Directors John and Drew Dowdle Talk Devil and Working with M. Night Shymalan
Posted 09.14.10 by Ryan
Directors John and Drew Dowdle began their careers with 2007's still unreleased The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which then landed them Quarantine and Universal’s upcoming supernatural thriller Devil. The brothers explained to STYD how producer M. Night Shyamalan hired them for the movie.
"Poughkeepsie was one of the first movies [Shyamalan] watched in his new house with his wife who has a PhD in psychology," explained Drew. "They both loved it and hated it and hated the fact that it was the first movie they watched in their new place. Either way, it affected them and from that one viewing, it got us a meeting."
Brian Nelson took script duties on Devil, the brothers say that the movie was based on a "ten-page treatment" from Shyamalan, the first of a series of movies called "Night Chronicles" where Shyamalan supplies an idea for screenwriters and directors to make. In Devil, five people are trapped in an elevator, and one of the strangers is not perhaps human. John explained that the ongoing mystery was inspired by Drew.
We made a vow not to do the same thing twice in the elevator. Every time you get in there, you're learning something new. We created - this was Drew's idea - a spotlight of suspicion. You think it might be this guy, or that guy. To keep that moving at a good pace where you come back into the elevator you think it might be the other guy. Every time you get in there, you learn something new.
The brothers described working with Shyamalan as "a luxury" and enjoyed working on the "original" material he provided for Devil.
John explained that Shyamalan worked very closely with the directors.
He was great. Really cool. He'd watch dailies and be like, "Watch out for this" or "Keep an eye out for that." It was the opposite of studio notes. Go ballsy. Don't play it safe. Shoot it in a oner.
The other lesson learned was "less is more," ironic since the movie takes place in an elevator. "We covered some scenes more than what ended up in the cut of the movie and it's funny, we always found out less is more," Drew explained. "We wound up scaling back more because it made it all the scarier. You get just a peek."