JOEL SIEGEL: Is that the first kiss in an M. Night Shyamalan?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, that's about as sexy as it gets in my movies. (LAUGHS) I got Indian parents to watch out for. (LAUGHTER) Bry-, Bryce I here, guys can you move the camera and say hi to Bryce Howard, stand up please.
JOEL SIEGEL: Tell us about her, how, how did you find her?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, 'cause I saw her in this play, she's just this kind of um, she's you know, it's hard to tell you how much she means, it's a big, it's a big deal, it's kind of um, you know you're doing things right because you run, run into certain things in your life and this is one of those things you know, she's like uh, a gift from god.
JOEL SIEGEL: She'd been at NYU?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, she went to NYU as I did, met her and uh-.
JOEL SIEGEL: As did most of the people in this audience said, so there's-.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: No, no, she's a, you know, it was one of those things I gave Roman Holiday the DVD to the crew because uh, this is what's happening with this movie is you know, Audrey Hepburn was seen in play and put in that movie and became Audrey Hepburn. And this is, this is our, our generation's Audrey Hepburn.
JOEL SIEGEL: And Gregory Peck insisted that-.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Her name be up there.
JOEL SIEGEL: Her name be up, yeah, yeah. You do the same.
JOEL SIEGEL: I haven't seen the film, is there a scene in The Village where Joaquin Phoenix sticks his hand in the wall and he can't get his, no, that's not (LAUGHS).
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I forgot I was like, what are you talking about, there's a scene in Roman Holiday, where, (LAUGHS).
JOEL SIEGEL: It's a movie joke. (LAUGHS)
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: The director's like ahhh!
JOEL SIEGEL: Once again in that scene you did something that directors are not supposed to do, the two principals, the two characters, their backs are to the camera. The entire scene, that's like a 3 minute scene.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, it's, it's a long scene, it's like 4 minutes right? Or something, and, and I remember drawing the story board that took about 8 seconds, --.
JOEL SIEGEL: (LAUGHS) Maybe that's why you have so few cuts in your films, you don't like to draw storyboard, I mean that's uh (LAUGHS).
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I do these like faces in the corners and I was like, I do all this space in the middle, and I was like, we're gonna get killed we're gonna get killed when we got TV, but it would just be black in the middle. (LAUGHTER) Where are these voices coming from?
JOEL SIEGEL: Why di-, why did you do that?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: It's just such a delicate romantic scene you want the actors to just do it, you know, and I thought you know, the reserve of seeing them in 3/4 profile is such restraint you know, you get you know, you don't wanna-, if you're gonna write emotional a dialogue that you know, to give, give opportunity for people to gently get into it themselves and so it just kind of tempers it a little bit. I remember in to, To Kill a Mocking Bird, there's that beautiful speech he gives on the porch and he's in 3/4 profile and I was like scribbling notes going, this is powerful shit. (LAUGHS)
JOEL SIEGEL: You can't say that word, either.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Oh, I'm sorry. (LAUGHTER) And so, it was, it was that kind of decision, I was never gonna go on this side of them and show their faces, or you know, and you know, to, to not cut and see that, that, the real moment. What happened was, we did that, that scene I think 8 or 9 times, and that was the take, that was THE take, you know, like you know, one of them did it and then the other one did it, and then they both did it you know, kind of thing. And that was it and then we had um, a focus problem with that scene. And so it was kind of tragedy when I got to the thing. I, I printed, I printed that and a back up take and um, got the dailies and it was out of focus, she was out of focus because he had leaned forward and it's so delicate a scene that the, he whacked with-.
JOEL SIEGEL: It was very low light, was that the-?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, yeah. And he racked to Joaq, 'cause Joaq was talking, and Roger Deakins, the cinematographer, lit here and so she's, you're watching someone who's completely out of focus and I was like, oh! And we went back to try to shoot it again and we just couldn't, couldn't get it, it was one of those, it's magic, you know. It, it just happened, it was magic and um, so ILM came in.
JOEL SIEGEL: Industrial Light and Magic.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Industrial Light and Magic and had a new technique and, and refocused her.
JOEL SIEGEL: Wow.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, it was, I couldn't believe it, I was like yeah right. (LAUGHTER) Technology, please. I was like it's all over we're gonna have to use the back up take. So we had the back up take in for many, many, for a long time, many, many cuts and then ILM came and showed me at my house, they showed me you know, the take, and they had done too good a job, it looked to crystal clear. I literally went, too, and I said, 'Can you make it worse?' And they said, 'Yeah, we can make it worse.' And we went back, but she war more focused than Joaq, it was, it was strange but you know, that was one I hate, technology saved me, saved us.
JOEL SIEGEL: Your films uh, just before Signs, I think it, you were on the cover of Newsweek Magazine?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah.
JOEL SIEGEL: The new Spielberg, the new Steven Spielberg.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, that really made me uh, really good spirits with all the critics. They had the magazine, 'ah-hah!, we'll see about that.' (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: Well I have to contest, what I said was, I think it was that morning on Good Morning America, when the Mel Gibson Interview ran and I said, I just had to seam a joke, the old Steven Spielberg waking up in Malibu, looking for the magazine, cover of the magazine, gosh, I must have, I must have passed away during the night. (LAUGHTER)
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I called him, first, first thing was that they had actually had 'the next Hitchcock' on there and then the writer said, 'are you gonna, are you trying to kill him? Don't, don't do that. Don't do that.'
JOEL SIEGEL: Because the writer, the person who interviewed you, they don't write the cover lines, it was-.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Right no, he just signs it, don't do that to him, and that would've really been ridiculous. So they, they took it off and then they put Spielberg and then they faxed it to my house and I was, 'Oh no.' And then I called him and I said, 'Dude I didn't do this, I swear I didn't say anything like. I didn't do anything, I didn't insinuate it.' He's like, 'It's Ok, it's Ok.'
