Ishana Shyamalan on Fantasy Fandom and Attending ‘Film School’ on M. Night Shyamalan Sets

Ishana Shyamalan on Fantasy Fandom and Attending ‘Film School’ on M. Night Shyamalan Sets

Image: io9/Gizmodo

Writer-director Ishana Night Shyamalan makes her feature debut with The Watchers, based on the novel by A.M. Shine. Starring Dakota Fanning (The Equalizer 3), the film follows a young artist who becomes lost in the woods and encounters three strangers trapped in the wilderness by a mysterious force. The Watchers is inspired by Irish folklore, and Shyamalan spoke to io9 about how mythology sparked her imagination from a young age.

“I was very into both Greek and Egyptian mythology. I just found myself being obsessed with it as well,” she shared. “ I loved going to museums and experiencing that kind of art. I always find myself very kind of moved by anything mythological.”

The Watchers is produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Ishana’s father, who encouraged her to pursue her creative spark; growing up on his film sets was like Filmmaking 101 for her. “I think my whole life has been a little bit of a film school journey in some ways, just by nature of being by my dad’s side, watching as he’s gone through things he perceives as successes, things he perceives as failures, the deep sort of emotion of the filmmaking process,” Shyamalan said of her upbringing. “So he’s really allowed my sisters and I to be right with him during all those things. And then as we got older, we started kind of playing a role in that as well. He would ask us about casting and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I’m interested in that girl,’ and him kind of saying, ‘Yeah, well, why? What about her interests you?’ So I think he was kind of subliminally, just by way of sort of sharing in his experience, teaching me from a young age.”

That and a healthy dose of literary fandom from the spring of mythology lined up the filmmaker’s path to The Watchers. “I’m a huge fandom girl,” she discussed excitedly about her first genre loves. “So basically all the books that sort of play in the fantasy space, I’ve loved. I was deeply into the Spiderwick Chronicles growing up. I loved the Eragon series. That was like my stuff. Anything that kind of plays in that kind of fantastical space I’ve always just been obsessed with.”

The Watchers opens June 7 only in theaters.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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