Avatar: The Last AirbenderM. Night Shyamalan

Night talks Last Airbender, Facing Fears, Original Films

Night was interviewed by Wales Online and the topics featured a number of things.  It’s a very good interview and gives us some more perspective on Night as a person.  Soapbox:  Regardless of how folks feel about him, and how he comes across to some, he is still a human being.  He deserves to be treated with dignity and respect as all deserve to be treated.  That should go without saying, but a lot of people just don’t care, and that’s very sad.  End soapbox.

“There were two types of film that were my guilty pleasure when I was kid and they were horror movies and martial arts movies,” says the talkative Indian-born director.

“I’ve been able to do my version of scarier movies, so I started to think about martial arts, the philosophy involved with every movement and how you discipline yourself. It’s a great medium for entertaining but also talking about deeper things.”

Shyamalan was responsible for adapting more than 30 hours of stories into a feature-length film, and plotted the film on boards for a year prior to principal photography.

“I knew from the moment I put the first words on the page that, to do a movie of this complexity, you have to put the work into it,” he reveals. “I was scared to death every day of shooting, as it could be so overwhelming, and there were so many unknowns.”

That included working with computer-generated imagery (CGI), something he once described as his “nemesis”.

“I’m a firm believer in limitations,” he explains. “I think that CGI is a way of saying anything’s possible, we can fix anything, we can change the colour of your eyes and that takes you away from who you are, as you need limitations, so it’s a very scary process to go into.

“I had to put my own limitations on myself and on the movie and say we’re not going to use CGI here, we’re going to build it and we’re just going to show a glimpse in the edges of frames, like tails of creatures leaving and things like that. It’s a tricky thing, you have an obligation to the fans and an obligation to cinema.”

A stickler for authenticity, Shyamalan moved production to the icy landscape of Greenland for the film’s early scenes, a feat that brought its own problems, such as how to keep everything and everyone from freezing. But it wasn’t the CGI or sub-zero conditions that proved Shyamalan’s biggest challenge, that accolade went to the 6,000 extras brought in for the film’s epic scenes.

“I didn’t expect the extras to be such an ordeal,” says Shyamalan laughing. “I’m concentrating on the main actors but behind them is someone mugging for the camera and you’re going ’Cut! Who are you? Why are you doing that?”’

In fact the entire shoot proved a learning curve, one that took Shyamalan out of his comfort zone on a daily basis, but despite this he hopes to make the further two films.

“If I get the opportunity to make the second and third movies, I’ll be much more certain about how to approach it in terms of characters and feel confident in how to use all these things as tools, the CGI, the extras and the costumes,” he says.

He adds he wants the story to become more “operatic” as it evolves.

“In the second part, which is my favourite, it gets darker, things go wrong and Aang makes a lot of bad choices. I love that as a second act of the story.”

Despite the exhaustion and the fact he’s only finished the film, it says something that Shyamalan’s already looking forward.

“There’s a great quote from a yoga master I met who said, ’In life you should burn brightly and then let it go’,” he says. “And right up until the last second I will tweak the film and then they say, ’You’ve run out of time’ and you let it go.”

He’s as philosophical when asked about facing the highs and lows of his career, for while The Sixth Sense received critical acclaim, his subsequent films have failed to live up to expectation.

“There’s no scenario where you don’t feel pressure,” he says. “Say a movie does really well, do you feel less pressure the second time? And say a movie fails, do you feel less pressure the second time? What scenario don’t you ask that question?” he says.

He believes he has the added advantage of living on a farm in Pennsylvania, far from the epicentre of the film industry in Los Angeles.

“For me I am so isolated. I close the door on my farm and write and come out with something and I’m so incredibly lucky to make original movies,” he says.

“When we made The Sixth Sense in 1999, the industry was all original material. We had Being John Malkovich, American Beauty, The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project. Every single movie that was dominating cinema was by an original filmmaker with an original point of view and clearly that’s not the case today.

“But every movie needs to be beautiful and fantastic for me and I hope the audience will see the beauty in it too.”

-via Wales Online

3 Responses to “Night talks Last Airbender, Facing Fears, Original Films”

  1. John says:

    I can’t imagine what this man is going threw now, but I support his work. Dont’ let those bastards get to you M. Night.

  2. miranda says:

    i can’t think about all the pressure your on for. when i watched your movie i thought is was amazing the best movie you had ever made.

  3. Imalshen says:

    Hehehe, get me around those extras and I’ll smack them for you!!! I hate unprofessional behavior.

    We love you Night!!!

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