Could The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs all be made under a microbudget? They could if they didn't feature big name stars and cut down on post production costs. The locations in the films could have been moved elsewhere. The strength of the story comes primarily from a strong script. The second scene of Unbreakable is a horrific train wreck. An accident that we never actually see.
Scott Spears says:
"What I love about Night's movies is that he is basically making dramas and then dropping a high concept on them. Here's a breakdown of the high concept vs. the low concept:Focus on the drama and interaction between characters. Use tension to capture the audience's attention. Don't try to be overly flashy unless the story absolutely requires you to be. If that's the case, save the story until you have a bigger budget.
"The Sixth Sense": A kids sees dead people. No, that's not the real story. It's about grief and accepting death.
"Unbreakable": A guy finds out he's a superhero. Nope. It's about realizing that surpressing your abilities to please somebody else will ultimately destroy that relationship and upon re-finding your strength, you become whole again.
"Signs": A family reacts to an alien invasion. Not really. It's about a minister re-finding his faith."
Scott Spears is an Emmy Award winning Director of Photography with 14 features under his belt.