Harry Potter Wiki
Harry Potter Wiki

David Yates is an English filmmaker who is best known for directing the final four films in the Harry Potter series as well as the first three instalments in the Fantastic Beasts film series. He is also expected to be directing the remaining two films.[1]

His first two Potter films became the highest-grossing entries in the series after the first instalment, which was later surpassed by Yates's two films Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2., making him the most commercially successful British director in recent years.[2][3][4]

Yates achieved international attention for his award-winning short films early in his career and is known for directing several television films and dramas, such as the critically acclaimed BBC political thriller State of Play and the BAFTA-lauded two-part drama Sex Traffic. One of his directorial trademarks is the use of the hand-held camera.[5][6]

Among various awards, Yates has had success at the BAFTA Awards, Emmy Awards and has been acknowledged at the Saturn Awards. He is the only director in the series to win a Best Director award for his work on Harry Potter, winning the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Award for Directing Excellence in 2011.[7][8][9]


Early life[]

David Yates was born in St Helens, England on 8 October 1963. From an early age he was fascinated with the works of film directors, with Steven Spielberg's 1974 film Jaws and the 1951 film The Thing from Another World being two favourites in particular. Yates went to see Jaws in the cinema, where at least a dozen of his subsequent 35 viewings took place. He attempted to understand the production and story elements of motion pictures, observing the characterisation, pacing and suspense and with each viewing, surveying the reactions of the audience. He began pulling friends and family into the cast of short films at the age of 14, using a camera his mother had given him. Yates followed up on a more academic track, taking up the subjects of sociology, political studies, and literature at St Helens College before moving onto the University of Essex and Georgetown University in Washington.[10][11]


Living in Swindon in the 1980s, Yates became a freelancer for Create Studios whose facilities helped him make his first serious film, When I Was a Girl. The short film later made the festival circuit and helped with his acceptance into the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, where he studied under its directing programme. When I Was a Girl also marked Yates’ entry into the UK’s entertainment industry, with the BBC hiring him to make the dramatic short Oranges and Lemons in 1991. He also directed the short film The Weaver's Wife, along with Good Looks and an episode of the film studies programme, Moving Pictures.

From 1994 to 1995, Yates directed several episodes of the ITV police series The Bill, before directing three episodes of Tale of Three Seaside Towns and Punch. He then moved into his first feature film, a small independent called The Tichborne Claimant.

Yates returned to television to helm several episodes of the BBC miniseries, The Sins, along with directing a faithful adaptation of The Way We Live Now. Yates, along with writer Andrew Davies and producer Nigel Stafford-Clark, shared a BAFTA Award win for Best Drama Serial. One year later, Yates was back with a nomination for the short film, Rank.

The 2003 six-part thriller State of Play was Yates' next directorial achievement.[12] The acclaimed TV serial, scripted and created by Paul Abbott, became a major turning point in Yates' career with it being recognised by various award ceremonies, notably achieving the Peabody Award for Broadcasting Excellence, along with Yates himself being nominated for a BAFTA TV Award and winning a Directors Guild of Great Britain Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.[13] The quality of the serial sparked Hollywood film bosses to consider adapting it into a film, with producer Andrew Hauptman claiming that "it's a blistering political thriller and we want to make an equally blistering movie." Abbot sold the rights to Universal Studios, however Yates had little say in the matter as Abbot was the original creator of the serial. The film was eventually released in 2009.[14]

Yates gained an Emmy Award nomination for his direction of Richard Curtis' script to the 2005 television film The Girl in the Café, starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald. The film won three awards, most notably the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, along with achieving four other nominations including Outstanding Casting by Fiona Weir,[15] who was also the casting director of the Harry Potter films.[16]

Harry Potter[]

Order of the Phoenix[]

David Yates filming

David Yates on the set of Order of the Phoenix

He received his highest-profile assignment in 2005 when he was chosen by Warner Bros. Pictures to direct the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Before filming began, Yates visited Leavesden Studios and observed filming of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was directed by Mike Newell. Yates took Newell to a pub and "picked his brains about what it was going to be like to step into someone's shoes on a movie of this scale."[17][18]

He was also involved in conversations with Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón and author J. K. Rowling prior to the start of production on Order of the Phoenix.[19] He was then reunited with old friends Mark Day and Nicholas Hooper, who had worked with Yates on some of his previous television credits as editor and composer respectively.[20][21] At the end of the film, Yates makes a cameo appearance in a magical moving portrait which was accomplished during post-production. The fifth film opened to critical and commercial success, becoming an instant high performer at the box office as well as receiving many nominations and wins.

