Screenwriting 101: M. Night Shyamalan

December 18th, 2012 by

The Sixth Sense started out as a serial killer movie [laughs]. Malcolm was a crime scene photographer, a burnt-out one at that, and not a great dad. It was Parents Day at the school, and the parents are in the classrooms looking at the artwork, and his kid’s in there, and Malcolm’s outside, smoking in a non-smoking hallway, and he’s staring at a wall of these kids’ drawings, and suddenly his attention becomes focused and he walks towards the wall and stops smoking. More and more we get focused on this one particular drawing, a crayon design, a star of some kind. We’ve seen it before, it’s a design that’s on the victims of a serial killer, and this child has drawn this same exact design in crayon. So Malcolm lifts the paper that’s folded over it to see who drew it, and it’s his own son. That’s the movie; it’s about Malcolm realizing that his son is seeing the victims of this killer.”

— M. Night Shyamalan

4 thoughts on “Screenwriting 101: M. Night Shyamalan

  1. LOVE Shyamalan! Even if the film doesn’t work, you have to appreciate his commitment to creating highly original ideas and his boldness in executing them.

  2. bobstinson2 says:

    For me this is another argument for the importance of finishing your first draft. You never know how your story might change as you write it. You never know whether typing one word or one sentence will make something click and send your brain in an important new or different direction.

  3. LOVE it! Has that Night Gallery-Twilight Zone feel.

  4. Scott says:

    Let me add this note: I don’t have a link for this so don’t quote me, but I believe I read where Shyamalan didn’t realize that Malcolm Crowe was dead until the 5th draft of the script!

    What if he had quit after draft #4?

    Another takeaway: We have to keep pushing the story, pushing the story until we feel like we’ve found what we need to find, and told the story as it needs to be told.

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