David Yates

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David Yates is a multi BAFTA-winning English television and film director, known for directing half of the Harry Potter film franchise.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early Life

David Yates was born in St Helens, England in 1963. From an early age he was fascinated with the works of film directors, with Steven Speilberg'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 characterization, 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.

[edit] Career

[edit] Film and TV projects (1988-2005)

Living in Swindon in the 1980s, Yates became a freelancer for Cre8 Studios whose facilities helped him make his first serious film, When I Was a Girl. Yates said that the studio was "the perfect place to experiment and where I really grew to understand how films could be made."[1] The short film, which was shot in Swindon town under a grant from Thamesdown Arts, 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 program. 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, which explored low-budget filmmaking in Britain.

From 1994 to 1995, Yates directed several episodes of the ITV police series The Bill, before directing and producing (alongside Alistair Clarke) three episodes of the English television documentary, Tale of Three Seaside Towns. The programme followed media personalities Russell Grant, Honor Blackman and Pam Ayres visiting and exploring three towns in the South Coast. Yates directed the short film Punch before making his feature film debut in 1998 with the release of the small independent The Tichborne Claimant. The film, based on the Tichbourne case, was written by Joe Fisher.

Yates returned to television in 2000 to helm several episodes of the BBC miniseries The Sins, along with directing The Way We Live Now, a four-part television adaptation of the novel of the same name by Anthony Trollope. 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,[2] which expressed the elements of racism, friendship and adolescents through the story of a street gang that cross Glasgow to witness the arrival of a group of Somali refugees.[3]

The 2003 six-part thriller State of Play was Yates' next directorial achievement.[4] The critically acclaimed TV serial, scripted and created by Paul Abbott, became a major turning point in Yates' career with him being nominated for a BAFTA TV Award and winning a Directors Guild of Great Britain Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.[5] The quality of the serial sparked Hollywood film bosses to adapt 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.[6]

As a result of his previous directorial success, Yates moved on to helm more high-profile projects such as the television film The Young Visiters, starring Jim Broadbent alongside Hugh Laurie. A review of the film from Variety for BBC America said that "The Young Visiters is a family film but not really a children's story. That's a delicate high-wire act, and director David Yates (whose credits include the BBC thriller State of Play) and writer Patrick Barlow have deftly tiptoed through it, yielding a warm and surprisingly unsentimental production that has "evergreen" written all over it."[7]

In 2004, Yates directed Channel 4's two-part drama Sex Traffic which won eight BAFTA Awards including Best Film Editing for Mark Day, who regularly collaborated with Yates on many of his television projects and short films. Day commented on working with Yates saying that "we are very good friends because we have spent so much time together", also commenting on how Yates shot Sex Traffic, attesting that "David shoots in a similar style from piece to piece, although this wasn’t quite as frantic as State of Play." Yates was also nominated for another Directors Guild Award for his gritty direction of Sex Traffic.[8]

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 tells the story of Lawrence (Nighy), an aging, lonely civil servant who falls for Gina (Macdonald), an enigmatic young woman. When he takes her to the G8 Summit in Reykjavik, however, their bond is tested by Lawrence's professional obligations.[9] As well as receiving success in Britain on BBC Wales, the film was noted in the United States where it was broadcast on Home Box Office. The film won three Emmy 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,[10] who was also the casting director of the Harry Potter films.[11]

[edit] Harry Potter (2006-2011)

He received his highest-profile assignment in 2005 when he was chosen by Warner Bros. Pictures to direct the fifth Harry Potter movie, 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 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. 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.

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. 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.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph piror 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 and scored 88% from top film critics, with the results being compiled by Rottem Tomatoes. The film also won numerous awards, as well as being nominated for Best Cinematography at the 82nd Academy Awards.

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". 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 judgment, 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."

Half of the Harry Potter franchise has been directed by Yates, who has helmed four out of the eight entries since 2006. He has been in production for six consecutive years.

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Director

[edit] Producer

  • Tale of Three Seaside Towns (3 episodes, 1995)
  • When I Was a Girl (1988)

[edit] Writer

  • When I Was a Girl (1988) (screenplay)

[edit] References

  1. David Yates, Cre8 Studios, Swindon
  2. BAFTA website: Rank, 2002
  3. Rank, BritFilms
  4. David Yates, State of Play
  5. David Yates, DGGB Award for State of Play
  6. BBC News, State of Play adaptation
  7. Hugh Laurie.net, The Young Visiters
  8. Mark Day, Editor. BAFTA Awards
  9. The Girl in the Cafe synopsis
  10. 2006 Emmy Awards
  11. David Yates' Biography - Career