This past Monday, M. Night School launched: The cheeky website is trying to raise $150,000 through crowdsourcing — asking just a dollar a person — to send M. Night Shyamalan back to film school at NYU. We spoke with the site’s creator, BBDO copywriter Chris Baker (@funkmastabaker), about what he and the other creators will do if they fail to raise the money, what could be responsible for Shyamalan’s creative downslide, and the negative backlash they’ve already received.
This isn’t Baker’s first contribution to the Internet: In October 2010, he and several BBDO coworkers letter-bombed then-New-York-governor David Paterson’s Facebook page, spelling out “Sign the Autism Bill,” and provided a tutorial on how to do so yourself on other profiles.
What inspired you to start the site?
I got the idea awhile ago, when I went to see Inception; there was a trailer that played, for Devil. I don’t know if you remember, but there was a video circulating [on the Interet] of the audience reacting to the title card that said “by M. Night Shyamalan.” The audience I was with just erupted into luaghter when that came on. I don’t remember when I sent the tweet out, but I said, “Does anyone want to help me build a website to crowdsource money to help send M. Night back to film school?”
That’s what spawned the whole thing, but my buddy Eric Roller said, “I’m in as long as we call it M. Night School.” [Roller also assisted with copy for the site.] Vanessa Castaneda did the whole design, I hired some programmers… It took a while for us to put it together just because we were chipping away at it when we could, on the side. And then when he got back in the news two weeks ago, he announced his new film with Will Smith [1000 A.E., also starring Jaden Smith], we said, “We’ve got to get this thing out the door, even though there are few things we need to fix.” So we launched it on Monday.
That’s fantastic. So what kind of work are you in? Do you have a connection to film criticism at all?
I work in advertising. I do a lot of online stuff, interactive stuff and advertising. I am not a film critic outside of conversations I’ve had with friends about movies I like. But I am a huge film buff. I’ve never really been an M. Night fan. I did like The Sixth Sense, which I feel like everyone likes; some peple even love it. It’s been so downhill from there. I think everyone’s grown tired of the over-selling of plot twists. It’s a case of being given too much of what we asked for. The first couple of rounds were great, but when the marketing boys in Hollywood broke out the beer bong we got sick.