Half-Blood Prince[]

Davidyates- halfblood prince

David Yates on the set of Half-Blood Prince.

Yates was then selected to direct the sixth entry in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. During production of the film, Warner Bros. announced that the final novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was to be split into two [[cinematic parts with Yates, once again, as the director.[22] In an interview with the Directors Guild of America, Yates commented on the producers' decision to appoint him as director for the final films, declaring that "they wanted to do a Harry Potter that felt realer, and more grown up. What’s smart about the studio and the producers is they have always wanted to push it a bit. Chris [Columbus] did a wonderful job of casting and making this world incredibly popular. But rather than do more of the same, they said, 'Let's bring in Alfonso Cuarón and let him run with it. Then later, let's bring in David Yates, who’s done all this hard-hitting stuff on TV. It's a testament to their ambition to try and keep the franchise fresh. The bizarre thing is, I did one and they asked me to stay for three more, so obviously they liked something."[23]

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph prior to the release of Half-Blood Prince, Yates stated that the film is "a little bit more grown up and a bit wittier" than his previous Potter entry. The sixth film adaptation became the second highest grossing film of 2009[24] and scored 88% from top film critics, with the results being compiled by Rotten Tomatoes.[25] The film also won numerous awards, as well as being nominated for Best Cinematography at the 82nd Academy Awards.[26] Yates worked alongside cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and digital film colourist Peter Doyle on extensively colour grading the picture and developing the "choice of angles, the extreme close-ups, [and] the pacing of the scenes." Yates described the style and look of the film as "very layered" and "incredibly rich."[27]

Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2[]


David Yates on the set of Deathly Hallows

Yates began to film the two parts of Deathly Hallows back to back in early 2009, with the final shoot taking place on 12 June, 2010. Yates stated that he filmed the two parts of the final motion picture differently, with Part 1 being "quite verite" and having a "road movie" style, while Part 2 is "much more operatic, colourful and fantasy orientated", a "big opera with huge battles".[28][29][30][31] While on the set of Deathly Hallows, Yates gave an interview with the Los Angeles Times in which he spoke of working with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, the three lead actors of the series. "It was an extraordinary bit of judgement, bringing those three in. They have been so stable and level-headed and in working with them I continue to be impressed by how keen they are to challenge themselves and to try new things to bring out the characters that they portray."

Deathly Hallows Part 1 was released in November 2010 to generally positive reviews, with J. K. Rowling announcing it's her "favourite so far".[32] Professional critics also praised the film, with the Broadcast Film Critics Association awarding the film 87/100, leading to a "Critic's Choice" certificate.[33] Other reviews commented on Yates' directing style, with The Dallas Morning News stating that "David Yates' fluid, fast-paced direction sends up the crackling tension of a thriller." Another review claimed that "there's a good, solid, workmanlike integrity to what director David Yates does here", with a top film critic from the The New York Times expressing that Yates "has shown a knack for capturing and quickening Ms. Rowling’s storytelling rhythm. He has also demonstrated a thorough, uncondescending sympathy for her characters, in particular the central trio of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry himself", rating the film 4.5/5 stars.[34] At the world première of the film in Leicester Square, London, Harry Potter producer David Heyman stated that Yates "has done the most incredible job with these films".[35]

Part 2 was screened in July 2011 and became an instant record-breaking success with universal acclaim; it is the most acclaimed Harry Potter film.[36][37] The Daily Telegraph described Part 2 as "monumental cinema awash with gorgeous tones" and Total Film wrote that Yates combines "spectacle and emotion into a thrilling final chapter."[38][39] Yates was praised for the "sharply directed" film and was acknowledged for his "genuine visual sense", with author J. K. Rowling remarking that "everyone who watches Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is going to see that he's steered us home magnificently. It's incredible."[40][41]

