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SIGNS

About The Film
M. Night Shyamalan began contemplating ideas for his next film while still working on the postproduction of "Unbreakable." The prolific writer/director has developed his own process of filtering and refining his ideas. He explains: "Before it used to be, ‘Oh, I have a good idea, I am going to write that now.' Now there are like eight levels to my decision making." He has come to measure his scripts with a certain criteria: "An idea has to have meaning, suspense, emotion and humanity. It has to have a universal message that everyone can relate to, whether they're in India, Japan, or Philadelphia."

Though still relatively young in his career, Shyamalan has developed a very distinctive style as a filmmaker. His frequent collaborators, producer Sam Mercer (who produced both "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable") and producing team Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (who also produced "The Sixth Sense") agree that Shyamalan is a new kind of auteur, with an approach both classic and new. Executive producer Kathleen Kennedy likens it to "a kind of Hitchcock style of filmmaking to which he brings a kind of modern sensibility because he is still only 31 years old. Over his past few films, he's really defined a Night Shyamalan movie. People will recognize his style immediately."

Producer Sam Mercer agrees, "His films are psychological thrillers, and they are suspenseful, but what sets him apart from other directors is that his characters seem to be very comparable to the everyday person, which really heightens the anxiety, the emotional factor."

Producer Frank Marshall adds, "Night covers a lot of different elements in his writing and there are a lot of different layers to his stories."

One of Shyamalan's key ingredients for "Signs" was his attraction to "the beauty, the grandeur and the mystique" of crop circles. "They are really just a platform from which the movie springs," he explains, "but it is a phenomenon that has always intrigued me as a subject."

"There's been speculation as to whether these signs were done by some prankster or were in fact a sign from outer space," says Kennedy. "And that was Night's original concept – to combine that with a character who is clearly facing demons.

"Night always tells stories that have entertainment value to them," Kennedy continues. "This is scary and suspenseful, and has an aspect to it that makes people want to see the movie, because they know that they are going to have a good time. On the other hand, what Night so successfully does is he always has a subtext to his stories and this is about a man regaining his faith."

As in Shyamalan's other films, "Signs" incorporates elements of the supernatural to tell the story of regular people working through an emotional struggle. However, he clarifies, "for me, supernatural things are all metaphors for the human story." They serve as devices for "testing people and finding out what people are made of and getting people to say Touchstone Pictures' what they need to say to their loved ones. It's a kind of costume to reveal what's true about the movie."

Part intimate family drama and part thriller, the film begins with a family in a broken state as the result of a traumatic loss. Or as Sam Mercer puts it, "they have been riding a bit of a roller coaster in their lives, and some things that have happened to them have caused them to reevaluate themselves as a family. In particular, the father has had to reevaluate his faith. And in doing so, he's decided what is important in life and it is about him protecting his family."

It is crucial for Shyamalan as a filmmaker that his stories feel very real in spite of the<

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