The film’s makers, Tryangle Films, are very careful to say it’s a non-commercial work that isn’t endorsed by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. or any of the companies managing that canon. Still, it scratches a big itch for Potter fans — the backstories of principal characters from the eight-movie series that spanned a decade.
Tryangle Films began a crowdfunding venture for the movie back in 2016, and shortly after the filmmakers were contacted by Warner Bros., the rights holders to the movie series. Crowdfunding went on hold as the two sides talked, and Tryangle emerged with tacit permission to make the film on a non-profit basis and launch it on YouTube.
The tension was worth it, because the story that co-directors Gianmaria Pezzato and Stefano Prestia wanted to tell concerns Tom Riddle, who becomes Lord Voldemort, the principal antagonist of the series. The two developed their concept after reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the 2005 novel that was adapted into a movie in 2009.
The story pits Grisha Mac Laggen, the heir of Gryffindor, against Riddle as he emerges into Voldemort. Riddle is positioned as someone responsible for the death of Hepzibah Smith, a descendant of the Hufflepuffs, whom Mac Laggen finds murdered in her residence.
Fans will no doubt be pleased that this kind of work got a thumbs up and earned the trust of the rights owners instead of a cease-and-desist. But these are more the exceptions rather than the rule. At any rate, it’s a free, nearly one-hour Harry Potter film for everyone to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon.