From The Shadows of New Zealand: Jemaine Clement

Posted July 27, 2015 in
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What We Do In The Shadows – Jemaine Clement – Vladislav
Last week, we finally saw the release of the mockumentary vampire film, What We Do In The Shadows. A look into the lives of a vampire clan living in New Zealand and the daily routine they go through with the undead culture around them, the film earned major praise coming out of Sundance 2014, but only saw a sparse release in the states a year later. Last Tuesday, the film finally made its way to Blu-ray, packed with over two hours of bonus content that will make any fan scream in delight and horror. SLUG Magazine got the awesome opportunity to speak with co-writer/director Jemaine Clement (while in New Zealand, no less) about his time with the film, the release and what he’s working on at the moment.


SLUG: How do you feel about the reception the film has had in general? Are you looking forward to more audiences discovering it on Blu-ray?

Jemaine Clement: It has its own little cult. I think it’s fantastic. I look forward to hearing what people think of some of the strange extras we have on the disc.


SLUG: What challenges did you face while creating a real documentary feel without making it feel cheap or like reality TV?

Jemaine Clement: Sometimes the challenges are what makes something like this fun. Like, how do we make the effects look real without being able to have close-ups or special shots of them? Reality TV is actually one of the many influences on the style of the film, so we didn’t outright avoid it.


SLUG: I read you worked with a number of people who worked on the Lord Of The Rings films to create a lot of the special effects, quite flawlessly too. What was it like having them on board?

Jemaine Clement: Every day we would have our special FX delivered was like receiving a whole new bunch of Christmas presents.


SLUG: Do you have a favorite memory or moment from being on set?

Jemaine Clement: We’d talked about this idea for a long time, so it was amazing to first hire a studio and be able to say, “Wow, we are really going to make this silly idea real.”


SLUG: What was it like coming to Sundance last year and being one of the biggest films to receive a following after the fest?

Jemaine Clement: It is the first film I’d written and directed before, so I was actually very nervous. With TV, you don’t have to sit in a room with the audience. With live shows you do, but you can acknowledge if something is failing and the audience might forgive you.


SLUG: The bonus footage on the Blu-ray is pretty damn funny, but I can also see why you chose to cut certain segments. Is there anything you wish had stayed in?

Jemaine Clement: Yes. Lots of tiny little moments that no one would even notice.


SLUG: What scene makes you laugh the most every time you watch it?

Jemaine Clement: It is the last one we put in. It is the re-enactment where the werewolves help out a new werewolf brother.


SLUG: Now that you’ve done this film, would you say the Vampire craze can take a few years off to be replaced by another trope, like robots or ninjas? Or is there still undead life in the genre yet?

Jemaine Clement: Only Lovers Left Alive and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night where two great vampire films from last year. Like vampires themselves, vampire films will live on for centuries with the ability to change forms.


SLUG: Are you and Taika planning any other projects together?

Jemaine Clement: Yes, we are doing some short comedy ideas for HBO next year. We are also considering a spinoff film called We’re Werewolves.

  • Love Jermaine! Nice interview.