking about a particularly narrow and relatively short-lived subject matter like Harry Potter. It might have been better served by spending more time with a few less people, or making it just about the bands and splitting the Neely and Lawver section off into a separate film.