Back in 2014, New Zealand’s top funny men, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, directed a weird little movie that would soon become one of the most revered mockumentaries, comedies, and vampire films of all time. What We Do In The Shadows’ hilarity and uniqueness made it ripe for an expanded universe, so the creators decided to look past the vampires of Wellington, NZ and move over to the everyday lives of vampire roommates living in Staten Island, New York for a new FX TV show.
And ay New York Comic-Con over the weekend, we were able to watch the pilot of the new American spin-off series.
The What We Do In The Shadows journey has been a long one, and the love Clement and Waititi have for its concept is palpable. It began as a stand-up bit where Clement would do hacky sets as a vampire while Waititi would heckle him from the audience as another vampire. This led to a 2005 short film they made on a $200 budget, which ultimately became the inspiration for the feature film.
Clement and Waititi’s popularity continues to grow in the United States, the former having just released a new Flight of the Conchords special while the latter became a household name after directing Thor: Ragnarok (and it’s not an easy name for Americans to pronounce, making it an extra impressive feat).
This weekend, fans of the actors/creators and lovers of What We Do In The Shadows were treated to a screening of new series’ pilot at New York Comic Con. Set to be released on FX in 2019, the new show stars Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, and Harvey Guilen with Clement and Waititi focusing on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the creative process.
In fact, the two joked during the post-screening panel about how much easier it is to be taken seriously as directors when they’re not hanging upside down and wearing goofy costumes. When asked if the TV show would get any appearances from the film’s vamps, they indicated it would take a serious incident for their characters to make the long journey to America.
However, at an earlier NYCC panel that focused on visionary directors, Waititi teased that audiences might be graced with some special cameos. It’s also worth noting that while sharing the stage with Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods, Bad Times at the El Royale) and Simon Kinberg (Dark Phoenix), Taika Waititi managed to make every single one of his answers into a side-splitting joke. Whether he was being asked how he incorporates easter eggs into his work or his upcoming film, Jojo Rabbit (where he directs and plays Hitler), the man was a nonstop joke machine. That kind of effortless talent should put anyone wary of an overly-Americanized What We Do In The Shadow at ease. Waititi and Clement very much have creative control over this new project.
While we can’t go into too much detail about the episode, rest assured the upcoming series will not disappoint. The show manages to stay true to the film’s humor and maintain the original style while introducing us to a group of new vampires with their own unique quirks and eccentricities. This is especially exciting because they’ve chosen to include a female vampire for the series. They’ve even introduced the brand new concept of an “energy vampire”, who drains the life-force of people by boring them. The pilot also features Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Neighbors 2) as an unlucky human and while it’s unclear if the show will include more of her, we’re secretly hoping she’s going to become the show’s version of Nick, who is the brand new vampire in the film.
The creators, including executive director Paul Simms, shared their inspirations for the show, ultimately packaging it as a This Is Spinal Tap/The Lost Boys crossover, which is a brilliant combination. They joked about “creating a universe to rival that of Marvel and DC” and that they were just “taking one idea and stretching it out”, but their ultimate goal is to “make it different enough and the same enough”. This may seem like a contradictory statement but it’s actually the perfect way to approach a film-to-television adaptation.
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