JOEL SIEGEL: Now one of the things that you do have in common with Hitchcock is that you are in your film.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Sometimes.
JOEL SIEGEL: Sometimes, and I was sitting and watching, it's in Sixth Sense and there's a little scene in the jewelry store, is that in Sixth Sense.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: No, I'm in the, I'm the doctor there, that's another Indian but we all look alike. (LAUGHTER) No, a lot people mix things up like that 'cause it's tight, it's tight.
JOEL SIEGEL: You were the doctor in Sixth Sense.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I was the doctor, I was the doctor.
JOEL SIEGEL: You drove the car in Signs, you drove the truck.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yes, yes. They spoofed me in that Scary Movie 3, did you guys see that? (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: Yes. Is there a reason that you did this, is it just fun, is it, what are you doing, is it to take your mind off what you're doing or uh?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: No, no, there's a lot of important things, one is you know, I mean the first movie I did, I was, I acted in it, you know. And-.
JOEL SIEGEL: This film shot in India.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: It was shot in India, so I mean it's, it's something that I, and when I was a kid all the films I did I was in you know. It just, it just feels for me that's part of the story telling process to learn all those things, but um, when things went badly you know, I wasn't in Wide Awake, you know, I just kind of said, you know, I have to rebuild one at a time, because they basically said, 'you can't do anything.' So, then I was like, 'All right I'm gonna become a really stronger.' So then I became a writer, 'All right, well you know, you're not as good a director,' you know, that was kind of the way I was in Wide Awake and then you work on that, and then you work on the producing and you get everybody coming little by little kind of working your way in. I mean I think it's uh, they make, it makes it more personal for me, it also scares me to death, you know.
JOEL SIEGEL: Oh, really?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah. I mean anything that makes you feel vulnerable is exactly what you should do, I mean is exactly, I mean-, I don't want to feel safe, and um, you know, I want to give the critics all the opportunity to aim a gun you know, I really do because you, you can't, to given this opportunity you know, you, you don't want to be um, timid, you want to have courage. My little girl said, 'what's courage?' and my older girl said, 'It's not being afraid.' And I said, 'No that's not true, it's being afraid and doing it anyway, that is courage.'
JOEL SIEGEL: Very good.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: And so, you know, I want to have courage and that means you know, I had an opportunity in Village, I said, you know what, let's just hire the, the best actress in the world for this role, it happens to be an unknown young lady, so, and, and a lead that, a movie with a female lead, first of all, a period piece, second of all unknown lead, third of all, yeah, let's make it summer blockbuster, no problem, no problem. (LAUGHTER) So, yeah, and like everybody you know, they had this big article about you know, is it gonna be Spiderman, Harry Potter, Shrek and The Village as the big movies of the year and I was like, 'Oh, my god.' (LAUGHS)
JOEL SIEGEL: Do you sleep?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, I'm trying to, I'm not very good at, I'm, I'm, I'd say I'd give my, I give myself a B minus on enjoying this life. I'm working on it, um, I really should you know, it's all so good, I mean, what can you do? You know, but I do feel, feel kind of a fierce obligation to, to do things as, at the, at the best, don't disappoint anybody, I feel like, you know, in extent my family you know, Philadelphia, 4 million people in Philadelphia, (LAUGHTER) 1 billion people in India, there's a lot of people I don't want to disappoint. That's a lot, that's 1 billion, 4 million people. (LAUGHTER) That's a lot of people.
JOEL SIEGEL: That's a lot of people.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: So I feel a lot of pressure, you know, and also you know, the naysayers you know, that can, have, you know, you feel like always, everyone is always clinging onto you to pull you down and say 'you can't do that, you can't,' you know, 'you're not as good as they say.' You know, I remember, I was telling you in a New York Times article that editorial about why were people were infatuated with me was some like psudo spiritual thing. You know, just explanations, why, why, why are they fascinated, why are they coming out? And I just want to you know, make sure that you know, you know, that I don't, I don't do things out of anger or resentment, or because I'm scared or anything like that, just you know, inspiration, you know, a fierce obligation to be inspired and as long as it burns, you know.
JOEL SIEGEL: Well one of things, the running theme through, through your work and it's gotta be through you life, too is that your movies are not about scaring people and they're not about fear, your movies are about innocence, they really are. I mean, there are little, they're kids in all of your films, and there's a reason for that.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, I mean, I use the violence at instances where very dark things to kind of test your faith, to, to show you, you know, that's when somebody becomes, um, believes, when they have to, to believe again. You know, and so to use these kind of very bad situations for that reason.
JOEL SIEGEL: We are going to go coast to coast.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Wow.
JOEL SIEGEL: Yeah. Are we ready for our live, our live Q&A? Where, where do we go first?
TOM LEW: Hello?
JOEL SIEGEL: We hear something.
TOM LEW: Hi, uh, this is uh, Tom Lew-.
JOEL SIEGEL: Hi Tom.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hey man, how are you?
TOM LEW: I'm great, how are you?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Good. (LAUGHTER)
TOM LEW: That-, that's not my question, by the way.
JOEL SIEGEL: Speaking of faith, it's the voice of, Tom Leupp.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: What did you say, Tom?
