David Yates Talks HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, Why He Isn’t Directing THE STAND, and His Al Capone Movie

by     Posted 3 years, 8 days ago

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The Harry Potter film franchise came to an end this summer with director David Yates’ brilliant concluding chapter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.  As an avid fan of the books, I thought the film hit all the right notes and Yates captured our farewell to these beloved characters with nuanced grace.  I’m currently in Orlando, Florida at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the Blu-ray/DVD release of the franchise’s final installment, and got the chance to sit down with Yates for an extended conversation.

The director talked about what he’s been doing since the last film hit theaters, his impressions of Universal’s Harry Potter theme park, his reaction to Warner Bros.’ decision to pull all Harry Potter DVDs from the shelves after the end of this year, his opinion on post-converting past Harry Potter films to 3D for their eventual theatrical re-release, and he also revealed why he decided not to take on the feature film adaptation of Steven King’s The Stand, and gave an update on his Al Capone biopic. Hit the jump for more.

When asked about the inevitable theatrical 3D re-release of the Harry Potter films sometime down the road, Yates said that he’d like the post-conversion to be up to the quality of Deathly Hallows Part 2:

“It would probably be wise to wait a wee while, to let the technology and the conversion process get better. To let the viewing experience of 3D get better, and that will come in 3, 4, 5 years time I’m sure. We spent a lot of effort on Part 2 to get it looking as beautiful as possible. I think it would be quite exciting to do that to the other films, but I think timing is everything and I think there are still lots of issues with 3D. The quality of the conversions needs to be better and the viewing experience needs to be better, generally I would say. Again, Warners will do what they’re gonna do, but I would say it’s probably best to wait.”

Regarding his next project, Yates is planning on doing a small film in order to relax a bit after helming four ginormous Harry Potter films back-to-back. He hasn’t pinned down which project he’s taking on, but he’s mulling over a couple different films and his hope is to begin shooting next year:

“[I’m deciding between] a few different things, and I have to make a commitment quite soon. But I’ve had some time off to really think about that commitment, and I’ve been sort of holding these two or three things and trying to figure out which one to go with, and I didn’t wanna make that choice while I was still adrenalized and tired from finishing off four movies back-to-back…I’d love to make something right about the spring/summer next year, that’s the plan, and it’s gonna be one of these three or four things.”

david_yates_01A couple of months ago, it was announced that Yates would be tackling a multi-film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Stand with Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves. However, weeks later Ben Affleck was offered the job, with no update as to Yates’ status on the project. Well, the director revealed that he was offered the chance to direct the film but he ultimately passed. He spoke a bit about what initially drew him to the adaptation, and why he turned it down:

“I was offered The Stand. I love The Stand, I read it when I was a kid, it was one of my favorite books when I was growing up, I love Stephen King, I think he’s a remarkable writer. And coming out of Potter, you wanna work with an author who has the same reach as a Jo Rowling, and frankly Stephen King does. My issues though were about the adaptation. I wanted to work with Steve Kloves, Steve Kloves wanted to work with me, we were both committed to doing it, but in that time it took to let go of Potter and to think about how we would tackle the adaptation, we both decided that it wasn’t for us, so we left it. We sort of withdrew basically.”

the-stand-book-coverSpecifically, the issue that Yates and Kloves ran into was trying to find the big set pieces in the source material that would make the film the event tentpole that Warner Bros. wants:

“What I love about King’s work and what I love about The Stand is the fact that Stephen King really puts you into these people’s lives, and you see the world from a very intimate human level, which normally is something I love. But we felt this pressure to make these super tentpole movies with this material, and the things that you get in Potter—which are these extraordinary episodes of action—they didn’t exist in the material, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of movie that ultimately the studio was hoping to get from this material. I could see making a miniseries from it, a really interesting, intricate, layered, enjoyable long-burn of a miniseries, I could see that, but what was missing for me were the big movie moments in the material, the big set pieces.”

Yates also felt daunted by the task of tackling yet another big-budget event film right after Potter, as he said he wants to do something small in order to reset. However, he had nothing but nice things to say about Affleck, whom he calls a “smashing director” and believes will do a “fantastic job.”

One of the projects that Yates has been developing for a few years now is a biopic of Al Capone. While that won’t be his next film (and likely won’t happen for a couple of years), it’s still something that wants to do and is very much still on the table:

“That’s still something I’m very passionate about. It’s with a wonderful producer called John Lesher. He’s really amazing and inspiring. I’m still very committed to that. It won’t happen next year or the year after, it’s a slow burn. It’s quite a big—cause that’s such a mythic character in American history, and I want to do it in a way that’s surprising and interesting. And the writer Walon Green is a really wonderful writer, he’s a really lovely old-school writer…There’s some great action set pieces, there’s also a really compelling character. He was amazing, he was very, very young when he built his empire. I love the notion of making a film about a bad man who’s trying to be a good father and a good husband, and he’s just a very compelling character. So yeah, Capone is still very much on the table.”

harry-potter-deathly-hallows-part-2-final-poster-01It’s refreshing to see a director who’s so passionate about character and story, even if it means turning down a massive franchise. I very much look forward to whatever else Yates has up his sleeve in the coming years. For now, you can watch the entire video interview below the time index.

