The Watchers

Behind the Lens with Ishana Shyamalan: An Interview on The Watchers

The Watchers is a captivating horror film that explores themes of observation and confinement, taking audiences on a suspenseful journey through a forest teeming with unseen dangers. Directed by Ishana Shyamalan, the movie marks her debut and showcases her unique approach to filmmaking, distinguishing her from the legacy of her father, M. Night Shyamalan. In an exclusive interview with The Movie Blog, Ishana opened up about the creative process behind The Watchers, the challenges she faced, and her personal experiences that influenced the film. Her insights provide a deeper understanding of the movie’s intricate layers and her vision as a director.

The Watchers Trailer

The Movie Blog: The movie’s called The Watchers and it has the theme of observation and confinement. I think in a similar way, it would seem as though audiences are going to watch you through a one-way mirror of confinement as, “That’s M. Night’s daughter directing.” How do you handle those comparisons with your dad and is it something that you enjoy? How do you approach it?

Ishana Shyamalan: “Obviously at the baseline there’s sort of a level of my ego sort of wanting to be like, ‘okay, well, I’m an artist too!’… You know, that kind of thing. But I’m really trying not to pay attention to that. I think, for me, it’s just sort of about really the art-making process. The kind of movie itself has already taught me so much, and that’s really what I’m getting out of this experience. I think what everyone kind of gets through their different filmmaking processes. So, it’s about that for me. It’s very interesting. I think I got to sort of explore some of those fears and anxieties in the making of [the film], the feeling of judgment and being looked at is definitely something that I put into the film.”

Navigating the anxieties of a first-time director while carrying the weight of her family name was no easy feat for Ishana. However, she chose to channel these feelings into her work.

The Watchers Ishana Night Shyamalan (3)

The Movie Blog: How did you overcome those fears and anxieties?

Ishana Shyamalan: “I definitely haven’t overcome them now. I think they’re still there, but I’m not necessarily as afraid of feeling them. So it’s just kind of like letting the anxiety be there and dealing with it in many different ways. Being around my friends, my family, doing things for [my] soul.”

When it comes to the essence of her work, Ishana places a strong emphasis on visual storytelling.

The Watchers Ishana Night Shyamalan (3)

The Movie Blog: What are you the most proud of? Is there a scene or a moment that you hope other people will see as your personal stamp as a director?

Ishana Shyamalan: “I think for me, the sort of visual language is really what I care about most. I think that’s where you can see kind of the greatest part of me and my tastes, and colors that I’m interested in, and patterns and things like that. I hoped to make this movie with a kind of old-school approach and it was very much a process of trying to master and learn the elements of filmmaking.”

One of the standout elements in The Watchers is the innovative use of sound—or the intentional lack thereof—to heighten the film’s suspense and horror.

The Watchers Ishana Night Shyamalan (3)

The Movie Blog: One thing that you did to evoke more of the horror in this film was through the use of sound…or lack thereof. Can you talk about your approach and using sound to enhance the feelings of being watched and maybe the overall tension of the film?

Ishana Shyamalan: “I think the kind of silence is a very powerful thing. Particularly negative space in any form, visually or sonically, is really one of the scariest things you can do because only your imagination exists in that moment. So that was really something we were being intentional about and trying to play into that. There are these very distinctive moments of hearing nothing. I think the journey of the movie is very much like you’re desperate for information. And so it was kind of fun to me to be like, ‘oh, you’re desperate for information? I’m going to give you nothing!’ And then anything you feel or hear in those moments becomes immense. So, it was very, very fun to kind of play with that sonic landscape.”

Ishana Shyamalan’s debut with The Watchers demonstrates her unique vision and artistic sensibilities, distinct from her father’s legacy. Her thoughtful approach to filmmaking, as seen in her use of silence and visual language, brings a fresh perspective to the horror genre. Ishana’s insights into her creative process and the personal challenges she faced offer a deeper understanding of the film. As she continues to develop her craft, The Watchers stands as a promising start to what looks to be a compelling career in filmmaking.


The Watchers Movie

Director: Ishana Night Shyamalan
Writer(s): Ishana Night Shyamalan
Stars: Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan and Olwen Fouere
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