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M Night Shyamalan Fought a Hurricane to Film ‘Old’ (Video)

Unable to get hurricane insurance, Shyamalan’s crew became ”experts in the motion of water and how many joules are in waves“

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, “Old,” centers on vacationers in a race against time to escape a strange beach before it rapidly ages them to death. And for the film’s crew, it was a similar race against time to finish production before an approaching hurricane swept away the beach where they were filming.

In a new featurette, Shyamalan and his team discuss their search for a location that would perfectly fit their needs for “Old”: a beach that at first seemed like a secluded paradise among towering cliffs, but would soon become a prison from which its victims can’t escape. The group found a good spot in the Dominican Republic, but there was a problem: they were forced to shoot at the peak of hurricane season during the pandemic, and Shyamalan, who does his own financing on his movies, couldn’t get COVID or hurricane insurance for the production.

The team constructed the wall that contains the guests to the beach — yes, that’s fake — and then Mother Nature took over. “We built the wall and then the hurricane came and the wall got taken out,” Shyamalan said. “We took a big, big risk.”

Compounding problems was the strict shooting schedule. The entirety of “Old” takes place in one day as the characters age. With hurricanes dramatically increasing high tides, the crew had to constantly maintain the beach to make sure that it looked the same on each day of shooting.

“We had to shoot the beginning of the script at the beginning of the day, the middle of the script in the middle of the day, and the end of the script at the end of the day,” Shyamalan explained. “We had to become experts in the motion of water and how many joules are in waves. And we had to learn all of that to know that at 2 p.m., we were going to lose most of the beach. We have to get this scene and that scene done.”

“Old” is in theaters now. Check out more of Shyamalan’s thoughts on shooting the film in the clip above.