TOM LEW: Um, well my question for you was uh, what is your screenwriting process, do you isolate yourself for days on end, and write them in one shot, or, and do you prefer to work only during a certain time of day and how much research do you do? And the second part is do you seek a lot of feedback during that process?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, no, because I'm very-, I'm gonna answer them backwards. No, because I'm very week and, and uh, and I, I can be moved around very quick, 'oh, that's not a very good idea.' 'You're right, that's a terrible idea, I won't do that.' 'This thing about the guy being dead at the end.' 'Oh, you're right, I won't do that.' (LAUGHTER) You know, they just even went, like their eyebrow went up, I'd be like oh, they're so right, this is terrible. I'm very weak and nervous that way. Um, so I really, I don't, I don't, I don't show anybody the thing until it's practically done, until it's just virtually done where I can feel confident that, I, I really have it, and no matter what the eyebrow does, the guy does, I know I have something. But, the um, the screenwriting process is very different each time but it's um, on The Village, which was the, the longest one and the hardest one because of the period nature of it, um, it, it, it was, I just kept writing notes, notes, notes, notes, notes in this book this idea, 'how about she's like this? How about him like this? What about this for the creature? This and that,' you know. And it just filled up books, you know, like pages, pages, pages. And it would, it started to become a procrastinating tool which is very easy to happen with writing and I, the list just, it was so big that when I started to writing and I had a problem putting it together it just, it was too many things to put in one, in a cohesive story. Um, so I probably wouldn't let myself go that far with the note process anymore. Um, then I write an outline and then I write the dr-, the fir-, the draft and if I'm really in a bad emotional state, let's say for example: The Village bombs. (LAUGHTER) and I'm in a bad emotional state um, it, the, the first draft, I force myself to write that first draft and call it a 'vomit pass' just so I won't be precious about it.
JOEL SIEGEL: A vomit pass?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, I call it a vomit pass, just get it, get it out. Um, I try, I try not for it to be a vomit pass but if it, if that's the case, I just gotta get it out. Um, because you don't want to get precious and then it's not daunting if you have 120 pages in front of you. And even if they all suck, you still have 120 pages and it's something to put something against and um, you know, it's, it's a hard process but I really like uh, like right now you know, I just came, I'm just at the end of the, not the end, the middle of the promotion process I've done in the last 36 hours-. In probably in the last 3 days of work, probably 200, 250 interviews. So 250 interviews is, I mean brain numbing. (LAUGHTER) And you know, where do you get your ideas? And you know, 'are you really weird in person?' And you know, it's just, you just don't want to talk to any human being again. And when you're done directing you don't want to make a decision about any-, you don't want to make a decision about fries on the side or medium rare. (LAUGHTER) You don't want to make a single decision. So, it's really fun to go back to writing which is a totally different art form than it's uh, it's kind of uh, a, reprise for me from all this kind of physical activity with other people, I can go be a hermit for a little bit.
JOEL SIEGEL: Isn't it lonely, though, do you find, is it lonely, writing is a lonely-, it's alone but is it lonely?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Well you get, when you get nervous I go like, you know what I'm just gonna call someone and say you know, 'what if this,' and I put down the phone, 'cause just in the moment you do that, even if they had the right answer, it's a slippery slope, you know, you want to fight those daemons. Each time you go down to write, like when I go back to write now-.
JOEL SIEGEL: You mean go down, literally do you still write in the basement?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: No, now I, now I have a little bit nicer place. (LAUGHTER) But oh, but when I go to write there um, there will be custom made daemons waiting for me. Customer made that will just be waiting there, waiting to, to, to knock me down, so I'm really looking forward to that.
TOM LEW: Ok.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Thanks, Tom.
JOEL SIEGEL: Thank you, Tom.
TOM LEW: Thank you.
JOEL SIEGEL: Uh, Jeff Otto in Los Angeles.
JEFF OTTO: Hi Night.
JOEL SIEGEL: Hi Jeff.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hey, Jeff.
JEFF OTTO: Uh, question, uh, where do the ideas for your films come from (LAUGHTER) and do you look to other stories or past movies to get gather ideas when writing? (LAUGHS)
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Sorry Jeff, I didn't hear you what did you say?
JEFF OTTO: Sorry. You got me now?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Where do the ideas for your films come from? Do you look to other stories or past movies to gather ideas when writing your movies?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Do I link past ideas in movies? Yeah, um, OK, um.
JEFF OTTO: And do you, do you look to other stories in movies?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: In, in other movies?
JEFF OTTO: Do you look to other stories in movies when you're uh, writing, in the writing process?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: You mean like uh, just to get inspiration or something?
JEFF OTTO: Yeah.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, well I try not to because you know, everyone you know, I keep getting asked like today, today was foreign press so they had all the countries in the world, all their journalists and all come. And they're saying, 'What do you want your name to mean in the future?' And I said, you know, 'originality, that's what I want it to mean.' Originality-, not scared or anything, just that you're coming, you don't know what you're gonna come see. Um, and that, so it, it actually you know, if I saw a movie that I, that actually was in the genre of something that I liked, led probably get discouraged and not write it. I remember-, swear to god, I remember I had this Sixth Sense idea years before and I put it away 'cause I heard they were making Casper. (LAUGHTER) Swear to god, I was like, well there's go that. So I put it, I'm like this, you know, they're already making a ghost movie, so. (LAUGHTER) You know, you could totally kill yourself that way, what a terrible existence so I don't, you know, I don't listen to other movies like that. But the, you know, the ideas are a kind of, you know, right now kind of opening myself up to ideas and so, maybe something will happen here, or like that, this feeling of getting watched from the back, or like, something might affect me and um, uh, it'll, it might come out in something. But a lot of times there'll be like a kernel of an idea, like, like, like The Village was, I had this King Kong idea which was you know, you com across a group of people who are uh, doing their chores and incorporated in their chores are these rituals to keep them safe from creatures and then they go back to doing their chores, it's just very normal. And it made me, it was very, very curious about those people. So I had that, and then um, they offered me Withering Heights with these two amazing actors to, to do, like triple A list actors in both roles and I was, I read the book again, I was like 'this is the greatest book ever!' No to the movie, but I'm gonna write my own period piece. And, and so in a way, I guess in that way, you know, I get inspired by books a lot. You know, if like if I read a book I go, 'wow! This is kick-ass.' And then I go, and then I work on--.
