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New Long Interview with David Yates

RyGuyRyGuy Posts: 7,837 mod
edited March 2012 in General
What’s your favorite part of the tour?
David Yates: Actually I have to confess, I haven’t been around yet. I’m going to come on Saturday for the opening and I’m going to have a good look around. I did have a quick peek through one of the halls and it was impressive. It’s actually lovely coming back. One, it’s really impressive to see how diligently and beautifully it’s all put together. And two, it’s just lovely to see some of the props that we worked with collected together.

You directed four out of eight. When you look around now, some of them may feel slightly more yours than others because of that.
David Yates: Yeah, I came on to the series when it was getting a little bit darker, and a little bit more emotionally mature. So, inevitably, what I wanted to do was to grow the series up a wee bit because the cast were growing older, the characters were dealing with deeper, darker more emotional issues. So my job, ultimately, was to help the series grow up a little bit more. My movies are perhaps a bit darker than the earlier ones. Chris Columbus did so brilliantly in the first two. He found that glorious cast, obviously, and he made the world so accessible and enjoyable and delightful and shiny and magical. But as the books progressed , they got more complex.

Does that darkening reflect itself in production design, costumes, cinematography, music, everything?
David Yates: It goes right across the board. It starts with the script. In a scene that would have been quite light and bright at one point, we’re just going a little deeper and a little more complicated and a little bit more emotional. So yeah, across every craft. Stuart Craig once said, “Once David got here, we changed the color of the walls.” It needed to reflect a slightly more intense world. But the great thing about the world is it’s got so much variety in it. What I loved about these books and these stories is that ultimately you could do comedy, you could drama, you could do action – at some points I felt like I was making a horror movie.

For example, when Harry in Hallows, Part 1, finds Bathilda Bagshot’s house and she turns into a snake, it sort of felt like a horror movie to me. And then equally the moments of real comedy and drama and spectacle. So what was really appealing about doing these movies was the fact that you were a filmmaking Jim. You were making all sorts of different movies all in one movie. And that might explain the success. The audiences got a very rich experience when they went into the theatre. They were not just with characters that they obviously adored and they were growing up with, but the movies were rarely one note. They had so much going on, and they would make you laugh and cry and gasp and all the rest of it.

From book 4 and 5 on, you’re basically reading the books before planning for the film really started. So when you first read book number 5 did you know you were going to be directing at that point and did you find anything daunting in the book as to how you were going to direct it? Or anything you were particularly excited about directing?
David Yates: I was really exciting about directing the wizard fight between Voldemort and Dumbledore in 5. I thought that’d be a really cool thing to do. I storyboarded it for months - just the fact that they’re two of the most powerful wizards in the word and you’ve never seen them fight before. You’ve seen levels of magic that children have been taught, but then you get these two supreme wizards. And I was really excited about making that visceral and violent and extraordinary and spectacular. So I really looked forward to that part of the story, and actually the emotional part.

It was my first opportunity to work with Dan Radcliffe and that first story is about him being very troubled and conflicted and angry all the time. In the book he gets really hysterical, so we had to temper that slightly but I was really excited about exploring him as a character, exploring how difficult he was finding school and how difficult it was him finding the relationships he was having with his mates. All of that was really fun to look forward to.

He was in The Woman in Black recently, where he has to play a similar character, quite troubled. Have you seen the film?
David Yates: I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve heard great things about it. And I am going to see it. I hear it’s really fun.

You said you’re possibly going to be directing a Doctor Who movie but Stephen Moffat wasn’t so sure – he might have refuted that. So where does that stand?
David Yates: Yeah, I’m definitely doing a Doctor Who movie. I think where everyone got confused was that we’re not making it for five years or six years. It’s a very slow development. I’ve got projects backed up between now and about 2015. It’s something I’m very passionate and excited about. Stephen’s a genius. I love his work. I think he’s incredibly clever. Clever with what he’s done with Doctor Who. I love his Sherlock Holmes. He’s such a gifted man. But this is something that’s a very, very slow burn. I’m hoping to sit down with him at some point and have a chat. It’s just something that we’ve been talking about for a little while.

Will it be tied in to the series or will it be a separate entity?
David Yates: That’s all to be discussed. It’s five years from now, six years from now. It’s weird because, what will the series be like in five or six years, you know? But I’m very excited about it. Very excited about that world.

Can I ask about your future projects like you mentioned? Are you doing a film with Emma Watson?
David Yates: I am. I’m planning a movie. I’ve got a book written by a lady called Emma Forrest called Your Voice in My Head and I’d love Emma to be in that. She’s very excited about being in that. And I’ve got a wonderful western called Reliable Life, and two or three other things I’m very excited about. I’d love to work with all of the young actors again at some point because I’m just such a fan of them as people and as actors.

This first project, Emma’s perfect for. It’s actually a very complicated role, as well. It’s about a girl who self-harms and tries to kill herself. It’s a million miles away from Potter, which is why it’s going to be quite fun to do. It’s about this girl who’s trying to kill herself and this psychiatrist who’s actually dying who teaches her how to live. It’s a very emotional, powerful, intriguing book.



  • RyGuyRyGuy Posts: 7,837 mod
    Are you, either separately or along with the two Davids [producers Heyman and Barron], actively looking for a returnable family-friendly franchise?
    David Yates: It’s always the case when you’re looking for things. But I think you’ve just nailed it. The minute you say this is the ‘next whatever’, you doom it. You know? I think David said it very eloquently. Ultimately, you just want to make things that excite you or intrigue you or inspire you, and that’s all you can do. And those things come along very rarely, ultimately.

