Manoj Night Shyamalan’s “Time to Dream” commercial for American Express - D showed me this interesting video by namma Shyamalan ungle. One can see him talk about his work on the American Express web-site.
What is more interesting is the following excerpt from WSJ - MNS makes a good point on the movie experience in theatres. (Brij would concur too :))
Questions for . . . M. Night Shyamalan
Filmmaker Plays All the Parts
In American Express TV Spot
By SUZANNE VRANICA
March 8, 2006; Page B8
Sunday night's Academy Awards broadcast featured a slew of glitzy awards. But one marketer went to new lengths to stand out. American Express Co. ran a two-minute spot written, directed and starring M. Night Shyamalan, the director of psychological thrillers such as "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs."
Below, Mr. Shyamalan talks below about why he decided to try his hand at commercial making and why consumers won't see the ad running in movie theaters. Separately, John Hayes, chief marketing officer of American Express, talks about how marketers are under the gun to make their ads more entertaining thanks to commercial clutter.
WSJ: Directors usually start out doing commercials as a way to break into the film business. You're already a successful writer/director -- so why do commercials?
Mr. Shyamalan: I don't really do commercials. This was a perfect situation for the thing I was looking for. I have an author's type of relationship with the audience. You have to connect with them in different ways. For me, going on Jay Leno is not just the only way. I have done Leno but a certain amount of this doesn't always strengthen the relationship with the audience. I didn't get a big fat check and I am giving the money to charity. It has nothing to do with money. I would never do anything for money.
WSJ: The America Express ad you created doesn't seem to sell very hard. Why?
Mr. Shyamalan: For me, it was more about the lady in Minnesota who has seen three or four of my movies but isn't aware of who I am.
WSJ: The continued consolidation in Hollywood is likely to result in fewer movies being made. Do you see yourself launching an advertising-production company to make up for the lack of work? For example, film director Spike Lee film launched an ad firm.
Mr. Shyamalan: No, that is just not my thing. And I am all for less movies being made because that leads to greater quality. Even if it's one of mine that doesn't get chosen, that's OK.
WSJ: Madison Avenue often enlists celebrities for its ads. As a result, there are tons of diva-like moments behind the scenes during production of ads. Did you have any diva moments on the shoot?
Mr. Shyamalan: I said to them before I signed on "you need to know right away there are certain levels of integrity that I have and that is going to make this difficult." The one thing I requested was they can't play this ad in movie theaters. Movie theaters are a sacred place. We don't go to the movies to be sold anything. I want the theater to be a pure experience. My diva thing was protecting cinema. But the point is American Express was very responsive to that.
WSJ: Celebrities have always wanted to do ads for brands like Nike and Gap. Why do American Express ads?
Mr. Shyamalan: I really respect the "My Card" campaign that has used Ellen DeGeneres, Robert DeNiro and Kate Winslet. The spots are fantastic. I like the three of those people more after seeing the spots and that is unusual. The ad celebrated what was individual about those people like Ellen's free spiritedness. The ads remind us why we dig those people. I feel more connected to them.
WSJ: You wrote the commercial, directed it and starred in it. Did having such a big role factor into your decision to do the spot?
Mr. Shyamalan: American Express was very gracious in allowing me to have complete control of it. I just made a mini movie for them.
WSJ: Do you have a DVR?
Mr. Shyamalan: Yes, my agent gave me one. But I don't watch TV. My wife watches TV.
WSJ: The rapidly-changing media landscape has prompted America Express to try new types of ads -- from two-minute spots to mini-movies online. We are seeing just as much experimentation in Hollywood. You've been a very vocal critic of the recent simultaneous release in both theaters and DVD of the film "Bubble." Why?
Mr. Shyamalan: That's a long story that I don't really want to get into, but the short answer is the experience of seeing a movie in a theater is what I do. I make movies to be seen in a communal place where people sit together. When we watch something communally with strangers something happens to us. That is the art form that I do and it's different from watching at home on DVD. It's a wildly different experience. It's a higher standard. That is why you can't take the best two hours on TV and put it in theaters. It will fail. It's a higher standard and different standard. It's a different art form.