'Epic fantasy finale'

Short of author J.K. Rowling, no one has spent more time presenting the tales of "Harry Potter" than David Yates, director of the last four movies in the epic film series.

"I've been working on the movies for five or six years now. I can't really remember," says Yates in a telephone interview from London. It's a rather hectic time Yates, who is in the middle of furor for the world premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" and editing the second part to be released in July.

What Yates has done through the years is create contrasts, whether it be in the growth of characters or the way the films have been shot.

One great contrast apparent with "Part 1" was Yates getting out into the real world to film. He and his crew spent months inside soundstages bringing "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to the screen.

The latest "Potter" puts the three's central heroes — Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) — on the run from the evil forces who've taken over the magical world.

"It was incredibly liberating for me and the crew to be able to shoot in London and across the countryside," says Yates. "There's the scene where the three of them are on the beach and the tide is coming in. Daniel is freezing but we just keep rolling because we were able to capture an energy and a moment that would have been impossible to get on a soundstage."

Yates loved the contrasts that came from taking the three iconic characters — who had spent almost all their time in magical worlds — and dropping them in the gritty reality of downtown London. He thinks the jeux de position gives the film a huge creative punch.

And then Yates fills the new movie with quiet moments, such as a dance sequence he calls "a very delicate and tender moment."

Whether on a soundstage or location, Yates has created a very distinct look for the "Potter" films using light and dark as a metaphor for the changes going on in the life of the young magician.

He wanted the lighting to reflect the anger, fear, joy and confusion Harry has had to deal with through this long film journey.

More contrasts are coming. Yates says there's a dramatic difference between the two halves of the finale. He's designed the first half of the "Deathly Hallows" to be an edgy road film accented with a love story. Audiences will have to fasten their seatbelts for "Part 2."

"The second film is going to be this huge operatic tale full of big battles and dragons," Yates says. "It will be this epic fantasy finale."

The final scene at the end of "Part 1" is, Yates says, a small sampling of what to expect with the second movie.

Once the last "Harry Potter" film has been released, Yates will begin his search for a new project. While he would like the creative contrast of making a smaller film, he knows he would be crazy not to seek out more big-film projects such as "Harry Potter" to use what he has learned over the past five or six years.

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