Half of the Harry Potter franchise has been directed by Yates, who has helmed four out of the eight entries since 2006. Daniel Radcliffe commented on working with Yates and compared his directorial style with the previous directors in the series, saying that "he took the charm of the films that Chris [Columbus] made and the visual flair of everything that Alfonso [Cuarón] did and the thoroughly British, bombastic nature of the film directed by Mike Newell and he's added his own sense of grit and realism to it that perhaps wasn’t there so much before .... I think we all had a fantastic time working with David. I know we did."[42]

Post Potter career[]

Yates will direct Cicero, starring Tom Hardy as Al Capone[43]. He was to direct the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Stand, with Steve Kloves writing the screenplay.[44] However, he was replaced by Ben Affleck.


David Yates

Yates at a Los Angeles Harry Potter première



  • The Legend of Tarzan (2016, executive)
  • Tyrant (1 episode, 2014; executive)
  • Tale of Three Seaside Towns (3 episodes, 1995)
  • When I Was a Girl (1988)


  • The Weaver's Wife (1991)
  • When I Was a Girl (1988)


Notes and references[]

  1. Fantastic Beasts: David Yates Still Committed to Directing All 5 Films, Says Katherine Waterston
  2. "Box Office History for Harry Potter Movies", the-numbers.com, The Numbers. Retrieved on 4 March 2011. 
  3. "Statistical Yearbook 2010, 7.3 UK directors", The UK Film Council. Retrieved on 4 March 2011. "David Yates’s two Harry Potter films (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) made him the British director with the most commercial success in recent years, with total box office takings of $1.87 billion" 
  4. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Conjures International Box Office Magic, Becoming Top Earner of Entire Film Series", Burbank, California: Business Wire (9 March 2011 09:06 pm Eastern Time). Retrieved on 10 March 2011. 
  5. David Yates: Hand-held Camera: Potter and State of Play
  6. Trademark: Hand-held camera
  7. David Yates: BAFTA 2011
  8. David Yates: BAFTA Awards
  9. David Yates: Saturn Award
  10. David Yates at the National Film and Television School
  11. David Yates' Bio - Early Life
  12. David Yates, State of Play
  13. David Yates, DGGB Award for State of Play
  14. BBC News, State of Play adaptation
  15. 2006 Emmy Awards
  16. David Yates' Biography - Career
  17. David Yates' interview with BBC Radio 1
  18. David Yates talks with Mike Newell
  19. David Yates' conversation mentioned on PotterCast
  20. Nicholas Hooper joins Order of the Phoenix
  21. Mark Day joins Order of the Phoenix
  22. David Yates to direct Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2
  23. David Yates on Potter Direction
  24. Half-Blood Prince 2nd Highest Grossing film of 2009
  25. Half-Blood Prince 88%
  26. David Yates' Half-Blood Prince nominated for Best Cinematography
  27. Yates and Delbonnel on HBP
  28. David Yates: Part 1 Verite
  29. David Yates on Order of the Phoenix
  30. David Yates on Half-Blood Prince
  31. David Yates on Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2
  32. Rowling - DH fav
  33. BFCA Hallows Part 1
  34. David Yates' Deathly Hallows
  35. Heyman on Yates: Incredible Job
  36. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011)", Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 7 July 2011. 
  37. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2", Metacritic. Retrieved on 15 July 2011. 
  38. Philip Womack, (10:00 pm, 6 July 2011). "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, review", The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 6 July 2011. 
  39. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2", Total Film (7 July 2011). Retrieved on 7 July 2011. 
  40. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - reviewed", Yahoo! Movies (8 July 2011). Retrieved on 9 July 2011. 
  41. "Wild About Harry", BBC (15 July 2011). Retrieved on 16 July 2011. 
  42. Radcliffe talks Yates
  43. http://www.totalfilm.com/news/tom-hardy-attached-to-play-al-capone-in-a-david-yates-cicero
  44. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=31738
  45. http://variety.com/2014/film/news/harry-potter-director-to-return-for-fantastic-beasts-spinoff-exclusive-1201286193#u=http://variety.com/2014/film/news/harry-potter-director-to-return-for-fantastic-beasts-spinoff-exclusive-1201286193;k=pmc-adi-31bb2464aad8b905af7a81e1d57b77ae

External links[]