Sarasota Film Festival: We Are Wizards

We Are Wizards was definitely my favorite film at the Sarasota Film Festival this year. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books but I have seen most of the films and I'm not ashamed to admit that I love the story. This doc is about some of the culture that has sprouted up around Harry Potter like "wizard rock", online communities, comedic interpretation and religious criticism. The profiles really round out the characters and give their motives depth and background. The film is this perfect mix of humor and passion and creativity that surprised me. I didn't think you could do a story about people that have stories about creating stories based on a story and come out with something good.

Wizard rock is a term coined by the two guys in the band Harry and The Potters, who not only sing songs about Harry Potter but actually look like Daniel Radcliffe. Other wizard rock groups include The Hungarian Horntails (a couple of wildly creative boys), Draco and The Malfoys (a couple of guys with kids of their own), and Order Of Merlin. Watching little kids sitting in a library staring slack-jawed as a punk band yells their heads off is hilarious. The interviews with these groups take up the first half of the film but just when I thought the movie would focus solely on the rock aspect they switch it up.

Jumping to fans' community creations and coalitions they film focuses on a boycott led by Heather Lawver in order to stop Warner Brothers from sending cease and desist letters to Harry Potter fan sites. A religious critic is even featured to cover the topic of witchcraft and wizardry. Luckily they didn't pick some raving nut, but she did seem a bit misinformed.

The stubbly narrator you see in the beginning and end of the trailer above is Brad Neely, comic artist and creator of several funny-ass cartoons for Super Deluxe. In the trailer he's reading from a sort of soundtrack overlay he wrote, recorded and performed for the Harry Potter films called Wizard People, Dear Readers. Someone put together a VD rips of the films synced with the recording and I have one, but I have yet to watch it. In We Are Wizards he talks about Warner Bros. bringing the copyright hammer down on him and even performs a bit of infringement himself, adding a hell of a lot of comedy (an profanities, neat!) to the film.

In a Q&A with the director and editor they said they focussed on only a few individuals in the film because they wanted to give the people depth instead of a catalog of all things Harry Potter. They're hoping to get some sort of distribution or maybe even put the whole thing out online. It was shot in 4:3 so it could work well on TV. Even if you've only seen the films I would recommend this film, they made special effort to keep the subject matter light enough that anyone could follow it. You'll laugh, I swear.