Joe Skinner: A lot of us have taken some time these past… however-many months, to think not just about how we’re doing, but what we’re doing too.
M. Night Shyamalan: Some people turned around and looked at the person they were with in their apartment building and went, “How did I get here?”
Joe Skinner: Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan was fortunate to be able to work from home during the pandemic, and think about his work differently.
M. Night Shyamalan: I think all of us went through some kind of examination. An amazing amount of loss and reflection that went on. For me personally, it was an important pause.
Joe Skinner: Night just came off of a string of hits, with The Visit, Split and Glass, movies that many saw as a return to form after a recent bumpy road, in a career that first took with his Oscar-nominated hit, The Sixth Sense, at just 29 years old.
M. Night Shyamalan: I was aware of going, “Hey let’s just stop this up and down thing, and take the pause. Where are we? What do I follow hollow about? What do I even want to achieve at this point?”
Joe Skinner: So he got to work on making his next film, Old, and it was borne of his time spent work-shopping on themes of aging and mortality, ideas especially resonant in a post-pandemic milieu.
M. Night Shyamalan: There’s something beautiful about that, of just sitting and letting ideas connect and who you are start to be more in alignment with the things you’re doing.
Joe Skinner: I’m Joe Skinner, and I’m hosting American Masters: Creative Spark, a podcast that explores what makes a master. Each week, we will share narrative interviews that go in-depth with one guest about the creation of a single work. A diverse group of artists and cultural icons will break apart their work piece by piece. For M. Night Shyamalan, he unpacks what drove him to make Old in the middle of a pandemic. We’ll hear from Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, Pulitzer-winning poet Jericho Brown, comedian Atsuko Okatsuka, animator Don Hertzfeldt, and more. Our goal is to investigate the creative process, on American Masters: Creative Spark. Check it out, our season begins Thursday, October 7th. Follow us on your favorite podcast listening app, or at pbs.org/creativespark. See you soon.