News, On Campus, Featured Story

“Special Delivery:” Behind the Scenes of Admissions Video

Although prospective students admitted to the Class of 2022 do not actually receive admissions decisions by owl or eagle, new admits can revel in the similarities between Boston College and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in “Special Delivery.” The video, part of a yearly tradition to welcome admitted students, was produced by University Communications in recognition of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone being released in the United States.

John Walsh, a University Communications creative producer and BC ’17, said that BC’s Hogwarts-esque architecture was one of the things that attracted him to the University when he was still in high school. Once he arrived, he began taking classes with Rev. Michael Himes, another Harry Potter fan. Walsh said that it was Himes who originally had the idea for the theme—he also served as the Dumbledore figure in the video.

While Walsh was an undergraduate, he often spoke with Himes about the themes of the series and how they relate to “big questions” of life at BC and beyond.

“In a Jesuit, liberal arts environment here at BC, where we are so often asked to consider the big questions of life throughout our education and experiences, I couldn’t help but reflect on the book and so many of its themes throughout my time at BC,” Walsh said in an email. “I also think there is something so nostalgic and powerful about Harry’s discovery that he was admitted to the magical world of Hogwarts—a letter that most millennials wish they could receive—that I hoped to draw upon that emotion and nostalgia so familiar to this generation while welcoming students to BC.”

Walsh began to pitch the idea to University Communications, the Office of Undergraduate Admission, and the University Wind Ensemble of BC shortly after he began working full-time for the University in August. Once it was approved, he went on to film the main scenes between January and March of 2018.

The video opens to “Hedwig’s Theme” and professor Kerry Cronin sitting at a desk, writing with a quill in front of bookcases reminiscent of the architecture of the beloved castle in the book and movie series. She picks up a copy of The Heights, Walsh’s idea of what BC’s version of The Daily Prophet is, with a headline bearing a welcome to the Class of 2022. Articles on the front page contain admissions statistics and share news about house prefects, as it would if the Heights were in fact Hogwarts.

To create the moving newspaper, Walsh worked with Owen Edwards, a designer in the University Communications office. They used a green screen that was replaced with the Gasson drone clip and the moving headlines. Other special effects included candles floating in the sky in Bapst, for which Walsh used a green screen again and worked with Paul Dagnello, senior digital media and web producer at BC, to create the realistic image imitating The Great Hall.

A student wearing a scarf the colors of BC and Gryffindor ascends the stairs in Bapst Library, entering Gargan Hall, which BC tour guides refer to as “The Great Hall.” Candles are suspended in the air as students study, in character with the happenings of the wizarding world.

She enters through a hidden bookcase entrance—it may look familiar to BC students who have been on 48Hours, Kairos, or Halftime. It exists in the main living room of the BC’s Connors Retreat Center, where the 60 percent of BC students that participate in retreats might stay. Following the Gargan Hall scene, viewers watch as John Luniewicz, BC Campus Facilities staff and P ’18 & ’19, climbs up a spiral to the Gasson Hall tower, of which he is the keeper.

In the clock tower sits an eagle, to whom he hands an envelope with the BC stamp. The camera closes up on the same envelope sitting on the front step of someone’s home—when she takes it inside, she opens it to find that she has been accepted. Back at BC, double doors open to reveal the University Wind Ensemble of BC playing “Leaving Hogwarts” as Himes stands, raising a chalice. With a slight smile, he says, “Boston College expects great things of you.”

The video ends with an impressive shot of Gasson Tower at night, with “Boston College” appearing gold letters across the screen.

“Though we are obviously not Hogwarts and the video was intended to be fun and playful, alums of BC have a love and gratitude for their BC experience unlike any other, and I hope this video captured some of the BC’s community’s unique spirit and the love that so many share for the Heights,” Walsh said.

Featured Image via Peter Julian / University Communications

March 28, 2018