JOEL SIEGEL: So you were inspired by the book Wuthering, not the film Wuthering Heights.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Right, then I went and saw the movie, but it was the book that, that got me, that kind of angst ridden emotion. So I said, you know, I could take that idea-, I said, Wuthering Heights, King Kong, perfect! (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: Uh, Chris Bowyer in Pittsburgh, Chris.
CHRIS BOWYER: Hello, Mr. Shyamalan, um, you generally work with a relatively uh, smaller cast, uh, than you have on The Village.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yep.
CHRIS BOWYER: Was it all challenging uh, to kind of balance the screen time between them? What I mean, between a much broader, more accomplished ensemble cast?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, that's actually was a big, a big concern um, because they were so staggeringly good, these guys, basically there are the best, the best actors in the world in each of their roles, I mean these are some of the best theatre actresses, and even in the smaller roles, you know, for one scene we had like the best theatre actresses in the world in there, there were formidable talents. And um, there was I was seriously concerned about that I was going to have to, as you normally do, cut away, cut away until somebody gets it, and I have to make that call and go, you know, we really cut down your role and um, it, it didn't turn out that way, luckily enough. Luckily enough. I did a couple of spontaneous uh, scenes with uh, Adrian um, kind of impromptu stuff that we did-.
JOEL SIEGEL: Adrian Brody.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Adrien Brody, that didn't, that we didn't end up putting in, but the, as written his was completely in plus or more. So, I got, I got really lucky with the balance of that 'cause that could've easily happened, it's a big, it was a big worry. And it's so funny that I have ensemble cast, 'cause I said I'll never do an ensemble cast, ever! I said you know, we want to, my, my theory before that was you know, one star and you know, surround them by unknown faces so it becomes real. Of course I totally disregarded that, and did the reverse, and unknown face surrounded all these people you know. (LAUGHTER)
CHRIS BOWYER: Thank you very much.
JOEL SIEGEL: Thank you. Rebecca Murray in San Diego. Rebecca.
(HANGS UP) (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: She was going to ask where your ideas come from for movies and she just decided not to.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Rebecca why? We did this so much.
JOEL SIEGEL: Not the first person named Rebecca who's hung up on me, I don't know about you. Rebecca you there?
REBECCA MURRAY: Oh, my gosh, I thought I hung up.
JOEL SIEGEL: Oh, Rebecca you there?
REBECCA MURRAY: No, I didn't hang up.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: What's up Rebecca?
REBECCA MURRAY: Ok, so you missed my whole question.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Oh, what was it?
REBECCA MURRAY: Ok, it was, how close was your original concept of The Village to the final edit, and what major changes occurred between your first draft and your final version?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, just say that one more time, I'm getting some emotional things here, say it, say it again. (LAUGHTER)
REBECCA MURRAY: How close was your original concept of The Village to the final edit, that's the first part.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Ok. I think tonally very different, very different because the, the um, I went back to kind of Unbreakable esthetics. And so there's a very strong visual sense to the movie that changes, changes the tone of the movie, and um, this movie is the, the most delicate movie I've, I, I can't imagine having a more delicate movie. It just would-, it just did not work until everything worked, it just did not work. It was just pieces until everything was perfect, every single thing, you got the pace right so you got the music right, sound effects, it just, it just wouldn't work, I mean I literally thought we were in trouble, it went from like no, no movie, to you have it!, like, in like boom (SNAPS) like that, because it just started, it was, it is so delicate, it, it wouldn't let me do anything to it that it didn't want.
JOEL SIEGEL: Would a good metaphor be like of piece of music, like symphony or like putting a puzzle together, what metaphor would you use?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah I think, I, I, it was delicate even in the final mix, you know, we had this amazing, we had this violinist, it's a violin dominating the score, it's just a beautiful, beautiful score.
JOEL SIEGEL: Who did the score?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: James Newton Howard did the score, but we had this violinist named Hillary Han to play, and Hillary Han is basically, she's 23, is the same age as Bryce, and she's considered you know, one of the top 3 violinist in the world and some consider her the best violinist in the world, and I-, we asked her to do the score, so she came in to be the female voice, continue the female voice, the strong female voice in the movie-, she killed it, it was like, she came in and it was concert, we-, she would just stand up there in front of the orchestra and this little girl you know, she actually has reddish hair, too. And she comes up to the, and she goes (PLAYING NOISES), and everybody just floored. And, and when we had, when we put that onto the movie it was like actor was in the movie suddenly and it, it didn't lay in the way you would think. Because you know, William Hurt would be yelling and then she'd be like (PLAYING NOISES) so it was like 2 people conversing, so you kinda had to ride it in such a way, it was so, it like wasn't working until you, you worked it in like another actor and everything, all the way down to like you know, there was a scene that I was editing, a scene that we were mixing and all of a sudden it wasn't working for me, all of a sudden at the end, after all these months it wasn't working, what happened, what happened? And they're all like, 'You're insane, it's working, it's great, it's great.' And I said, no, something's wrong, something's wrong, and uh, I said, 'take it all apart, take it apart.' And we took it apart and we found out there was a foley, a foley is the sound effects that you do you know, they do, they, these guys in a room they make all the sound effects and so we lay them in and they put in a foot step, her foot step before she did a line, and, and the footstep was aggressive. You know, it was, yeah, strong and it changed her line. And, and, and her line was different because she came at it angrily and then said the line, it was different and she, it was not innocent. And, so I said, 'You gotta soft, she's tentative when she says this.' So they went in the-, and the changed the scene, and it was, it was, that's the kind of movie it was, it just only worked when-. The symphony was working together, everything was working together. And you had a second part to your question?
