See­ing The Wood For The Trees

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Af­ter a ca­reer spent in movies, Shya­malan says the move to TV brought him new chal­lenges. “Ob­vi­ously I’ve been deal­ing with three- act for­mats for so long in movies, but net­works have com­mer­cial breaks, so there’s a five- or six- act struc­ture that they have per episode. That’s a new thing I had to learn. Also, the amount of ma­te­rial that you have to put out there, and the amount of time you have to do it is in­cred­i­ble. I just can’t be­lieve how fast they do it. It’s un­be­liev­able!”


In Amer­i­can terms, a ten- episode sea­son is fairly short. Even so, Shya­malan put pro­duc­tion on hia­tus half­way through to make sure ev­ery­one was head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. “We put a gap in the mid­dle so I could stop ev­ery­thing and re­cal­i­brate, edit, talk to the ac­tors, re­write... We started to get into the ‘ we’ll fig­ure it out’ thing, and when too many of those piled up, I said I thought it would be wise if we took our time to do it prop­erly. It was six or eight weeks, but it meant a lot. Fox were su­per- ac­com­mo­dat­ing for that.”


sci- fact! Shya­malan says he tried to bring some of his ex­pe­ri­ence as a film­maker to the look of the show. “I said, ‘ Are you in­ter­ested in hav­ing a cinema aes­thetic, in the sense of longer takes and the kind of things we bring to films?’ [ Fox] were so in­ter­ested in bring­ing a dif­fer­ent tone to the piece, they wanted it to be the thing that stands out about it – you’re flip­ping chan­nels and you come to it. Its vo­cab­u­lary is in­stantly dif­fer­ent. That re­ally ex­cited me. They all sat across from me and said, ‘ That’s what we want,’ and that’s what they let us do.”


Notes from a small town

Au­thor Blake Crouch was still work­ing on his novel when the show went into pro­duc­tion, so the writ­ing be­came a two- way process. “It was an in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­nity be­cause it was kind of back and forth be­tween Blake and us go­ing, ‘ We’re go­ing to take your book, and this many episodes will be about the first book. This is where we’re think­ing of go­ing.’ He’ll go, ‘ Oh, I was think­ing about this… Maybe I’ll put that in my book.’ He was re­ally gra­cious to let us de­velop this story in or­ganic ways. He couldn’t have been a bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tor.”


This game of mu­si­cal stat­ues had been go­ing on for hours.

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