Interview with M. Night Shyamalan from "Wayward Pines" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Interview with M. Night Shyamalan from "Wayward Pines" on M. Night Shyamalan

Interview with M. Night Shyamalan of "Wayward Pines" on FOX 6/12/15

It was great to speak with him again! I love the show, and he's been very nice and thoughtful in the interviews.

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: Wayward Pines
June 12, 2015/11:30 a.m. PDT

Kim Kurland
M. Night Shyamalan


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the M. Night Shyamalan Wayward Pines conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session; instructions will be given at that time. (Operator instructions.) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like turn the conference over to our host, Ms. Kim Kurland. Please go ahead.

Kim: Hi, everyone. I just wanted to thank you for taking part in the call today with Night. As most of you probably know, last night was a key episode for us where all of the answers that had been promised were given, although thereís still much more to be revealed and Night can go intoóelaborate a little bit more on that. I just wanted to remind you, our next original episode is on Thursday, June 25th at 9:00. We actually are preempted next week.

Vickie, I think with that we can take our first question.

Moderator: (Operator instructions.)

Kim: Well thereís people dialed in; people must have questions.

Moderator: Our first question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby. Please go ahead.

Jamie: Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today. Iím not sure why the *1 hadnít worked before, but itís great to talk to you again.

Night: No problem.

Jamie: Last time when I talked to you, you talked about the decision to put the reveal early on of whatís going on. Even because of that, thereís still so much going on in the following episodes after that. Can you talk about keeping that pace going, and did it make it easier having only ten episodes as opposed to a longer run?

Night: Yes, very much so. I donít know if when we spoke earlier, if I spoke about the original intentóat least when I was talking to Fox initiallyówas to do 12 or 13, and then we started to outline it and it did have a little vamp feeling in there. There were a couple episodes that I just couldnít get enough teeth in it that it felt like I was vamping for the more tentpole episodes. We talked to Fox, and Fox felt the same way. They said, ďWell, what do you think about doing ten?Ē and I said, ďThatís probably what this story wants to be at least the one that Iíd outlined from Ethan waking up in the forest to the last episode.Ē I could see it very clearly as ten and how the architecture works with the fifth episode being letting everyone in, at least, on the big picture of whatís happening. For me, Episode 5 and 6 are the answers episodes. Then for me, post that, is the "Oh my God, how are we going to deal with what we know now?" Thereís a specific thing I wanted to aim at in my head. I had it in my head that I wanted to get to this big moment that is basically in 9 and 10. I knew I wanted to aim there. For me, when I was pitching it to Fox, what the season looked like, I was like I wanted to get to thisóand Iím avoiding saying what it is because I just donít want to ruin it for you guysóbut the format was critical. And I think thatís whatís so beautiful about doing television right now is you can fit the form to the subject and not the other way around which is a great benefit to storytellers.

Jamie: Great and then as a follow-up. Do you have a favorite kind of surprise moment or revealóthereís a lot and thereís a couple big, but is there one tható

Night: Yes, letís see. I did perversely enjoy when Juliette got it, although I loved her, too. I loved her as an actress. It was so sad because we were having such a great time and I was bumming about doing that to her, but the more that you love her the better it is. So that was probably the most perverse of them, but thereís one to comeóthat is the thing Iím referring to youóthat for me is what the piece has been moving to and that happens in end of 8 into 9óin that area.

Jamie: Okay. Great. Well, thank you so much.

Night: Thank you.

Moderator: Question comes from the line of Jethro Nededog. Please go ahead.

Jethro: Hello.

Night: Hi.

Jethro: Hi. I was wondering, a lot of the book readers said that last nightís episode is pretty truthful to the book. Number one, how much did you desire to do that, and number two, does it move away from the book as the series goes on?

