Before David Yates was officially chosen to direct the film, many others had been offered the job, and previous directors had expressed an interest in returning. Alfonso Cuarón, the director of the third film, stated he "would love to have the opportunity" to return. Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell declined a spot to direct the fifth film, and was not approached for this one. Terry Gilliam was Rowling's personal choice to direct Philosopher's Stone. However, when asked whether he would consider directing a later film, Gilliam said, "Warner Bros. had their chance the first time around, and they blew it."
Yates has retained composer Nicholas Hooper, costume designer Jany Temime, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, creature and make-up effects designer Nick Dudman, and special effects supervisor John Richardson from the fifth film. Since February 2007, Stuart Craig, the production designer of the first five films as well, has been designing sets, including the cave, and the astronomy tower, where the climax of the film takes place. Academy Award nominated Bruno Delbonnel is the film's cinematographer.
Yates and Heyman have noted that some of the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows may influence the script of the film, and that there will not be as many memories in the film as in the book. Yates noted: "We're making a decision right now to compress those a wee bit, but we've still got some really cool ones." Steve Kloves, who wrote the first four films, returned for the sixth adaptation. Rowling has read Kloves' script and crossed out a passage in which Dumbledore recalls a past female love, penning in the margin "Dumbledore is gay."
Filming began on September 24, 2007; with one week of rehearsals, and principal photography ended in May 2008. Before filming commenced, there was belief that filming may move from the UK, where all of the previous five films have been shot. This is North Scotland reported filming will take place in New Zealand, due to the "more agreeable economy and climate" and lack of Scottish funding. The Sunday Business Post in Ireland noted that the film's producers and WB executives had been scouting there, specifically Leinster and Munster because they "believe they have now exhausted possible locations in Britain." They are "particularly keen on Ireland, as the landscape is similar to Britain and will appear similar to the settings of the previous films." The crew also scouted around Cape Wrath in Scotland, for use in the cave scene. Filming is scheduled to return to Glen Coe and Glenfinnan, both locations that have appeared in the previous films, to preserve the continuity of the landscape.
On the weekend of 6 October 2007, the crew shot scenes involving the Hogwarts Express in the misty and dewy environment of Fort William, Scotland. A series of night scenes have been filmed in the village of Lacock and the cloisters at Lacock Abbey for three nights starting 25 October 2007. Filming took place from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, and residents of the street were asked to black out their windows with dark blinds. On set reports indicated that the main scene filmed was Harry and Dumbledore's visit to Slughorn's house. Further filming took place in Surbiton railway station in October 2007, Gloucester Cathedral, where the first and second films were shot, in February 2008, and at the Millennium Bridge in London in March 2008.
Though Radcliffe, Gambon and Broadbent started shooting in late September 2007, some other cast members started much later: Watson did not begin until December 2007, Rickman until January 2008, and Bonham Carter until February 2008. Principal photography wrapped up on 17 May 2008.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Jim Broadbent as Horce Slughorn
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbotton
Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks
Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Mark Williams and Julie Walters