M. Night Shyamalan is the creator of some of the most mind-bending supernatural films ever made. So it’s not surprising that he employs unconventional methods to promote his films. But did you know that M. Night Shyamalan and the Sci-Fi Channel made a fake documentary about his life?
M Night Shyamalan and the Sci-Fi Channel created a fake documentary about his life in 2004 that mentioned a near-death childhood experience that led to his supernatural obsession. They eventually admitted it was a hoax.
The M. Night Shyamalan Genre
He’s made films about aliens (Signs), ghosts (The Sixth Sense), killer plants (The Happening), a murderous village (The Village), and a psychological superhero trilogy (The Unbreakable trilogy). Oh, and a series (Servant) about a creepy angelic-like cult that brings people back from the dead (we believe) and now Old.
It’s safe to say that Shyamalan has many stories to tell us, all equally bizarre. While all his films have that shock factor, the famous director wanted to stun fans before they even walked into one of his most famous films. He successfully elicited an emotional response, but he may have gone too far, almost sinking his work…with one documentary.
Shyamalan is a huge fan of the supernatural and horror genres, even if he doesn’t always label his films as such.
I make mysteries. So by the nature, you’re going to learn something at the end of a mystery, And so it comes inherently with the genre that I’m in. I don’t consider myself a horror filmmaker, so that’s not the genre I’m in.M Night Shyamalan, Filmmaker
Regardless of his feelings about his work, he is pigeonholed into those creepy genres, and it’s not surprising that he idolized other supernatural/horror stories, such as H.G. Wells. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 broadcast of the book is regarded as one of the biggest hoaxes ever. Welles read the book about an alien invasion so convincingly that listeners believed Earth was being invaded. (Source: The Things)
Why Did They Make a Fake Documentary?
Shyamalan collaborated with Sci-Fi, now known as Syfy in 2004 to produce The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan, which follows documentarian Nathaniel Kahn as he begins to profile Shyamalan for what appears to be an authorized puff piece at least until Kahn begins poking around in the director’s shrouded personal history. At that point, Shyamalan appears to pull out of the proceedings in anger.
Shyamalan was inspired to create his own intricate hoax to promote his new film, The Village. Prior to the release of Buried Secret, Shyamalan had been planting rumors in the press that he was dissatisfied with the film, which promised to reveal a secret that the filmmaker preferred to keep hidden.
The unauthorized documentary was shot on the set of The Village. It tells the story of an event in Shyamalan’s childhood that enabled him to connect with spirits, sparking his obsession with the supernatural.
After an AP reporter confronted Syfy’s president Bonnie Hammer at a press conference, the documentary and hoax were revealed. Hammer admitted to the hoax and claimed it was part of a guerrilla marketing campaign to generate buzz before the release of The Village. (Source: The Things)