Night: It was an interesting process because Blake hadnít actually written two. He was writing two while we were writing the season as well, so there was a lot of co-mingling of ideas and inspirations. It was super healthy on both sides in terms of suggesting, proffering ideas of which way the world could go. I think for both of us, for Blake and I, that the subject, it just is so rich and fraught with social ramifications and plot ramifications that we were just really excited about where everybody was goingóthe writers. I think Blake was inspired by some stuff, and we were really inspired by some stuff. But I think we mutually decided that after the big reveal we could just explore different aspects of it together. I know Blake has been super supportive about everything. There was some invention as we went, but I was hugely aiming at this one idea that happens in Episode 9-ish, that was important to me.

Jethro: Great. Thank you.

Night: Thank you, Jethro:.

Moderator: The next question comes on the line. This is Suzanne Lanoue. Please go ahead.

Suzanne: Hi, nice to talk to you again.

Night: Hi, Suzanne.

Suzanne: Iíve really been enjoying the episodes and I wanted to know if you have been keeping track at all of what people said on the internet and whether the results have been what youíd hope for in terms of both fan response, critic response, and ratings?

Night: I donít normally check all of that, but my office has been all over it and so excited. From what I understand, everything has exceeded my expectations. The audience reactionóthereís such an intense attachment to the show from those that are watching it and I hope those who are going to start watching it now after all thisóbecause we keep, luckily for us, growing and as I understand it, thatís a very rare thing these days in television. Iím very proud of thatóthat the people that have watched it have recommended it so strongly that others are adding on each week. Our last episode was our strongest, and I assume last night was even stronger and itíll keep on growing. Thatís a really great feeling.

I feel like critically I couldnít have asked for any more, and audience reaction feels pinned in such a positive, supportive way, just beyond my expectations. Itís my first time doing television and to be embraced so generously, it just couldnít have worked out any better. For me, to some extent, the way we structured even the airing of the episodes so that there was a break right here after Episode 5 was with the hope that at this pointówe didnít know whether we would have a fan base that would talk and spend time and try to tell everybody, the strategic intent was to give it a little break after this, as we get to the last five, to get everybody to get caught up. Thatís the beauty of doing ten episodes. For me, Iíll tell you, Iím a lazy viewer so you need to tell me 20 times that Game of Thrones is great before I watch it. Itís literally like that, and then I watch it; or Breaking Bad and then I watch it. Iím like "Iím not going to watch it unless I know itís great." Iím hoping that the fans thatíve been growing, that they can tell a lot of people. We have this break hereówhich is everybody can watch it on Fox Now and Fox On Demand. The way people consume is so different now and we were kind of counting on it. The nature of the show is one that is addictive and one that rewards you every week and is one that you can grab onto and join on quicklyówatch five episodes. Itís like, for example, you never saw an episode and you watched all five now over this next week. Weíre imagining thereís a huge amount of audience that is going to do that and then watch the second half with us.

Suzanne: TV has changed what they mean when they say things like mini-series, limited run, etc., if it continues to be successful, will there be a second season?

Night: Itís all very pliable and fluid. I think whatís so great about this format, event series and all that stuff, is it feels so complete and it was wonderful. We have the particular advantage in our case because of Blake Crouch and his books that he kept writing and he kept thinking of stories. We also have the fact that the world that he created is so rich and fertile that it wants more stories, whether we ever decide to or not is a separate thing, whether Fox asks me and we talk about it and all that stuff. I donít knowóI mean, Iím open to it. Itís just Iím so happy that the format, in and of itself, seems to be working the way it was intended, the ten episodes. I canít speak for other limited series and all that stuff, but itís a beautiful thing that you can aim with intensity at a storytelling style that I think imbues it with some integrity and if that integrity then merits another story thatís a wonderful thing.

Suzanne: Alright. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

Night: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Sheldon Wiebe. Please go ahead.

Sheldon: Hi, Night. Thanks so much for doing this.

Night: Oh, no problem. Thatís a great name by the wayóSheldon WiebeóIíve got to steal that.

