Artwork by Mehak Jindal
Entertainment 05 Jun 2024 4 MIN

Watch out, Shyamalan the Younger is coming to your screens

All about director Ishana Night Shyamalan and her debut film, ‘The Watchers’. Spoiler alert: she’s not just another nepo baby

Name: Ishana Night Shyamalan 
Pedigree: Middle child of blockbuster horror film director M Night Shyamalan, who said of his daughter that he “always knew she was going to be a filmmaker.” 
Claim to fame: The younger Shyamalan makes her directorial debut with The Watchers, which releases in the US on June 7, and hits Indian theatres on June 14. Following in her father’s footsteps, she’s taken to the horror genre. The upcoming film follows a woman who finds herself lost in an Irish forest, being stalked and watched by mysterious creatures. 
Sister act: Ishana’s older sister, Saleka, released her debut R&B album, Séance (yes, of course, what did you expect?) in May of 2023. The two sisters are frequent co-conspirators, with Ishana directing several of Saleka’s music videos. “It was an honour to shoot the visuals alongside such a powerful piece,” Ishana shared on Instagram in a behind-the-scenes post from the set of Saleka’s music video for the song ‘Graffiti.’ We are yet to see what path the youngest sibling, Shivani, charts for herself.  
House of horrors: “From the time I was able to watch movies, we were watching horror movies,” said Ishana, which is surprising to no one who knows her father’s oeuvre. These movies were “sacred” in the Shyamalan household, and helped shape the young director’s tastes and sense of identity.  
The prodigal protégée: Ishana cut her teeth as a director on the AppleTV+ show Servant, executive produced by her father. What began as a contributing role, directing a handful of episodes in the series’ second season, soon grew to see Ishana become the show’s primary writer and director. Before the nepo baby alarm bells start ringing, her father was quick to point out that he was the one who had to persuade his daughter—then a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts—to sign on to the project, sharing that she was “humble and worried a little bit” at the thought.  
Squaring the circle: Far be it from us to claim that Ishana is a one-trick pony. The first-time director revealed that aside from her well-established education in horror films, she counts Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki as a foundational influence, explaining that her directorial feature debut was also an exercise in trying to recreate the feeling of “wonder and adventure and innocence” that she felt watching a Miyazaki film. 
Flights of fantasy: Fantasy fiction lovers have a comrade in Ishana, who “was deeply into The Spiderwick Chronicles growing up” and “loved the Eragon series”. The young director professes a love of all things fantasy: “I’m a huge fandom girl,” she said. 
Good art friends: It isn’t every day that a young director making their feature film debut casts someone with Dakota Fanning’s star power—but that’s a helpful reminder of the fact that this is no ordinary young filmmaker. Don’t take our word for it—Fanning has been all praise for her director, saying, “She did such a wonderful job of blending the fantasy and the groundedness of the story, and I think she’s obviously learned a lot from a very talented person in Night. They’re just a real family of artists.”