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Interview with M. Night Shyamalan of "Wayward
It was great to speak with him again! I love the show,
and he's been very nice and thoughtful in the interviews.
FBC PUBLICITY: Wayward Pines
June 12, 2015/11:30 a.m. PDT
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
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
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
Jamie: Okay. Great. Well, thank you so much.
Night: Thank you.
Moderator: Question comes from the line of Jethro Nededog.
Please go ahead.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Christina: Very well said. Thank you.
Night: Take care.
Kim: Vickie, unfortunately, we only have time for one more
Moderator: Our last question comes from the line of Matthew
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,
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
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
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