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Director David Yates Conjures Up Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By B. Alan Orange — July 9th, 2007

David Yates Conjures Up The Order of the Phoenix

David Yates talks about his time spent on the Harry Potter 5 set

David Yates is the fourth director to tackle the HP series with his upcoming installment Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Studio executives liked his work so much, they have asked him to come back for part six, entitled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Heck, he might even come back for the final film in the franchise Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

He completely nails the first ten minutes of the film, giving the sequel a new sheen of freshness that lasts throughout its running time. The movie is not the best in the series, but it certainly is up there.

David Yates recently sat down with us to discuss his work at the Hogwarts school of Wizardry. Here is what he had to say about the experience:

Can you describe the challenges of making a film like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?

David Yates: Initially, it's pretty scary. When you go to Leavesden, which is where these movies are shot, the scale of the enterprise is just enormous. I went to see Mike Newell shoot Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for half a day and it feels like you're walking into this Roman arena. It's massive. You've got butterflies in your tummy to begin with, but I really, really quickly found my feet. I think what you do is you just learn to prioritize what the most important thing for you to focus on as a director is. And for me it was working with Michael on the screenplay, pushing the performances and putting a creative team together which is a kind of combination of people I've worked with before and people who had already done some Potter. Actually, it's an incredibly safe environment. That's what I'd say about Potter David Heyman and David Barron are both incredibly supportive. The studio was very excited by the dailies so I felt actually quickly very, very confident about the whole thing and I had a great time doing it really.

How do you approach the viewer who might not be familiar with the world you are creating?

David Yates: I think, to a certain extent, I have to feel that the audience is going to bring a certain knowledge to the movies when they walk through the door. There's inevitable connective tissue. The adaptive process is quite tricky. The worst thing you can do in a movie is take the audience out of the moment. Once you start referring back to things that are relevant to the story you're telling or try to predict things that might be coming, it tends to fall into the expositional and that's not great for theatrical experience. We try to put as much of that out as possible in this movie.

What was the weirdest thing that happened while shooting the film? Did you see any ghosts?

David Yates: There are no ghosts at Leavesden. Nothing weird has happened.

Do you ever feel tempted to tamper with the storyline at all? And how was it having Evonna on the set?

David Yates: You inevitably have to loose things along the way to service a theatrical experience for an audience. Evonna was just utterly delightful to be around. I'm sure she knows more than J.K. Rowling. She's just a formidable mind of information. She's very sweet and very lovely and she really knew Luna Lovegood inside and out. I was able to lean on that and we were able to have very frank conservations about what Luna would and wouldn't do. She's just so delightful and she's a natural actor. That's what was really delightful about her is that you can't see the acting. That's my favorite kind of acting actually.

Are there a lot of deleted scenes in this film and what we can look forward to on the DVD?

David Yates: We actually didn't lose that much. It's really interesting because we had such a tight script going in. There are about a half of dozen scenes that are going to be on the DVD extras. There's a really sweet scene with Emma Thompson who plays Trelawney. I just did this improvised scene with her while she's eating dinner while Imelda is doing the big speech in the great hall. Emma does this whole comedic routine where you know she's very short sided so she ends up spilling her dinner all over and it goes on for about three minutes. It's really Chaplinesque actually. Obviously there was no room in the film for that so we've stuck it on the DVD extras. There's a terrific scene with Imelda and Emma when Imelda is kind of assessing Trelawney and we montage that whole scene in the cut. It's actually a self-contained scene in its own right. It's actually very funny. And then three or four other things that are quite fun.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens on July 13th, 2007.

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