Shyamalan builds on previous work with ‘The Last Airbender’

Nicole Stormann

Once chastised for his “coy and contrived” screenplays, M. Night Shyamalan is now known to many as the mastermind behind some of today’s most enigmatic cinema thrillers, such as “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and “The Village.”

What most people don’t know is that Shyamalan’s first two productions flopped in mainstream media. Luckily for Hollywood, Shyamalan continued in his filmmaking quest and rose to become a box office smash.

Born in India and raised in suburban Philadelphia, Shyamalan was expected to follow the family legacy and become a doctor like both of his parents. But by the time he was 17, Shyamalan had already completed 45 films ,and he decided to attend New York University for film school.

Writing, directing, producing and even acting in half a dozen films during the past 10 years, Shyamalan has acquired many trademarks in his movies, some of which include using spot color, like the red flowers in “The Village,” always using Pennsylvania as the setting, and even making cameo appearances in all but one of his films.

With his keen ability to build tension and suspense, Shyamalan believes a movie should be something more than a pastime or entertainment, it should be an experience.

“I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience,” said Shyamalan in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “If there’s a last film that’s released only theatrically, it’ll have my name on it. This is life or death to me. If you tell audiences there’s no difference between a theatrical experience and a DVD, then that’s it, game’s over, and that whole art form is going to go away slowly.”

At only 38 years old, Shyamalan has managed to rise to the top of the charts, and he isn’t going anywhere soon.

Look for his upcoming fantasy project “The Last Airbender,” which is in pre-production and is expected in 2010.