The Guys Behind 'Flight Of The Conchords' Bite Into Their New Vampire Mockumentary
It's been over seven years since we last saw Flight of the Conchords air on HBO, and while we're still missing the musical duo on the tube, it makes us happy to know that the people behind the show are still making other hilarious comedies to fill the void. Jemaine Clement, one-half of the musical duo and Taika Waititi, who was sometimes a writer-director on the series, banded together for What We Do in the Shadows. It's a mockumentary about four vampire roommates who have to cope with the mundane after being alive for so long. Clement and Waititi spoke to LAist about their nearly decade-long journey into making a vampire film, their new HBO anthology show and what's in store for Flight of the Conchords.
If anything, Clement, 41, and Waititi, 39, don't want people to get the wrong idea about this film they both wrote, starred in and directed. "I’m terrified that people are going to think it’s a Twilight parody," Clement says.
What We Do In Shadows, which runs along the same vein as comedies like Best in Show, may be based more on old school vampire movies like Interview with the Vampire or Nosferatu rather than the ones films that feature vampires who sparkle like diamonds.
The film industry is already saturated with vampire flicks and the two are very well aware of this. Clement and Waititi first made a short film in 2005 of What We Do in Shadows and had discussed every year after that they wanted to make it into a feature film. But they were busy with their careers and put it on the backburner. In the early days, Waititi thought, "Nobody’s doing vampire films. We could become really rich and famous doing this," he says. And Clement remembers telling Waititi, "There’s going to be a vampire film that’s going to be really big—it's called Underworld." Every year, more and more vampire films would be released, until at one point when the first Twilight came out, What We Do in Shadows producer Emanuel Michael, told the duo that vampire movies are a hot commodity and the film could easily get funded. And that led them to actually getting What We Do in Shadows made, which they premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival.
The movie follows four very old vampire roommates in Wellington, New Zealand, which Clement equates to Seattle, Washington if he had to compare it to an American city. Petyr (Ben Fransham), the oldest and most Nosferatu-like member of their household turns a hip dude named Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) into a vampire, which changes their lives for the better and for worse. Their newest addition takes them out to cooler nightclubs than the lackluster, old school ones they've been frequenting, and teaches them how to make friends with a human—affable computer programmer Stu (Stuart Rutherford)—before their friendships unravel. We even get to see some rather civilized werewolves squabble with the vampires, with the leader of the pack portrayed by Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords.
What We Do in Shadows takes a stab at answering some vampire-laden questions we hadn't thought about before. For example, "How do you get your vampire roommate to do the dishes because it's his turn on the chore wheel—and he hasn't done it in five years?"
Clement and Waititi lament about their old roommates who didn't wash dishes or the ones who mysteriously lived under the stairs in their apartments. The two used to live just blocks away from each other and Clement remembers seeing the chore wheel (that didn't seem to work) in Waititi's apartment. They've been friends since college and first met during an audition where Clement was impressed by Waititi's air guitar skills for a skit he had to do. They bonded over coming from poor backgrounds, growing up in tiny towns, being biracial (both are part Maori) and being raised by single mothers.
"Out of everyone, we had the most solo mom experience," Waititi jokes.
As for calling each other BFFs, Clement would rather go with "BFSF: best friends so far."
They're currently working on writing an anthology show for HBO. They say that it will be done in the same format as shows like Black Mirror, but as half-hour comedy episodes. Each episode will have a different story and some episodes will have the same actors. Clement says the episodes could range from being written in the genre of a '70s sci-fi flick to a silent film.
As for Flight of the Conchords, it looks like they're still alive and kicking—just not on the TV front. Clement will be joined by his partner Bret McKenzie for a U.S. concert tour, most likely hitting the states this summer. They've been penning new songs together for the tour. "I started a song about two androids that are in love," Clement says, giving us a glimpse into what may come.
'What We Do in Shadows' opens in theaters on Feb. 13 at the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles and Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York.