    I think audiences like to commit to something that gives them a wonderful time. We are making a couple of movies together. We’re developing and planning things together. But again, they’re a few years away. It takes ages to develop things. From the minute you commission a script, get a writer on board – you go through 10 drafts. It takes awhile.

    But when Potter came along, there wasn’t a template. It invented it’s own. But for the next 20 years, everyone’s going to compare everything to Potter.
    David Yates: Of course. You’re absolutely right. And everyone tries to find the next Potter or the next Twilight or the next Hunger Games. It makes total sense to look for those ideas. But they’re like lightning. They don’t come along very often.

    Did any of the actors at any point really struggle with a scene in terms of the script or conjuring the emotions and how did you coach them through that?
    David Yates: You know, the trickiest things were big action sequences that were filmed across consecutive weeks. Just the length of time it takes. Actually, the hardest thing was the length of the shoots that we did. They went on for weeks and weeks and weeks – months , in fact – and across all the seasons. You do a scene in July, and then you’re doing its sister scene four months later. Just trying to keep everybody’s energy and focus and concentration in the right place, that’s the hardest thing, I’d say. But there were always challenging days.

    Emotional scenes were always the trickiest. Dobby’s death. When Dobby dies at the end of Part 1 was quite challenging. But what really helps is getting away from the studio. Because when you put actors in a green screen environment, they’re already struggling to create reality because they’ve got to imagine it. When we went to Wales to shoot Dobby’s death, you’re on the beach. It’s freezing cold. They’re soaking wet. They’re on borderline hypothermic, and that tactility and that connection with the real world, suddenly triggers so much more. I think if I’d do one thing differently – if I went back to the start of these movies and made them again – the one thing I would do differently would be, where we could, I’d say, “Let’s get out, away from the green screens. Let’s get out into the real world, and let’s connect with it.” Because it really helps. Even though Stuart Craig’s sets are absolutely beautiful, and you see many of them here.

    Did you ever see another bit of Stuart genius and think, “I can’t do that justice on screen”? It’s going to be onscreen for 20 seconds and I can’t light it well enough or I can’t exploit it well enough, but it’s a brilliant bit of architecture.
    David Yates: Every day you would see things. Just in the way that Stephanie McMillan would dress a set would sometimes inspire where you put the camera. You’d bring the camera so you’d have a wonderful piece of foreground that was delightful because Stuart and Stephanie would give you so many wonderful options and delightful angles to shoot from. So yeah, it was a veritable treasure trove of stuff because he’s so clever, and we had the resources as well. So one always tried to do justice to what Stuart was bringing. But, ultimately, it was always about the story, and that’s where I would always follow my instincts.

    Daniel, Rupert and Emma cried when the film was completed. How did you feel?
    David Yates: Very emotional. I didn’t cry. I was too knackered. (laughs) I was absolutely exhausted at the end, but I felt very emotional. Also, they ended but I didn’t quite. Because when you finish shooting – aside from a bit of ADR that I have to do – I then go into this postproduction phase, which is almost more intense than shooting because you have to edit. You have to make certain choices. You have to get the music. You have to finalize the visual effects. You have to dub it, mix it. It’s like you make a movie three times. The script process – you’re changing that all the time. Then shooting - you make choices every day about what you shoot. And then finally you get one last go to make it what it can be in the post-process.

    So I was too tired and I hadn’t quite finished to feel emotional. But, also, for them they’d been on this journey since they were this big, and can you imagine what that felt like? It was like saying, “That’s your childhood. The exit’s that way. Thank you so much. We love you very much, but you’re done now. Out into the world and make your way because it’s over.” You can’t imagine what that does to a kid who’s lived their life in this environment.

    So it was very emotional and really moving, but they’re doing all right actually now, I’d say. Rupert looks perfectly healthy. I speak with Emma every few weeks, and she seems to be enjoying her life post-Potter. And Dan’s doing amazing new work because he’s got such ambition and courage to take on things which stretch him and challenge him, and he’s got great instincts and taste.

    What can sometimes happen with films having lots of sequels, there’s no end goal in mind and sequels just turn into another money spinner. Whereas with this one, there’s a very definite story arc. Do you think that helped keep the energy up right until the very end?
    David Yates: Totally. I think the fact that the stories got darker and a bit more complicated probably helped. I think that each book that came out always offered something interesting and new for different actors in the series. I think a unique factor of the series is that you’re seeing these actors grow in front of you.

    That’s what I loved about it, was the fact that you were following these characters and these actors, and they were growing old in front of you. As you were getting older, they were getting older. I can’t think of a single other film series that has quite done that – other than Michael Apted’s brilliant Seven Up!, which is the documentary series. There’s something really magical about that in itself. At that’s why the end at Kings Cross, when they’ve grown up and they’ve got their own kids is, for me, so moving. It’s the cycle of life. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Do you have a favorite film of the Harry Potter series?
    David Yates: I loved Alfonso’s film. I thought that was absolutely terrific. I love Alfonso as a filmmaker. I think he’s very special and gifted, but then I made Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and that’s my favorite. I can say that because I’m always hammering my own work. But I really enjoyed Hallows, Part 2. I thought it was nice just finishing the series and I just liked having a big final fight with Voldemort and Harry – concluding the thing and bringing it to the end. I’m proud of that film. But I think Alfonso’s brilliant.
  • nick_hansennick_hansen Posts: 2,305 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Lovely interview. Nice to finally read an interview Potter related after such a long time. :)
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