In the 14 years between The Sixth Sense and today, M. Night Shyamalan’s career has seen a few twists. But whether cheered or jeered, the filmmaker’s projects have always maintained a rigorous visual standard, command of talented actors, and an inventive exploration of fear and family. Shyamalan’s newest sci-fi thriller—After Earth (out now)—is no exception. Here’s what we learned from Shyamalan when we sat down for a chat.
1. He’ll admit to a mistake (but not the ones you’d think)
While most of the Internet still wants an apology for The Last Airbender, Night is quick to admit mistakes from his early, early career. Night started making films when he was 12 years old, and still recalls his first big blunder:
“The first movie I made was a copycat of Friday the 13th. It was me, 12 or 13 or however old I was, hearing something and freaking out, and it was really cheesy. No character; just a horror sequence of a dude running through a forest. And I think that was an important lesson to learn. Everything is character-based. All my early movies were event-based, so that was filmmaking mistake #1.”