M. Night Shaylaman Is Not Made of Glass
I wrote before in the newsletter that I am very enamored of M. Night Shyamalan and not because of the movies everyone says they love, but because of the movies everyone says they don’t love.
Because he’s turned the shit thrown at him into pure gold.
This is what he said to Rolling Stone recently.
The details you can read in the original article, but the gist of it is after many false starts and stops, he knew that he had to invest everything he had into The Visit which was the film that started his return to a more independent way of making things, meaning, accepting he never has been, and never would be, a good company man.
Nobody at the studios wanted to distribute The Visit which he had invested million in. He showed it to everyone and they passed.
He came home, talked to his wife and was distraught. They had sunk millions of their own empire into it and M. Night and family didn’t know what to do next.
One night he and his kids sat down to work on a puzzle. I can’t paraphrase it any better than the original writer of the Rolling Stone article, Brian Hiatt wrote, so here it is:
Right after he came home to his wife of 25 years, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, and their three daughters, he assembled a puzzle with one of the kids and had a life-changing, trust-the-universe revelation. “Why did we keep looking for another piece?” he said in his speech. “We knew there was a picture. . . . It all felt suddenly so . . . intensely simple and right. I don’t need to know what the picture is of my life. I just have to trust there is a picture.” He focused on what he could control, returning to The Visit. He took a new cut to Universal, and horror maven Jason Blum signed on as a producer. The film ended up making $98 million.
So there it is.
Trusting that there is a picture.
I’ve talked to so many people who have invested million into this company or that company or that project and we (I’ve done the same) come to this point: faith and remembering that what we are doing is not about us, but about something bigger, something in service of others.
Even when everyone is saying ‘no’ and passing and no one is saying ‘yes’ having faith that there is a plan is the only thing we can hang onto because that knowing is all we can hang our hat on when the seas get choppy and they will get choppy.
People will ignore our emails. They won’t text us. They won’t be there to support us because their job isn’t to support us and ground us. That’s our job, and we decide to get better at then when others make it harder for us and that’s the master design.
That’s the point of problems. That’s the point of the endless shit piles people throw at others.
By going inward, we know we are the sky, not the storm.
By going inward, we know we are the deep core of the ocean, not the raging surface.
The reason it’s so hard to have faith is because we’re creatures of habit. We’re addicted to what is now and we can’t accept that being here now is where we create what’s coming.
It’s so weird, I know, but that delicate balance (as Ed Albee once wrote) is the grist of all grists.
If we look at what M. Night said we see a man who had millions at risk. Sure, he had such tremendous success before so we might think it was easier for him to focus on the possibilities, and yet he struggled. Even when he was the toast of the business with Sixth Sense that was a distant memory when it came to the next phase of his career.
Don’t you find that fascinating?
I’ve seen this with so many people (and with myself).
Now is all we have, and yet we can look back and take stock of what has worked and let that be our focus for now. We get gripped by the lack, and when that happens we cannot, no matter what anyone says, see the proof of what’s coming which is right in front of us.
To create great things we must hold the vision of what we want and that’s why vigilance is necessary for a long and fulfilling life.
We aren’t robots, we aren’t perfect. We are perfect in our imperfections.
So if we hold the focus (mostly) of what we want, and we know NOT holding the focus is where the desire to hold the focus in a stronger way is born, then we welcome slips as part of the creative process.
And yet it’s the only thing that works as we work and create and build.
Emotional balance is key in building phases and that comes from having the kind of focus that fosters the truth: there is a plan.
There is a reason we are where we are, and our job is to remember that so we can see the windows to jump through to create what we want to create.
It’s how it always works. It’s how it will always work.