Since its debut at Sundance, the hilarious New Zealand mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows has become a film festival hit internationally, simul-spoofing the bloodsucker genre and the soul sucking narcissism of reality television. The creative teams behind all the bloody good fun are Jemaine Clement (HBO’s “Flight Of The Conchords”) and his frequent collaborator Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle Vs. Shark). Waititi and Clement co-star and co-direct with a script they wrote but didn’t show to the improv-friendly cast. Because of the prolonged nature of the improvised takes, they came away with about 125 hours of footage from which they hewed 90 minutes that fly by like a bat out of hell! The editing process took an eternity, with the post and VFX being addressed slowly throughout. Thankfully everybody on the crew is immortal.
The big-city housemates of What We Do In The Shadows yearn for virgin blood and someone to clean up the kitchen, yet they can’t seem to get the party started when it comes to the ladies. Their attempts to hit the town usually end up with an encounter with a rival pack of sartorially-challenged Kiwi werewolves, led by Rhys Darby. The vampire frat house includes the 18th Century neat-freak Viago (Waititi), who frets over the indelibility of bloodstains, the sloppy slaughterer Vladislav the Poker (Clement), the Lugosi-ish Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and the Nosferatu-like ghoul Petyr (Ben Fransham), who is about eight thousand years old and is best kept in the basement. He doesn’t like plasma TV. The “new guys” are boorish, newly-turned Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and unlikely human best-friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), a too-nice-to-kill chap who introduces the gang to the Internet and social media.
Clement’s fascination with vampires goes back to a childhood memory of Hammer Films legend Christopher Lee. “I remember seeing a bat spit blood which reanimates the skeleton of Dracula,” he says of the then-frightening image. The idea of vampires as paragons of uncool came when Clement and Waititi were in college in Wellington and showed up to a costume party dressed as vampires. “One of those parties where you get there and everyone’s too cool to have dressed up.” With What We Do In The Shadows, Clement says, “we wanted to examine life’s small problems, extended over centuries - questions like, ‘would old friendships survive, and how long does it really take to get over old girlfriends?’”
What We Do In The Shadows co-director Jemaine Clement is an actor and musician best known for being one half, with Brett McKenzie, of the internationally acclaimed New Zealand comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords. Co-director Taika Waititi formed the comedy troupe The Humourbeasts with Clement and went on to become an acclaimed writer and film director. His 2003 short film Two Cars, One Night received an Academy Award® nomination. His feature Boy was nominated for the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
I had the great pleasure of chatting with Jemaine Clement and Stu the I.T. guy (Stu Rutherford) about the film during the Toronto International Film Festival. Please click on the link below.
People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award - Toronto International Film Festival 2014
Jury’s Special Mention, Grand Audience Award: Best Feature Film - SITGES Film Festival of Catalonia 2014
Audience Award - San Sebastian Horror & Fantasy Film Festival 2014
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