Sheldon: Oh, feel free, just spell it properly. Iíve read the books, and so as Iím watching the TV series Iím noticing the changes and Iím curious, especially in last nightís episode where you have the big revelation comes in a way thatís totally different than in the books. I was wondering, how do you approach that kind of expositional change? What are the reasons for it, and how much work does that take?

Night: The Duffer brothers, who wrote that episode, were at my house and we spent a great deal of time talking about how thatís done. I watched it again last night with my family as it was aired, and I immediately was thinking about all the story meetings at my house where we were talking about the structure of this episode and Episode 6, what is the order of the information and how itís revealed. It is a puzzle that needs to be unraveled just carefully. Thinking of the coins and how you start with this and then what do you start withóand then was like we start with the abbies first. We introduce the abbies first and explained that, and then say, ďWell, thatís not possible.Ē Thatís what that lunch episode was about, that doesnít make any sense because how can you evolve, that takes forever to evolve. So youíre leaving out a huge chunk of information, then you use the coin. Then youíre using, cinematically, Matt finding the abbies in person, finding the sign in person, finding the post-apocalyptic city in the distance at the same time that thatís going on. Then in a minor way, the wife is finding out through the new tenant, Wayne Johnson, about the pods that they were put in and everything dovetailing together to give you more of the picture rather than it being a monologue. We wrote it first with a monologue from Pilcher and I was like this is just too much literary information, and weíre going to have to make it visual. It was a great exercise. The DuffersóI was really, really proud of their writing. I mean, the Duffers wrote a lot of the episodes and they just did a great job; theyíre great filmmakers.

Sheldon: Plus, it also gives you a chance to get to know other people in the town and a little bit more about them; so itís kind of a win-win.

Night: It is. It is. Youíll see that I was very enamored with the social implications on the young when one indoctrinates them into a belief system. Iím always interested in these kind of moral choices of, ďDo you kill?Ē ďWould you kill five children to find the cure to cancer?Ē that kind of thing. Those kind of moral dilemmas. Thatís what really drew me to this story and what really fuels the remaining five episodes.

Sheldon: Terrific. Thanks very much.

Night: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jasmine Alyce. Please go ahead.

Jasmine: Hello. Thanks so much for speaking with us today.

Night: No problem, Jasmine.

Jasmine: After last nightís episode it seems like Theresa is the only member of the family that has no idea whatís going on in Wayward Pines. Can you talk a little bit about how sheíll come to find out and when?

Night: Soon. Sheíll find out soon. I canít tell you how and all of that stuff, but definitely. Thatís also a fascinating part of the conversation. Itís intimatedóitís touched on there, in the indoctrination scene of the children, but that will be expanded on over the next episodes of what the differences between adults in this situation and children in this situation and which one has a handicap and which one has an asset.

Jasmine: Alright. As a follow-up, because you touched on the children, it seems like the first generation, the people in the town put a lot of influence and power into the hands of the kids. How will we see that play out over the course of the season?

Night: Itís a big deal. The kind ofóIím trying toóthe reason Iím stutteringóI barely ever stutter. The reason Iím stuttering is Iím trying to avoid everything thatís popping into my head to tell you.

Jasmine: Itís okay. No problem.

Night: Iím dancing around every answer. I so want to have this conversation with you.

Jasmine: I want you to have it.

Night: Itís a fascinating thing toóthey reference the ark and Pilcherís intentions to make an ark. Thereís a wayógosh, Iím trying not to avoid telling you everything thatís going to happen. Thereís a thing that we take for granted because thereís so many of us right now that freedom and lack of rules or flexibility of social environment is a givenóthatís a right. But if there was only X number of us, does one of us get to jeopardize the group? Well, no that couldnít be allowed, right? Those kinds of freedoms couldnít be allowed because thereís so few of us, so weíre going to have to make really stringent rules. So this kind of mentalityóIím really dancing around itóbut this kind of thinking of how valuable this last group is and to what extent would you go to make sure that that group expands. It pushes all moral things that we take for granted right now because thereís seven billion of us.

