David Yates
Birth Date:
Birth Place:
St. Helens, Merseyside, England, UK
Famous for:
The man behind the popular “Harry Potter” films
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Harry Potter Filmmaker


"In an ideal world, I'd bounce between big projects and no-budget TV dramas with fantastic scripts. A lot of Hollywood films tend to be bloated, bombastic, loud. At the same time, I do like the infrastructure of making a blockbuster; it's like having a big train set." David Yates

English film and television director David Yates is best recognized as the man behind the popular "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007). He also directed the highly-anticipated sequel "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and will direct the upcoming "Harry Potter" final films, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II."

This BAFTA winning and Emmy Award nominated filmmaker, whose trade mark is the use of hand-held cameras, had previously directed a number of BBC productions, including “When I Was a Girl” (1991), “The Sins” (2000), “The Way We Live Now” (2001), “State of Play” (2003), “The Young Visiters” (2003), “Sex Traffic” (2004) and “The Girl in the Café” (2005).

"People who work in television often don't think they can trust film makers because they are supposed to be a bit more arty and self indulgent, and people in film might think anyone who works in television is a hack. If we had more filmmakers working in television, and more television writers and directors working in film, we'd have a much healthier and more vital industry." David Yates

British Talent

Childhood and Family:

Born in 1963 in St. Helens, Merseyside, England, David Yates studied politics, English literature and sociology at St Helens College in Merseyside. He also attended the University of Essex and then the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, where he excelled as a student. Yates has one brother named Andrew.

State of Play


First inspired to become a director after seeing Steven Spielberg's “Jaws,” David Yates, whose favorite directors are David Lean, Ken Loach, and Martin Scorsese, received his first camera from his mother at the age of 14 and began making small movies with his brother in local parks. He later decided to study the craft at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.

In 1988, Yates produced, wrote, and directed his first film, "When I Was a Girl," a short drama set just after World War II. He followed it up with two more short dramas, "The Weaver's Wife" (1991), a 30-minute piece set in rural Wiltshire in the late 16th century, and "Oranges and Lemons" (1991). He also helmed a 30-minute short comedy film titled "Good Looks" (1992).

Yates subsequently went to television and directed multiple episodes of the long running British police procedural drama series "The Bill” from 1994 to 1995. He also directed the documentary series "Moving Pictures" and "Tale of Three Seaside Towns,” and the 10-minute drama film "Punch" (1996). He then directed the independent drama "The Tichborne Claimant" (1988), which received an Emden Film Award nomination at the 1999 Emden International Film Festival.

Entering the new millennium, Yates helmed the dramatic miniseries "The Sins.” He went on to direct the four-part television adaptation of the Anthony Trollope novel "The Way We Live Now" (2001; starring David Suchet, Matthew Macfadyen, Shirley Henderson, and Cillian Murphy) on BBC One, which won the Best Drama Serial at the 2002 BAFTA Awards.

After directing the 15-minute short drama film "Rank" (2002), which was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2003 BAFTA Awards, Yates helmed BBC One television’s "State of Play" (2003; starring David Morrissey, John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, Polly Walker, Bill Nighy, and James McAvoy), which won a DGGB (Directors Guild of Great Britain) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television Movie/Serial and a Cologne Conference Award for Best Fiction Program. He also directed the made-for-television movies "The Young Visiters" (2003; starring Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and Bill Nighy) and "Sex Traffic" (2004; starring Wendy Crewson), which won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama Serial and was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series and a DGGB (Directors Guild of Great Britain) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television Movie/Mini Series. Additionally, he directed "The Girl in the Café" (2005; starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald), which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

2007 saw Yates score a big break when he was chosen to direct the fifth film adaptation in the popular "Harry Potter" film series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The fantasy adventure film, which was based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling and starred Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, was a critical and commercial success and became the seventh highest grossing film of all time. The film earned him a Saturn Award - Best Director nomination at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and won him an Empire Award for Best Director and an Audience Award (Best Film) at the European Film Awards.

When asked if he was competitive with the previous “Harry Potter” directors, Yates replied, "Do you know what? I don’t think you can be a director without a kind of sense of competitiveness. It’s quite a competitive business, but I mean in truth I loved those earlier films, but when you come to a series like this you’re desperate to put your stamp on it and you’re desperate to kind of move it forward and do your best. So I’m very proud of the film that we’ve made and we’re doing ‘Half-Blood Prince’ next and I want that to be a better film than five. So, yep.”

Film star Daniel Radcliffe also talked about working with Yates, “What David managed to do, which is fantastic, is 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. It’s the film that I’m certainly most proud of. I think we all had a fantastic time working with David. I know we did.”

Yates recently completed the sixth "Harry Potter" film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which will be released on July 17, 2009. He is now working on the seventh and final "Harry Potter" films, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I," which is slated for release on November 19, 2010, and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II," which will be released on July 15, 2011.

"I like to create an atmosphere where actors feel safe enough to take risks. I certainly don't believe in being a macho bully. I'm not interested in frightening good work out of people. It's bollocks." David Yates


  • Empire: Best Director, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," 2008

  • European Film: Audience Award - Best Film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," 2008

  • BAFTA TV: Best Drama Serial, "Sex Traffic," 2005

  • DGGB (Directors Guild of Great Britain): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television Movie/Serial, "State of Play," 2004

  • Cologne Conference: Best Fiction Program, "State of Play," 2004

  • BAFTA TV: Best Drama Serial, "The Way We Live Now," 2002

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