REBECCA MURRAY: Yeah. The second part was made your changes-, changes occur between your first draft and the final version?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, it was Scott Rudin, the producer, I hired him, this was about not being safe, because I wanted Scott to come in and just challenge the hell out of me.
JOEL SIEGEL: (LAUGHTER) He's known for that.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, he's you know, I never met him, and he did The Hours, which I love. And so I said, you know, I called up and I said-.
JOEL SIEGEL: He also did School of Rock by the way.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, I know, but I hadn't seen that. (LAUGHS)
JOEL SIEGEL: Ahh, oh, you've got to see that, it's great. (LAUGHS)
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: But the reason I, I wanted to it was for al, for The Hours, and um, I called him up and I said, 'Hey can you come on this,' and he was like, 'yeah.' So, you know, he just, he did what he does, 'Why is this here? What's going on here, I don't believe this.' I was like oh, geese, why did I bring you on? (LAUGHTER) And, and that was at end when I thought the script was done, so he really pushed me, and it, it really needed to happen because you know, I couldn't do what I did on Signs which was write the sofa scene in two hours. You can't do it because the dialogue is so specific and I had to go research it, how would she express this? How would they express anger? You know, all this stuff and it, it was a, it was a, you had to learn to speak in a different language, and so um, he, he really kind of pushed me on that, and when you see the movie you'll see there's a whole lot-, a whole lot going on and uh, he really strengthened these other layers going on, I gotta give him a lot of credit, he just kept pushing me to the point I was like, 'it's done, dude. I am done.' (LAUGHTER) 'Let's go.' And so there was, you know, it really changed quite a bit, quite a bit.
JOEL SIEGEL: Rebecca. Thank you Rebecca. Edward Douglas in New York, New York. Where are you in New York, New York, Edward?
EDWARD DOUGLAS: Uh, downtown on uh, 14th street.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Wow.
EDWARD DOUGLAS: Yeah, not that far away.
JOEL SIEGEL: A mile and a half away from Time Square.
EDWARD DOUGLAS: Yeah. So, so how do you decided to make a suspense/horror film set in the past uh, instead of setting in the present like you have your other three films?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Well, it was like this is a kind of, kind of the question I've been asked a lot in the, in the junkets, in these press junkets and all, and, and the really the answer um, was a kind of, I actually have a farm and I live, and I live you know, in uh, that was actually built in this time period and all, so it's kind of a little bit uninspired and mundane that I was in a house that looks like that and looked out saw the woods and went, hmm. That's kind of scary, but um. (LAUGHTER) It was, it was because, I don't know if you heard the stuff about Withering Heights being offered but really, it was Wuthering Heights that kind of got me you know, really high about doing this, this period. And um, I just thought it would be uh, you know, like I love the book The Aliens, and I love you know, kind of things that are set a little back but you know, kind of have the, the scariness and the, and the, and the thrill factor of now, that combination is really exciting for me.
JOEL SIEGEL: Doesn't the distance uh, do something for make, it's, it's different, but doesn't make it in way, easier and more effective because it's like being an outsider and looking. It's like these people looking at us through the window, uh, we are looking back a hundred years.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Right. It, it, it you know, it, the-, it allows, it really, you know, the worst when you're a bad, you know you're a bad writer when everybody in your movie sounds like, sounds like you. (LAUGHTER) That's, that's the sign of a bad writer, everybody talks like you, everybody thinks like you, everybody has the same, same humor, and you know, you're not really writing you know. And so this was a chance to kind of, I wasn't aloud to do that, you know. And it, and it really helped, you know, I don't think I could've written if I hadn't had a lot of experience in writing, you know, I'm glad I did it right now, but it was just a, a really nice, kind of haunting period love story, was what I was going for.
JOEL SIEGEL: Do you think you're do more things set in the past?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I'd, I'd love to, I'd love to. Yeah, I mean. I mean I'm doing, well, I'm thinking about doing Life of Pie, so Life of Pie is not really set, I mean it's you know, uh, a 3 or 4 decades ago.
JOEL SIEGEL: You're thinking, I read that, this was years ago?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I'm doing, I'm doing. We haven't signed on the dotted line, yet.
JOEL SIEGEL: Ok. (LAUGHTER) Angela Kolter in Dallas, Texas.
ANGELA KOLTER: Hi, how are you?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hey, how are ya.