Jasmine: Right. Okay. Well, thank you very much.

Night: Iím dancing around it, but you can imagine when weíre talking about so few of us, how precious those children are.

Jasmine: Right. Yes. Exactly. Well Iím interested to see how it plays out over the rest of the season.

Night: Yes, well you can assume itís not going to be warm and fuzzy.

Jasmine: No. No.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Joshua Maloney with NY Paper. Please go ahead.

Joshua: Hi, Night, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

Night: No problem.

Joshua: The projects that you work on always have great, really shocking twist and turns. And Iím wondering what you like about that facet of storytelling and why is it important to you?

Night: You know itís funny, I donít think of it that way. I know thatís how itís taken, but I donít see it that way, I donít think of it that way at all. In fact, when I think of it like that it becomes thin and meaningless. It is all a continuation of characterís awareness for me. If I put myself in the shoes of a main character and that person is learning more about their world, more about their situation, that feels very organic to me. Things arenít right, Iím feeling clouded, obscured. Iím feeling like suffocated, why, why, why, and getting those answers feels very organic. Itís an increasing of our main characterís knowledge. Are they ready for that? Did they misunderstand something fundamental? When I think of it more from the characterís perspective, it feels much more exciting for me to tell these stories, because then what my job is as the storyteller is to make you in sync with the main character so that your misunderstanding is the same as theirs and every piece of information that they have you have, and youíve misunderstood it the exact same way. Then when it comes, it shouldíve been inevitable in retrospect.

Joshua: Alright. Your show has a great cast. Itís a cast that has been shrinking in the past couple of episodes. Iím wondering, what was the conversation like with the actors that have been axed? Did they buy in immediately or did they need some convincing?

Night: Iíll be honest, there were a couple of conversations where they were begging to live a little longer and I was like, ďMan, Iím sorry. This is Wayward Pines, this sh** happens. Iím sorry.Ē It was hilarious conversations, and they even pitched me stuff, ďMaybe Iím not really dead and I got severely hurt and I can get back up again.Ē Then I was like, ďMaybe, maybe. Let me think about it.Ē

Itís sweet actually. The conversations were super sweet in terms of they wanted to be in it, and they were so supportive. All the actors wereóit was a great team of actors that really loved the idea and loved the premise so much and they were super supportive of everything. Really, itís funny, I feel very tied to all of them in almost an equal way. Even if they were in three episodes or four episodes or all ten episodes, they feel very attached to the piece. Itís strange, even Juliette for example, feels so embedded in the whole piece, and she feels, from her point of view as well, very committed to it.

Joshua: Alright. Appreciate it.

Night: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Christina Avina with On Request Magazine. Please go ahead.

Christina: Hello again, Night, how are you?

Night: Iím good.

Christina: Well, great. Thank you for being here. I just wanted to talk a little bit about the opening scene from the next episode, because the way we left off last night which is such a great way to leave people hanging for about a week. Then, of course, weíve seen it weeks ago, but I was anticipating last night so that everyone else could see it, and now Iíve seen the beginning of the next episode. Immediately it just sucks you into this other place, and youíre like what the heck just happened. Very well shot by the way, beautiful. My question is, so now are flashbacks going to be playing a huge role to get the audience up to speed on how we got to where Wayward Pines is today, and how long will the flashbacks be continuing?

Night: Thatís such a great thing youíre bringing up. This is myóIím a crack addict when it comes to flashbacks. Itís just my thing. I just find it so moving when we can go back and see how someoneówhere they came from or how they got here or how the couple got to a problem and all that stuff. For me that was the beauty of finally getting to tell everyone in 5 and 6, I could start to go backwards now and tell you how we got here. The how we got here from all the charactersí perspective is so exciting. It was something thatóand youíre really tapping into what the structure was that I fell in love with at my house when I had the writers here and I was like this is the structure, letís go back and tell how we got here.

