When Tryangle Films set out to make a live-action movie about a young Tom Marvolo Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort, there were only a few things standing in their way: budgetary restrictions and Warner Bros.
To combat the first issue, Tryangle took Voldemort: Origins of the Heir to Kickstarter, but it was during their campaign funding period that Warner Bros. took notice of the project. In July 2016, the crowdfunding campaign was suspended and it wasn’t until a little later that Tryangle made the decision to move forward following a conversation with the studio.
“We had a private and confidential discussion with Warner Bros who contacted us during the period of the crowdfunding campaign,” director Gianmaria Pezzato told Polygon via email. “The only thing we can say is that they let us proceed with the film, in a non profit way, obviously.”
Tryangle’s case is similar to what Axanar Films went through last year with its Star Trek fan film, Axanar. The production company got into a lengthy legal battle with CBS and Paramount Pictures over the use of specific costumes, languages and images that the studios claimed belonged to them under copyright laws. Although Axanar Films, CBS and Paramount settled the dispute earlier this year, it led to CBS drawing up new guidelines for Star Trek fan projects. Fan films can’t exceed 15 minutes (30 minutes if digital), are prohibited from using clips from any of the Star Trek films or series, can’t use official costumes, must not include the name Star Trek and, most importantly, can’t be made for profit.
The main reason that Pezzato and co-director Stefano Prestia were able to get away with Origins of the Heir was because they decided to make the movie for no profit and release it for free on YouTube.
With the legal battle out of the way, Pezzato said they could focus on the story they wanted to tell. The director told Polygon the concept came from re-reading the sixth novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which spurred a number of questions they hadn’t thought about the first time around.
“We wondered, ‘What made Tom Riddle become Voldemort? What happened in those years, and what really went down at Hogwarts when he came back?’” Pezzato said. “There are some clues in the books which have not been transposed at all in the movies, but a lot goes unspoken. This is the story we want to tell: The rise of the Dark Lord before Harry Potter and his first demise.”
Voldemort: Origins of the Heir follows the heir of Gryffindor, Grisha Mac Laggen, as she tries to stop the emergence of Voldemort. The film follows Mac Laggen, “who suspects trouble when Hepzibah Smith (descendant of the ancient Hufflepuff family) was found murdered in her residence. The case goes cold, but Laggen feels that there’s something wrong, and she believes that Tom Marvolo Riddle is involved somehow,” Prestia explained.
The premise is an intriguing one, for both Harry Potter diehards and casual fans, and Tryangle Films have confirmed there will be mentions of other Harry Potter characters in the movie. Since debuting the trailer for the movie a few days ago, there have been more than 30 million views on Facebook and more than 1.8 million views on YouTube. With so much attention on the film, one of the lingering questions is whether or not Pezzato and Prestia have plans to work on other Harry Potter-related projects.
“We're totally focused on the film right now, so we have not any plans for other Harry Potter related stories at the moment,” Prestia said.
Production on the film started last fall and post-production on the movie is scheduled to start in the coming months. Pezzato and Prestia aim to have the movie available by the end of the year.