  • :07 – What’s he been doing the past few months? Says he’s been working on letting go of the franchise, going on vacations and just chilling out.
  • :46 – His impressions of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. He says it’s odd to see people walking around on his sets.
  • 2:40 – When people approach him on the street, what’s the thing they always want to talk about? Says people are generally just sweet and talk about how much they love the movies. Talks about being able to be more anonymous than the actors from the films.
  • 4:01 – His reaction to Warner Bros. pulling the DVDs and Blu-rays from shelves after the end of the year. Says it’s obviously done for commercial reasons, as they’re expecting a huge rush to buy the DVDs.
  • 5:03 – Has there been any talk about post-converting the older films to 3D? Says not yet, but he expects the studio to eventually re-release the films in theaters: “I think that’ll come, I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. It would probably be wise to wait a wee while, to let the technology and the conversion process get better. To let the viewing experience of 3D get better, and that will come in 3, 4, 5 years time I’m sure. We spent a lot of effort on Part 2 to get it looking as beautiful as possible. I think it would be quite exciting to do that to the other films, but I think timing is everything and I think there are still lots of issues with 3D. The quality of the conversions needs to be better and the viewing experience needs to be better, generally I would say. Again, Warners will do what they’re gonna do, but I would say it’s probably best to wait.”
  • 6:45 – Would he want to spend as much time on the post-conversion as James Cameron did on Titanic 3D? Says they spent a lot of time on Part 2 and if they do it on the other films he wants to do it properly.
  • harry-potter-deathly-hallows-part-2-poster-voldemort-ralph-fiennes-017:36 – Does he still plan on making a smaller movie in 2012? Says yes, but he hasn’t settled on which project yet: “It’s a few different things, and I have to make a commitment quite soon. But I’ve had some time off to really think about that commitment, and I’ve been sort of holding these two or three things and trying to figure out which one to go with, and I didn’t wanna make that choice while I was still adrenalized and tired from finishing off four movies back-to-back…I’d love to make something right about the spring/summer next year, that’s the plan, and it’s gonna be one of these three or four things.”
  • 8:36 – Talks about leaving the adaptation of The Stand: “I was offered The Stand. I love The Stand, I read it when I was a kid, it was one of my favorite books when I was growing up, I love Stephen King, I think he’s a remarkable writer. And coming out of Potter, you wanna work with an author who has the same reach as a Jo Rowling, and frankly Stephen King does. My issues though were about the adaptation. I wanted to work with Steve Kloves, Steve Kloves wanted to work with me, we were both committed to doing it, but in that time it took to let go of Potter and to think about how we would tackle the adaptation, we both decided that it wasn’t for us, so we left it. We sort of withdrew basically. And they’ve offered it to Ben Affleck who’s a really smashing director and he’ll do a really fantastic job. The studio wanted to turn it into a couple of movies back-to-back. What I love about King’s work and what I love about The Stand is the fact that Stephen King really puts you into these people’s lives, and you see the world from a very intimate human level, which normally is something I love. But we felt this pressure to make these super tentpole movies with this material, and the things that you get in Potter—which are these extraordinary episodes of action—they didn’t exist in the material, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of movie that ultimately the studio was hoping to get from this material. I could see making a miniseries from it, a really interesting, intricate, layered, enjoyable long-burn of a miniseries, I could see that, but what was missing for me were the big movie moments in the material, the big set pieces. And also there was a pressure to try and bring it next, to try and bring it up, and I wanna make something really small, so I withdrew, Steve withdrew, and then they needed another director so they’ll go with Ben. He’ll be great, and you know he’ll have a fresh pair of eyes. He’s a really clever director.”
  • 11:03 – Talks about his Al Capone movie: “That’s still something I’m very passionate about. It’s with a wonderful producer called John Lesher. He’s really amazing and inspiring. I’m still very committed to that. It won’t happen next year or the year after, it’s a slow burn. It’s quite a big—cause that’s such a mythic character in American history, and I want to do it in a way that’s surprising and interesting. And the writer Walon Green is a really wonderful writer, he’s a really lovely old-school writer…There’s some great action set pieces, there’s also a really compelling character. He was amazing, he was very, very young when he built his empire. I love the notion of making a film about a bad man who’s trying to be a good father and a good husband, and he’s just a very compelling character. So yeah, Capone is still very much on the table.”
  • 12:37 – Would he be interested in working in television, with the compelling series and miniseries that are currently on cable TV? Says it’s all about the material.
  • 13:42 – Does he still have footage or deleted scenes that he’s holding on to that isn’t on the DVD release? Says generally stuff that’s in the vault is in there for a reason, but in ten years time he might feel differently about the material and it could be released.

 

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