M Night Shyamalan


Interviewed by Alec Cawthorne

How do you describe "Signs"?

It's about this little family living on this little farm and they see all these things on TV. For them, that's what the world outside their farm is because they live a very isolated existence. We never leave the farm so we get sucked into their world. Mel's character was a reverend and he's having all these issues about faith and belief. I think I take what you might call a B-movie story, deal with B-movie subjects, and I treat it as if it's an A-movie in terms of my approach, my crew, my actors, my ethics and so on. I guess that's my trademark or one of them anyway!

How do you approach the film-making process?

I have this whole picture of the film in my head and then I put it all down on paper and storyboard it; showing the movie shot by shot. I like to feel that I have thought of everything before the camera starts rolling but I think that's probably my asset and weakness as a film maker. I am giving my cast a target that I have in my mind and they are trying to hit it. It's positive because I know exactly what I want to get out of my actors and the scene. But the negative is that I might not catch the lightning in the bottle, I may not get that unexpected improvised brilliance.

Why did you give yourself a larger role in this film than you've done in your previous films?

Obviously I know people will recognize me so I tried to give myself a role where the action has stopped anyway. I introduce this character at a moment in the movie where the movie naturally stops so it's not like in the middle of the scene where it would come as a bit of a jolt. But I really wasn't sure I was doing the right thing until I actually filmed it. And then I thought, yes this works, this is the right thing.