Christina: Yes. I love back storying. Iím already thoroughly enjoying it, which brings me to my follow up. When we first spoke, we talked about the casting of Melissa Leo and how brilliant that was and her character just being so creepy and eerie and hateable. Now weíre going to this next episode and weíre seeing her in a very different light when the episode starts. Weíre starting to see her a little bit more as a person.So my question, I guess, is with whatever you can reveal, how long is that going to last or are we really going to go back and still hate her?

Night: Thereís two answers to that. One is itís always exciting for me to take an audiencesí presumptions, especially ones that Iíve reinforced, and then deconstruct it. So basically take a two-dimensional perspective on a character and then why did they make it three-dimensional by the end of our story. There will be a fascinating re-evaluation of different things in this piece. The bad guys, who are the bad guys, who are the good guys, will become much blurrier as we go along, which I love. Thatís a critical thing. Iím dancing around certain things. Iím trying to thinkóthere was one other thing I wanted to sayóIím blanking on what I was going to say. Shoot. If I remember it, Iíll jump back in and say it.

Christina: No problem. Itís definitely going to be interesting. I canít wait to see how the characters sort of evolve and change my mind on some things.

Night: Yes. Oh, I know what I was going to say. Because itís a very blurry, moral question, thatís where your decisions on whoís a villain and whoís not will come into play. Most probably there will be a division in what people think, like, I would do anything given these circumstances, or you canít live like that, you should rather die out then do these things.

Christina: Very well said. Thank you.

Night: Take care.

Kim: Vickie, unfortunately, we only have time for one more question.

Moderator: Our last question comes from the line of Matthew Kelly,

Matthew: Hi, Night, how you doing?

Night: Iím good, Matthew.

Matthew: Fantastic. So last question, I think this is a pretty good one to kind of close everything out. Youíve revealed in the most recent episode the truth of whatís going on and we know that whatís going to follow is how are the different characters reacting and can they handle the truth, can they not. Do you think if you ended up in Wayward Pines tomorrow, memoryís lost, everythingís changed, do you think you could handle it?

Night: Iíve asked this question to myself. You know what, if I had my family there I think so, but if not Iím not sure.

Matthew: Do you think youíd try to discover more of the mystery of it or just nope, this isnít for me, see you guys, scenario?

Night: You know what, I think I would tryóIím not very good with authority period, so I donít know how that would work out. I probably would do very Ethan-like things and ask a lot of questions and keep pounding away at least I think. Maybe in that circumstance Iíd be so scared I wouldnít do anything, who knows.

Matthew: Very cool. Thank you so much.

Night: Thank you, Matthew.

Kim: Night, did you want to have any other closing comments before Vickie gave any of the replay information?

Night: No, I mean, I guess other than that, that weíve really hoped that the excitement about what theyíve seen will cause everyone to tell their brothers and sisters and cousins and they can catch up on the five episodes and binge watch them. When we were editing them I used to binge watch them to see how they played if I was the one binge watching them, and I loved the arcs of what you see when you watch them together. Youíll see more of the things that we talked about, either this time or the last time we were all talking together, the architecture of mystery to the reveal of the tentpole of the answer, and then subsequently where weíre going to go to in 9 and 10. So it plays in a long form as well. It plays in these little pieces like the TV viewer format, but because of the way you consume content now, it almost has to exist in a different form and in this kind of watching it in binge form. So hopefully everyone will enjoy that form as well. I want to thank everybody for coming on and talking about it.

Kim: Okay. Vickie, do you want to give the replay instructions?

Moderator: Absolutely. Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be made available for replay after 4:00 p.m. today until June 19, 2015 at midnight.

Kim: Great. Thanks everyone for participating.

Night: Thanks, guys.

Moderator: That does conclude our conference. You may now disconnect.

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