With all the movie star talent heading to the small screen, it was only a matter of time before directors started following them. The biggest name to do so recently? M. Knight Shyamalan, of “The Sixth Sense” fame. He’s turning to TV with “Wayward Pines,” an eerie 10-part series adapted from the Blake Crouch novels, starring Matt Dillon. We caught up with Shyamalan to learn more about his new TV series, which has a bit of a “Twin Peaks” feel.
Why did you decide to do a TV show?
I wanted to do a TV show a long time ago. Blake Crouch wrote an incredible story. In movies, you have to get to the answers as quick as you can. But TV allows me to tease the audience. The pilot is very important. How do you introduce the unknown? If you look at film, the old structure is first act, second act, third act. That’s what used to be. It worked. But this isn’t the case any longer. If an accident hasn’t happened, the audience gets impatient. It’s like a chorus in a pop song. Right now it’s about 18 minutes setting up viewers. Something must happen every 18 minutes. Or people would say: “It’s boring! Nothing ever happened!” And now the third act is much longer. Did you notice that in a comic book movie the third act is about 60 minutes? There are no more first acts in movies. But I love the first act. So TV gives me an opportunity to show the characters in the first act, so the audience can live with them.
What drew you to “Wayward Pines”?
There is a balance in the way Blake Crouch lays out the mystery and the kind of David Lynch humor, and ultimately the answer is well-grounded, provocative, a big idea, and has moral implications. I was like, “Wow, I love it.” I chose Matt Dillon because he’s like John Travolta. I wanted to take his iconic status and then crush it. And I wanted somebody who hasn’t been on TV before. And Matt can play that David Lynch humor very well.
Speaking of David Lynch, he refused to do the third season of “Twin Peaks.”Maybe he’s afraid of “Wayward Pines”?
No, no, no. [Laughs] David Lynch is afraid of nothing! Rightly so. For me, David Lynch is like a god. When I’m writing a new script, I have two Blu-rays on my desk. One is “Blue Velvet” by David Lynch. And the other one is “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” by Pedro Almodóvar. There is a huge difference between “Wayward Pines” and David Lynch movies. In David Lynch movies, that’s the way he sees the world. In “Wayward Pines,” they’re acting like they are in a David Lynch movie. But for a reason. And that’s the big idea.
“Sixth Sense” became something of a calling card for you. Is that the reason you moved to TV?
Of course, I still love “The Sixth Sense.”And the second one I like the most is “Unbreakable.”These were children-oriented movies now being judged by 40-year old males. You want me to keep making that? I get that. We all are guilty. We want the same day over and over again. I just made a small movie for Universal. It was difficult, but I loved the experience. As long as it’s about characters and I have the ability to be dark, I’ll be happy.
So it could be a start of your relationship with TV.
It could be, you never know. That’s something I learned. You shouldn’t have an agenda. You should just be in a moment.