ANGELA KOLTER: Wonderful, really enjoying it. Um, my question is about the music. Uh, how important for you is your collaboration with composer James Newton Howard, and uh, kind of a second partner, I was wondering how did it start?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, it, it's, I think it's the most important collaboration I have, you know, I kind of grew up with Spielberg and John Williams, and they yeah, I just you can't, I don't think you can imagine E.T. without that score, or Star Wars you know, without that score, it just would not be the same movie, not the same experience. And they are, they are clearly collaborators and it was always that kind of, uh, you know, I wish I had that kind of collaborator, I wish, I wish. And lo and behold, you know. We were on Sixth Sense and actually we had a composer on and I had to let him go and then uh, we were, we were lost for a composer and we only had a few weeks left and they showed it, Frank, Frank uh, Marshall showed it to James Newton Howard and he said, 'Hey, I'll do it. I'll do it.' You know, it was like a small little movie, he said, 'I'll do this.' So um, that's how we, we he jumped on Sixth Sense and, and we've kind of been building and now he, I mean the things he does for me are um, he, he's does, he writes themes before the movie's started. He reads the script, he comes to Philly, I talk through everything, he writes themes, 'I say, I want you from the same emotional pool as me, the same one. And I want you do-, you know, from a derivative pool, from the same one. This why I made it, this is love, this is why I made it.' And so he hears my energy he gets inspired, he goes away and writes, writes the music. Like the opening credits of Signs he wrote before I shot I frame of the movie, exactly as it is, in the movie. And then we start feeding off of each other, and I said, 'this is great, this one reminds of her,' and, and that kind of her. And he must have, I mean he rewrites, he writes the score for the movie, I mean if you counted it, if you stretched it out he probably rewrote the, the movie over a 6 or 7 times, I mean that's just not done, you know, where, where he would believe in me enough where I go, 'Dude, that's fantastic, it's just not for this movie, that scene, um you need, I'm, I'm missing this.' And, and you know, when you're doing original stuff especially with The Village, I didn't um, I wasn't sure, and so you know, we had gone this whole other way with the music, whole other way with this, roman mythological music and um, and we came all the way back and we found this. And I called him up once and I said, 'You know, what about a solo instrument.' And then this violin popped up and I was like, 'that's her.' And we found her but that was after a long time of working at it. So we, we're both I mean by the time we finish, we are exhaust-, I mean, I'm sure you guys don't want to hear one more note from me, (LAUGHTER) he's done. That's why we don't really call each other right after the thing, we see each other at the premiere, 'hey.'
JOEL SIEGEL: Now you, I visited the set of The Village, and I'm talking like you know, to the carpenters the guys who work there, these are guys who worked with you on all of your films. So the collaboration is there, not just with the composer but with your whole crew.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah, they were, a lot of the crew members were there when I was you know, on the set of Wide Awake and people getting fired and Miramax was like, 'this kid sucks!' And I was like (SIGHS) (LAUGHTER). And they were like, 'it's Ok.' I remember having this screwdriver, a drink, you know, of vodka and orange juice in the back of the quip truck when I was like one really bad day, it was like, 'come on kid. Let's go.' (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: How old were you?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I was 24. (LAUGHTER) And they were like giving me, giving me screw driver, I was like this is great guys. (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: Jarrod Dillon in San Francisco, California.
JARED DILLON: Uh, good evening, Mr. Shyamalan.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Night, Night's fine, god! (LAUGHTER) It's cool.
JARED DILLON: Uh, taking into the account uh, the increasing popularity of your movies after uh, every release, uh, do you feel a lot of pressure to match or surpass the quality of your uh, previous film?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, yeah, I mean you can't, you can-. You know, I've been trying to think of it, I've been, when I get really anxious I start thinking about it in um, terms of paintings you know, that if I'm a painter, you know, just, you paint your painting and you put up on the wall with the next of them. You know, you don't go, what do you guys, think? You know, should I not use, use this, this color and should I you know, use a little bit bigger brush, or something. And if you can think of it like you know, get inspired and you do it, you know, now that, now that you know, the craft has caught up a little bit to the inspiration, you know. That takes a long time for the craft to catch up, but you know, that you know, I, I don't, and I was telling the press, you know, like they're like, 'Why don't, you know, would they be expecting this or that.' Or you know, 'Do you feel pressure,' and all this stuff, and I said, 'if I even thought about those things, I would be making movies for this 6 week period, this period, like 3 weeks before the movie comes out and 3 weeks after. That, I'm not making movies for that 6 week period, I'm making movies for 10 years from now. I want The Village to be the movie that you pick up and you go, that's a great movie, man, of that year.' And that requires a lot discipline and a lot of being able to weather kind of something immediate things that happened to you, it didn't surprise me at all that Signs opened to what it did after Unbreakable. Unbreakable did exactly that, which was the combination of Unbreakable and Sixth Sense, really provocative filmmaker and you guys were not gonna miss the next one, even though Unbreakable may have landed the third as much as Sixth Sense, and everyone said, 'What happened.' What happened was you know, you got your reap to rewards at the beginning of, of Signs on opening weekend, that made total sense to me, at least made sense in my, in my wor-, my mind and my world about how people react. They react you know, it's Bob Dylan, baby, you want to be Bob Dylan. (LAUGHTER) You want to walk your walk and you know, you don't have to have a pretty voice, nothing, just walk.
JOEL SIEGEL: But Hollywood doesn't, but Hollywood doesn't work that way, Hollywood is, there's-, the only word they know is bigger.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I live in Philly, man. (LAUGHTER)
JOEL SIEGEL: Speaking of Philly, Monique Bhalla from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hello?
MONIQUE BHALLA: Hi. (LAUGHTER) How are you, old friend?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: How's it going? I know her.
