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M. Night Shyamalan talks micro-budget "ideas-driven" approach to Glass

As many of us have learned from movies, TV and purchasing bedazzled jeans to impress the opposite sex (just me?) money doesn’t buy you everything. This includes quality, something director M. Night Shyamalan learned on big-budget movies like THE LAST AIRBENDER and AFTER EARTH, movies that forced him to reinvent his approach to filmmaking, resulting in what many are calling a grand return to form.

While speaking with Deadline Shyamalan spoke about his string of expensive bombs led him to a drastic epiphany that drove him to personally finance and direct the film THE VISIT for a miniscule $5 million:

I felt like I wanted to ignite the danger switch in me. I wanted to tell myself, “You have no safety net.” I had the story of THE VISIT in my journal of ideas. I kind of guarded it as my creative secret weapon that I had. I was waiting to do it, because I knew I could do it very small. It was always burning a hole in my journal.

In making the movie for such a small amount he didn’t go to a big, sparkling studio to get his cash and instead “just went and did it.” Though he would not recommend such a risky endeavor be taken by everyone, he says doing so forces you to make decisions that can ultimately make the project better:

When you’re paying for it yourself, when you’ve left the system and you have very limited resources, the ideas and the solutions come from that. Your energy’s going exactly where it should be going. Let’s say you’re making a big studio movie. You need a location, so you decide to build a giant set, when really the answer was, “Don’t build it. Spend three more weeks location-scouting and find it.” You would never take that option, because you had the resources to build it. The gun wasn’t to your head. But if it had been, you might have found something better.

As a result Universal bought THE VISIT, which made $98 million worldwide, leading him to pitch them SPLIT, which was made for an almost equally small budget of $9 million and went on to make $276 million. Now that he’s found his groove again he’s going to keep the theme going with the upcoming SPLIT/UNBREAKABLE sequel, GLASS:

I’m going to approach it the same way I approached THE VISIT AND SPLIT, with the same kind of philosophy—that this is the budget, I’m going to fund it, and we’re going to make it for that number. If we can’t afford it, then I can’t use that person, or I have to rewrite that scene. Just put those limits on myself, and for a reason—to come up with a type of film that, in its genetics, feels like it is ideas-driven and not money-driven.

GLASS seems like it will be harder to make on such a small budget, with stars like Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson set to return to their UNBREAKABLE roles. But Shyamalan seems more focused and passionate now, and the precise budget may not be as small but his goals and vision seem unflinching. I like this Shyamalan, and though many actors and directors have gone the big-budget route only to discover its potential follies, I’m glad the director was able to come back out the other end with vigor and drive. You could say this return to form after years of sub-par work was Shyamalan’s biggest twist yet!

GLASS is set for a 2019 release.

Source: Deadline

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