2014 What We Do In The Shadows – Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s hit film based on a mock vampire documentary – started out as a stand-up!
Taika Waititi’s beloved cult classic What we do in the shadows, a mock vampire documentary that helped put the New Zealand filmmaker on the map, was born as a stand-up between himself and co-director / fellow actress Jemaine Clement. In 2014, the duo adapted their short film from 2005 What we do in the shadows: interviews with vampires in the famous mock feature documentary, which led to the popular FX spin-off, What we do in the shadows the show.
Waititi and Clement were fascinated by vampires in the media who grew up in New Zealand. In an interview with the New York Times, Waititi says he saw Love at the first bite at 7 or 8 years old, while Clément said he was terrified of Dracula’s scars when he was 5 years old. Waititi was interested in making a mock documentary, as the fluid and immediate nature of the format allows for ease of production. It wouldn’t be long before Waititi and Clement found a way to combine these interests – mock documentaries and vampires – on screen – but first, they played with the premise on stage.
Clement and his friend Bret McKenzie (his Flight of the Conchords partner) once performed a show in Calgary in which Taika Waititi performed standing as a vampire, and Clement heckled him from the audience, also dressed as a vampire. In the Times interview, Clement explained: “I stood up from the audience, dressed as a vampire too, and heckled him.“Waititi replied,”You’ve been heckling me for 250 years!So, the duo first explored the construction of jokes from vampiric conventions (immortality, for example) in this arena. When they developed the idea into a feature film nearly a decade later , they have remained close to the spirit of amateur camaraderie, undoubtedly giving the film its lightness.
The two New Zealand vampire lore experts have finally made the cult classic What we do in the shadows, and while Clement and Waititi may not have really felt like the professionals when making them, they certainly added valuable experience to the project. In fact, Clement described in the interview that he and Waititi continually educate their writers on what vampires can and cannot do. Their background as comedians allowed them to craft well-structured jokes, while their expertise and vampire experience as a small town New Zealander provided the content for these jokes in What we do in the shadows movie.
The What we do in the shadows The TV show is much less involved with Clement and Waititi, but no less creative ingenuity, thanks to its own writing team and talented cast. What we do in the shadows has its humble origins in a mock 2005 short film, which itself owes a creative tolerance to a stand-up routine capitalizing on the vampire niche knowledge of two New Zealand comedians. Looking at these debuts, it’s not hard to see how Waititi has maintained his unique perspective, regardless of the size of the production, and how Clement continues to deliver excellent comedic performances himself.
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