JOEL SIEGEL: Oh.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I know everyone in Philly, you see. They can't find someone I don't know. (LAUGHTER)
MONIQUE BHALLA: True, it's true. I have a 2 part question for you. Besides Alfred Hitchcock's influence on your movies, what has influenced you to pay so much attention to sound design and sound editing and how do you go about accomplishing this remarkable.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Sure sounds like you're reading, Monique. (LAUGHTER)
MONIQUE BHALLA: I am not.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: That doesn't sound very spontaneous to me. (LAUGHTER) Um, Monique used to pull my ear when we were kids and, um. (LAUGHTER) Uh, sound design is my special effects that, that this was the movie-, you know, I am always upset at the end of my movies that I didn't get to what I wanted to do with sound. Just, and I've had the greatest sound guys on my movies, I just don't have the time and the resource to get to go do what I really want to do. This is the first one and I, I got to go do what I wanted to do. It took us unbelievable amounts of time. I have at my um, at my house we have basically like um, a mix facility at the house of the uh, a Skywalker Sound did this and they kept coming down and showing me stuff and doing stuff and um, I'd say yes or no. And, and it was really frustrating-, it's really hard. I mean, everybody was really challenged on the movie but you know, when we finished, and it took about twice as long as Signs to do the sound mix, um, it, it, it's kind of-, you know, it's a character, you know, it's a really, it's a big, big deal, it's a special effects throughout the whole movie 'cause they play, sometimes it plays the score for me, so I don't have to put in score. Um, you know, if I raise or lower the background noise, like this hum you're hearing from this, I could take that down just when you're about to say the right line, and take out all air. Or I could raise the noises from the outside and then slowly it becomes echoy. And you, you don't even, I mean these are subtle, it's not-, and you barley can notice it, but it creates a score effect on what you're doing. Um, it's, it's a big deal. Um, in Sixth Sense I tried to do this really elaborate thing which we couldn't do which was use a human breaths for all the background tones in the movie. So, (breaths), like people, I had people do that for the whole movie, and that's what in the background, not normal air. Um, who gets that? I don't know. (LAUGHTER) But, but, it you know, it starts a process of thinking that's very, very important. But the sound in this movie um, the lead character is, is blind and so-.
INTERVIEWER: Were we supposed to know that, was I supposed to know that.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Well, I told you anyway, so screw it. (LAUGHTER) Um, lead character's blind and so it gave us an amazing opportunity there and um, so she, the way she hears the world is very, very, very important. And uh, so we spent tons and tons of time. Did I answer your whole question Monique? She's gone.
JOEL SIEGEL: Monique's gone. Emily Ronkar in Seattle, Washington.
EMILY RONKAR: Hi Emily, I dated Emily for a bit as well. (LAUGHTER)
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: What's up, Emily?
EMILY RONKAR: I'm good. Um, my question is, do you have any plans of doing action or comedy films that are way different from the movies that you've done in the past?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, well. Yeah, I'm gonna try to incorporate more comedy. Comedy is the first thing that gets jettisons in the cut and in the re-writes because it just seems, I, you know, when I go, I put a little clever line or something, it always gets chopped off right away 'cause you want to like you know, B-line the movie just wants to be a suspense movie and it just goes right to the end. So I always feels so sad, 'cause like they'll be 7 funny moments and all, like six of them will get out of it. So I gotta work harder on that, I gotta really work harder on that. Um, I'd love-, eventually again, as I said, if I did an adventure it would turn out very different that what you're thinking with the word with the word adventure, probably wouldn't be very adventurous. (LAUGHTER) But it would be interesting. I mean when we did um, when I asked to Raiders 4, you know, to write Raiders 4 you know, the ideas that came into my head were you know, very introspective (LAUGHS) ideas abut India, you know, and I was like Steven, you sure I'm the right guy to do this? And he's like, 'Yeah, you'd be great, I mean it's up to you, and all.' And I was like, 'I don't know.' 'Cause I-, you know, I had all these ideas about you know, you know, heroes and what that meant and all stuff, but in the end I couldn't do it for time but, um, I would, I would love to one day.
JOEL SIEGEL: We have Monica Apodaca in Phoenix, Arizona. Monica.
MONICA APODACA: Hello.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Hey.
MONICA APODACA: Um, one last question. Do you have any advice on what details to pay attention to when creating and directing a story and is there any advice in general that you want to give to up coming directors?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Um, yeah. I mean, I mean the details to pay attention to, well that's a hard one, geese. The details to pay attention to. Well, here's, here's my problems that I have when I make film and why I go-. Why I'm-, you know, when you go, 'We put so much love and dedication, we put so much time into this how can anyone not like The Village, how is it possible? How is physically possible, man?' That's literally how we feel, it's impossible. 'Cause of what they did you know, these actors are the greatest actors-, and we go that feeling. And if someone didn't like it it's really because I, you know, there are layers to telling a story and the first layer and I, this is going to sound ridiculous I know, uh, my kids watch the Barney Movie, have you guys seen this movie? It's horrendous. (LAUGHTER) So, so, they watch this movie, they're riveting, riveted and be-, and that taught me a lesson, it taught me a lesson because the Barney movie has a circus in it, it has a parade in it, it has nursery rhymes in it, it has big dinosaurs in it, and it has n-, you know, it's, it's, I mean, I don't want-, I don't know if your uncle did it or something, I'm sorry, but (LAUGHTER) it's not, it's not the greatest movie, OK, but it really taught me a lesson. It said, you know, that is layer one. Who, what, what is your audience and what, what do they, what do they need? You need to do that first. You know, a general broad stroke, have I done that. 'Cause a lot of time I skip that broad stoke, like in Unbreakable and I go right to the other levels, and I go 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. And I go, oop, I missed level 1. I skipped level 1, well screw them, we did level 12, you know, but that's not, that's not responsible filmmaking, at least not for me if I'm gonna open on 4,000 screens, that's not respo-, that's not-, I made-, I, it was error, I gotta go, comic book movie, expectation. Did I hit this, this and this? You don't have to do it in a cheesy way, you could do it in a brilliant way, just make sure you do that level one.
JOEL SIEGEL: What you're talking about is story telling.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Well, layers of story telling you know, and so-.
JOEL SIEGEL: But you have to begin-.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: The colors, the right colors, so.
JOEL SIEGEL: Yes, you have to begin by you know, we have a room full of people here and we have to draw them in and that's, that's story telling.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Right. You know, and I, you know, if I look like, we'll just talk in generalities for a second, but there is a summer blockbuster that is just loaded and reviewed beautifully this year and I went to see it and to understand what it is, you know. And, there are, the details in it are good and OK, here and there. You know, the filmmaking's good. Ok, but the broad strokes are brilliant you know. I knew it's audience, and it executed though that type of-.
