Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Well, at least one of our readers made it to the Regal Cinemas presentation where M. Night Shyamalan spoke live via satellite to 41 theaters around the country, and took the time to write up a report about it. There were about ten minutes out of the full three hours of THE BURIED SECRET OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN where it felt like he was being genuine, and in those ten minutes, he came across as a very likeable guy. Perhaps seeing him in this setting gave an audience a more personal look at him. Let’s see what our reader thought...
Hola Harry and Company!
I attended the In Directors Chair interview of M. Night that was broadcast live over satellite to 41 regal cinemas around the country last night. I was part of the Las Vegas group that only had 5 or 6 people besides myself in the audience. There is no fucking film culture in Sin City! Anyhow the interview itself was very cool and M. Night is an awesome and engaging interviewee. I think the biggest detriment to the whole affair was Joel Sigel (the interviewer and MC) acting like a bumbling idiot interrupting M. Night by making stupid jokes left and right and even at one point mistaking M. Night for the gentleman in the jewelry store scene of Sixth Sense, to which M. Night replied "It's ok Joel, all us Indians look alike." The crowd oooo'd over that one and left Joel as red as an apple. You could tell as the interview progressed M. Night was getting annoyed by Joel's inappropriate interjections and started to face the audience when answering questions, basically taking over the whole thing as only he could.
Here's a quick rundown of the questions and M. Night's answers, abridged of course: How he got started? He made two complete turds of movies with Praying with Anger and Wide Awake trying to be art house before attempting to do something mainstream that still contained his sensibilities. Thus Sixth Sense was born. Originally started out as a story of a crime photographer that finds symbols in his son's drawings that appear on the victims of a serial killer. Felt it was too typical of a serial killer story and it kept coming out like Silence of the Lambs. That's when he developed the story further into the family drama we now know. Finished the final draft on a Friday, put it up for sale the following Monday and demanded no less than 1 million dollars. Said if they offered him $900,000 he still would not to do it. His previous failures had numbed him to being afraid of getting rejected. Within an hour of it being up for sale it was already at the 2 million dollar mark.
His motivation: He doesn't like to be comfortable. Anything and everything he is afraid of doing he attacks it head on. Such is the case with Unbreakable where he knew it would be challenging for fans of Sixth Sense ,but did it anyway. The film now has developed a huge cult following. His main star for The Village was cast after he saw her in a Broadway play. He loved her perfromance so much that he signed her on without having her audition for the role. This is a woman with no film experience whatsoever, but he felt she was right for the part.
Why he acts in his movies: He believes that in order to be a great filmmaker you need to understand all facets of filmmaking. Each movie was a step for him. Starting with directing, then writing, then acting, and now sound design which he paid extra attention to in The Village. He talked about how they finalizing the mix of a scene in The Village and felt it wasn't working anymore. Despite everyone calling him crazy he had them strip the sounds apart, sound by sound. He discovered that the foley work they did for a particular character had her footstep be aggressive rather then gentle which is what the scene was aiming for. He said that one element changed the whole delivery of the line.
How he writes: Staying original was his main answer. Anything that even has a whiff of a scene from another movie is tossed right out. Said that he was going to shelve Sixth Sense after he heard that they were making Casper! Also he has a certain gift for telling intimate stories. He said that if he had directed Troy it just would have had two guys fighting on one side of the wall while the sounds of 5,000 army guys could be heard on the other side, but not seen. Mentioned that when he was attempting to write Indy 4 for Spielberg that he kept having too introspective of an angle on the theme of heroism and what it meant. Spielberg said if you want to continue you can, but Night was getting busy with Signs.
Other films he is working on: Briefly mentioned he was on the fence about signing on to adapting Life of Pi. Also said he was given the chance to adapt Wuthering Heights, but upon reading it fell in love with the era it was in which lead to him writing The Village, making it a period piece.
At the very end he was asked if there was a question he would ask to himself: He was concerned about the bigger he gets the less connected he will be with his audience. Since he will not be forced to be a part of the regular joe's daily struggles then his stories will be distanced from this audience he is vying for. He likened it to a rockstar who gets so big that they are no longer able to connect with their audience who loved him for being like one of them and being able to write songs they could relate to. He also had a great line about how being a failure is the same as being a great success. The false engines of motivation are no longer there, you are empty either way.
All in all M. Night was a very invigorating person to listen to, especially if you're a brudgeoning filmmaker like myself. This interview totally cast him in a different light then that Sci-Fi debacle last Sunday. Totally bright, funny (kept using "and he killed it!"), and enlightening. A very likable guy. Anyhow there you go. Hey if you get a chance I would love for you to check out my short film trailer at truecaliber.com for Dwelling. It's playing at next month's Rhode Island International Film Festival. If not if you could just include this small blurb about my film if you decide to post this up. Thanks and can't wait for The Village!
Call me Tru Cal!
Thanks for the report, Tru Cal, and it’s interesting to hear that Shyamalan hasn’t made his mind up about THE LIFE OF PI yet. I actually hope he doesn’t make the film, because the novel (while beautifully written) once again relies on a twist ending, and it would be far more interesting to see Shyamalan move past that particular gimmick and stretch other muscles as an artist. Overall, sounds like you had a great time.