Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement on 'What We Do in the Shadows'
What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious peak into the lives of modern-day vampires who are just trying to live their eternal lives in peace and darkness. Set in Wellington, New Zealand, the movie comes to us from the kiwi comedy duo of Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, the latter who you might recognize from HBO's Flight of the Concords, and as the villain in Men in Black III. The movie, which borrows from Christopher Guest's signature mockumentary style, is at times grotesque but often genuinely funny and at times moving. We caught up with Waititi and Clement to talk about the making of the film.
Why did you shoot this in a mockumentary style? We wanted to do a mockumentary on something that you couldn’t really film in real life, so it was a more natural approach to a quite well-established genre.
How did the idea to make a movie set around the world of vampires come about? Well it wasn’t at the peak of the big vampire craze when we started talking about it. That was in 2005. It wasn’t really scripted, so we just worked with some ideas. We started asking each other some questions, like, “When you turn into a bat, what happens to your clothes?” And, “How do you make someone a vampire?” Those kind of things.
Was there any sort of hope that this vampire fad in film would help you guys get the movie made? With getting money. At the time when vampires were the hottest thing you could have in film, that’s when we were looking for funding.
Did the films being released at that time, obviously including the Twilight films, influence the script at all? Yeah, a little. There are little references to it but we did have a part where one of the characters thought he was going to sparkle—and why wasn’t he sparkling?! It didn’t make it in the edit, but we filmed it.
This movie obviously has been compared to the films of Christopher Guest. Did you use those films as an inspiration? Yeah, absolutely.
With streaming nowadays it seems like the kind of movie that will have a wonderful life on something like Netflix and on people’s computers. Yeah. But because we put a lot of work into the special effects and stuff we’re hoping that some people will see it on the big screen.
Was this an idea that you ever considered shopping around in Hollywood to try to make it on a broader level or was it always going to be something that just you did? We ended up doing that on one of the most depressing days of our professional career. Because of the audience, some people were open to it, but when you say vampires you’re probably cutting out a significant amount of people. Vampire comedy, even more. But we did talk to a number of people but they wanted us to use certain people and we had our people that we wanted already.
What is your plan following this project? When you’re working on this thing and then a year later you’re finished? We’re writing together. An anthology for TV.
An anthology like something in the style of True Detective or Fargo? Like Twilight Zone.