JOEL SIEGEL: It was a movie about an insect, is that right?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: I'm not gonna tell you noth'n! (LAUGHTER) So, the, the top layer of it was brilliantly done and, and they did level 1, level 2 like that, and that's, that's another lesson and you can't-, the, the level-, reality levels 3,4 ,5, 6, 7, that's my own deal. They're not paying me to do that and people aren't that's not what they're originally paying for. I-, I need to do that so I can wake up in the morning, but that's not my job.
JOEL SIEGEL: That was our last question from around the country. I have a, a question, talking about being a director. Where does the money come from, how did you get started? How, who let you do Sixth Sense? We talk-, you said it cost $15 million bucks, which is not a lot of money, but for a kid who was 27 years old, who had had two horrible flops, it was all the money in the world. (LAUGHTER) I hate to remind you, but you were the one who said it.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Thanks Joel. (LAUGHTER) Um, what happened was you know, why I said I wish I could go back to thinking like that was I was, I was impenetrable. I was impenetrable. There was nothing you could do to me that I would, that would hurt me, that's literally how I felt. So, I came out, finished this script, and I was like it's, it's un-, unbelievable, it's unbelievable, I know what I have and I called my agent and I said, I gotta spec, I'm giving it you on Sat-, on Sunday, on Monday I want to put it out for sale, Monday morning and minimum bid is $1million dollars. And he goes, 'What?' And I go, '$1 million dollars,' and I go, and he goes, 'When you say minimum it means you won't take $900,000?' I said, 'You're absolutely right, I'm not taking less than a million dollars.' And he said, 'What's it about?' I said, 'I'm not gonna tell you.' (LAUGHTER) I said, 'I'll give it you, you'll see it when you see it.' And I said-.
JOEL SIEGEL: Is this agent still alive?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Oh, he's the president of the, the agency (LAUGHTER). And um, to, to their credit they said, 'all right.' And so they called all the studios and said, 'Night has a, a new spec.' and I was, I was kind of known for writing Stewart, Stewart Little, and a spec called Labor of Love. So they had known my writing. So they said, 'He has a new spec, and minimum, minimum price is a million dollars, it's coming at 10 am, and write/directing is guaranteed.' And he goes, 'If you can't, if you can't live by those terms you can't even read it Monday morning.' And that was what was said and um, by 11, 11:30 was the first offer of 2 million dollars. Yeah. And it ended up being like 3 something.
JOEL SIEGEL: Well?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yeah. I mean, in the why I did that was-.
JOEL SIEGEL: Could you believe yourself while this was going on?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Yes, I was totally dead serious to walk away, walk away for $900,000. I was living at my parents house. (LAUGHTER) I was ready to walk away. You need-.
JOEL SIEGEL: You would've gone to medical school?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: You need to, you need to, you need to have, you could hear it in my voice, I was not joking, I was not playing. And the reason was that I had written Labor of Love which was a really, really beautiful script and they had bought it really cheap and um, took me off as director and still at Fox, now they've offered back to me 800 times (LAUGHTER), but it's still there and I was like, 'no, we're not gonna make it now.' Uh, but it was really a moment where I realized no one else will that set that-, I will decide with honesty about my own work and then I will tell you, you know. And if that doesn't work I'm willing to put it on the shelf, and I was willing to do it, and they, they knew I was willing to do it.
JOEL SIEGEL: We have about 1 minute left, we've all asked you a lot of questions, is there one question that you haven't been asked that you'd like to answer?
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Well, um, you know, I-, there's a, you know, this is just a sense of it, you know, as we, you know, to see you know, your name on Time Square and all the stuff is really weird, you know, and posters and um, and it you know, it's just you want to be it, I don't want to turn into these kind of, like a rock star who can't write a song that anybody cares about anymore, but in their youth they wrote they greatest songs of all time you know, why is that? The-, they should be able to write better songs, and you can't write, something happens, where you, you cannot connect anymore, you cannot connect. The things that are on your mind are not on everyone else's mind. And you know, my wife is always like, you have no idea what it's like 'cause you know, you never pay for anything (LAUGHTER) at a restaurant and you know you go and never wait in like, I'm like this is waiting in line, this is totally overrated. (LAUGHTER) And, and you know, she's like 'you're ridiculous.' And, and what happens you know, is, is if you don't you know, I remember fighting with the neighbors dog when I was writing Sixth Sense 'cause the neighbors dog used to come in and knock the lid off the trash can and then all the dirty diapers would get everywhere, and I'd scream at the neighbor. If you don't have the experience, how can I write that and then you guys connect to it, you know, if you don't have those. It's a, it's a really scary thing as you know, kind of the-, as your life changes you want to still be able to tell accessible stories and you know, it's, it's just, that's a scary thing and, and also kind of, the things that worry you, like say you know-. Say for example you, you might thing The Village is a big success and it really, I might have a point of view that I might be crushed by something someone said, you know? And that, it, it's a very different world.
JOEL SIEGEL: Not me.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Not, not Joel. Joel's got this review.
JOEL SIEGEL: We, we have to go.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: All right, well, I had a fun time.
JOEL SIEGEL: We'd like to thank you very much, like to thank you all very, very much and Night Shyamalan, a great director, the films opens.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: July 30th.
JOEL SIEGEL: At a theatre near everybody. And I can't to see it.
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: Thanks, Joel.
<< READ PART 1 OF THE INTERVIEW
The Village was released July 30th, 2004 and stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson, Cherry Jones, Celia Weston. The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan.