Shyamalan Talks The Last Airbender
Bill Desowitz: What was this experience like?
M. Night Shyamalan: I've never been so drained because basically it's like two-and-a-half times the size of one of my movies. I guess I underestimated the toll that it would take physically and emotionally. That's probably what I can comment on. I know I've never been more excited about a movie. When we finished it and I did the sound check, I was really, really taken by it -- the subject of the movie. Maybe because the original idea wasn't mine, I could have a little more distance quicker. But it really helped me watch [the animated series] as an audience member at that time, which is very rare. But as a process, it was Herculean.
BD: But you can certainly see the spiritual and supernatural themes that interest you.
MNS: Yeah, there are a lot of conversations about faith that I use and the supernatural as the vehicle to talk about it.
BD: Talk about the collaboration with ILM, as your most vfx-intensive movie.
MNS: It was a long, complicated process of thousands of sessions of talking through shots and seeing each stage and trying to get a common language of aesthetics. And I screened the movie very early for the animators when there was nothing in it and I talked through my hopes and what I imagined was there. I really tried to approach it with a common philosophy. So there wasn't a bunch of boutique animators doing something but all under a common point of view. And I learned on the job about how to communicate my thoughts and what's important. At first, it was all overwhelming to convey from scratch everything I needed. But soon a language developed and ILM gave me the very best people that they had.
MNS: Yes, I definitely go for the minimal amount we can do. Where does the eye go? Very much about what it represents for the characters. If we're talking about creatures, I'll definitely talk in depth about their personalities. In ways, I talk to the animators as if they were actors and what the motivations are coming from.