A film wizard instrumental in bringing the Harry Potter film series to life is swapping his home of 25 years for the bright lights of Los Angeles.

Dan Dark, 55, who has led Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden since 2010, says he cannot quite believe his career path - and his CV has just become even more impressive.

After a total of 25 years in Leavesden, Dan is moving across the pond to Hollywood where he will take the role of executive vice president of worldwide studio operations.

In 1994, when Dan showed the makers of Goldeneye around an old and deserted 1940s factory in Leavesden, never in his wildest dreams did he believe this site would the home of some of the biggest movies - and the home of Harry Potter.

Dan said: “I’d just spent three years in Spain where I had a child and created a TV studio facility. But I was back in the UK and Goldeneye needed space to shoot. We stumbled across this leaking building with no power in Leavesden.

“They asked me if I could turn this building into a studio and I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. We were able to create a temporary set up and shoot the film.”

You may wonder how Dan was able to pull this set up off.

He explains: “My dad was a film producer - he produced the original Casino Royale and Shirley Valentine. I spent my school holidays on sets. I became a runner after finishing school at 16, then began climbing the ladder, becoming an assistant director. But it was quiet so I made the move across to special effects. I worked on the Alien films and James Bond.”

During his time in special effects, Dan was dragged down a runway by a parachute attached to a driving car, squashed by a prison van underwater, and came face-to-face with a 300 pound tiger shark.

In 2000, giants of the film industry Warner Bros came along looking for somewhere to shoot Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and a lease was agreed in Leavesden. Every Potter film has been produced there since.

In 2010, Warner Bros agreed to buy Leavesden Studios, and in 2011, a huge rebuild began alongside the Harry Potter tour.

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Dan was given the role of managing director, a role he remained in until his move to the US this month.

Dan said: “Not until Warner Bros came to purchase the property did we realise we’d be able to build a new facility. One of the great advantages of Leavesden is we started with a blank canvas. But never did I believe we would continue building and expanding to meet demand in the years since. We’ve pretty much trebled our investment. It has been an amazing journey.

“However, it’s very much about the team - the team are the very best in the business. That’s why we’ve got complete confidence in me moving over to LA because the team here can absolutely step in and continue to operate the facility at the same standard we have done for years.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking Dan’s proudest achievement has been bringing production of one of the world’s biggest film series to our corner of Hertfordshire.

But actually, Dan was more excited and honoured to talk about the relationship the studios have formed with the community in Three Rivers and Watford over the last decade.

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Dan Dark (third from left, front, taking part in a charity run)

He said: “What I’m proudest about is the work we have done and will continue to do in the local community. It’s a really special relationship that we have with a number of charities, organisations, and schools that have really helped us to be fully integrated into what is a really strong community around us.

“There’s no question this bond with the community is my proudest achievement when I stand back.

“We held an event in December and the number of charities and organisations and local authorities and dignitaries that turned up really paid testament to what we have created here.”

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And how does Dan feel about leaving Leavesden behind for the bright lights of LA?

“When offered an opportunity and challenge like this, like I said, I’ve never been one to shy away. It’s a great challenge, really exciting. I can see some wonderful opportunities moving forward.

“I’ve been in the same office for 20 years to it will quite strange driving somewhere else.

“I could never have imagined I’d be in the position I am in now. I thought I’d stay in production but then I moved to special effects and I thought that would be it. Then I moved and built a TV studios in Spain and thought that was going to be it for rest of my life.

“But I came back, ended up at Leavesden and thought I’d be running this place for maybe a year.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we have something as substantial as we have got but we have and its fantastic. I just want to say a massive thank you to the community who have always supported us.”