News

8 Things We Learned About the Upcoming What We Do in the Shadows Series at New York Comic Con

Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, and Paul Simms spill some secrets about their upcoming vampire mockumentary series based on their 2014 cult film.

by | October 7, 2018 | Comments

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 7: (L-R) Moderator Alan Sepinwall, executive producers Jemaine Clement, Paul Simms and Taika Waititi speak at the panel for "What We Do in the Shadows" at the 2018 NY Comic-Con on October 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)
(Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)

Vampires descended onto New York Comic Con on Sunday for the much-anticipated What We Do in the Shadows preview and panel event for the upcoming small-screen adaptation of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 cult comedy. While they proved plenty scary with blood to spare, the fanged undead brought in the laughs, too.

The sold-out audience at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan was treated to a screening of the series’ first episode, which is due to premiere on FX in 2019. The screening was followed by a talk-back with Clement and Waititi along with executive producer and writer Paul Simms. While Clement especially remained tight-lipped on the surprises in store this season (he wrote the series in full as opposed to sharing writing credits with Waititi as they did for the film), we’ve broken down the eight quick facts gleaned from their conversation with moderator and Rolling Stone critic Alan Sepinwall. Catch up below.


 1. The series came together with the help of producer Scott Rudin. 

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 7: (L-R) Executive producer Jemaine Clement speaks at the panel for "What We Do in the Shadows" at the 2018 NY Comic-Con on October 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)
(Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)

To hear Clement tell it, there was never really a plan to adapt or reimagine his film for the small screen until powerhouse producer Scott Rudin (who is attached to the small-screen adaptation as executive producer) saw the movie and reached out to him directly.

“Scott Rudin saw the movie and asked us to develop a series idea and pilot. It seemed like a good opportunity for me, because it means I wouldn’t have to pitch it. It would already be approved,” Clement said with a laugh.


2. The creators admit to taking creative cues from other projects.


When asked how the mockumentary style of the film and series came to be, Clement admitted that he and Waititi certainly took cues from classics of the genre like This Is Spinal Tap — plus standout vampire fare like The Lost Boys, Interview With the Vampire, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

“We’d just basically steal from a lot of things that we liked and put them in our movie and then take credit for it!” Waititi joked.


3. The series is set in New York City.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, international poster, clockwise from top left: Jemaine Clement, Stuart Rutherford, Taika Waititi, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham, Jonathan Brugh, 2014. ©The Orchard/Courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by ©The Orchard/Courtesy Everett Collection)

More specifically: Staten Island. While the 2014 film (pictured above) follows vampires Vladislav (Clement), Viago (Waititi), and Deacon (Jonny Brugh) living together in their native Wellington, New Zealand, Clement decided for the series, he wanted the documentary crew to follow vampires living in the United States.

“We wanted the idea that the vampires had been — maybe 200 years ago — sent to conquer America, but had sort of lost their way and forgotten,” Simms said. “They’d gotten to New York, and that’s where the boat dropped them off, and they never went any further and before they knew it, a lot of time had passed.”

“We discussed a lot of different cities,” posited Clements, “[but] can’t be L.A. — too sunny.” Detroit was also a possibility, but they didn’t want to step on the toes of Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.


4. Along with a new city comes new vampires.

TOAST OF LONDON, Matt Berry, (Season 2, 2014). photo: Kuba Wieczorek / © Channel 4 / Courtesy: Everett Collection
(Photo by Kuba Wieczorek / © Channel 4 / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Much like the movie, the series follows three vampires who live together: Laszlo (Matt Berry, pictured above in Toast of London), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Nandor (Kayvan Novak) — the former two are husband and wife. Also living with them is a fourth vampire named Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), who’s an “energy vampire.” Instead of blood, he sucks the energy out of his victims by boring them to death with mundane anecdotes and bad jokes. The office is his feeding ground, but his powers also work on his vampire roomies.

“We hadn’t thought about anything like that for the movie,” Clement said, “but when I was reading about different kinds of vampires, there was one that people mentioned as a real type of vampire that exists and that we all come up against.”


5. The pilot episode introduces various narrative threads to get excited about.

THE MAGICIANS -- "The Losses of Magic" Episode 303 -- Pictured: Harvey Guillen as Benedict -- (Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)
(Photo by Eric Milner/Syfy)

While tonally akin to the feature film, the pilot episode that screened at NYCC proved to be a different story entirely. The main action is put into motion when our central three vampires receive notice that an ancient leader vampire named the Baron is coming to pay them a visit from abroad, purportedly to see how conquering America is going. Nadja also fans a extramarital crush on a human who she’s convinced is a reincarnation of an old flame — one that she incidentally decapitated in the bedroom.

There’s also quite a lot of attention paid to the vampires’ familiars, particularly the sweet-but-fumbling Guillermo (Harvey Guillen, pictured above in Syfy series The Magicians). Laszlo has been his master for the last 10 years, and he hopes to one day be rewarded for his service by being turned into a vampire himself. He’s a bright spot of innocence in this household of bloodsucking murderers — even though he helps in this murders along the way.

“When I was writing the pilot, I was thinking that they’re all murderers, so you need someone to balance that,” Clement said of the character. “He’ll have to wrestle, of course, with that idea when he becomes a vampire — if he does — he’ll have to do those things, too.”


6. They will make their way off Staten Island and into Manhattan.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 7: (L-R) Moderator Alan Sepinwall, executive producers Jemaine Clement, Paul Simms and Taika Waititi speak at the panel for "What We Do in the Shadows" at the 2018 NY Comic-Con on October 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)
(Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)

Simms also teased that this series won’t just stay on Staten Island, but will venture out in Manhattan, as well; in fact, there’s going to be a whole episode dedicated to the subject, with Laszlo, Nadja, and Nandor coming face to face with some other unwelcome vampires.

“They sort of think that Staten Island is all of New York or maybe even all of America, but there’s a whole story where they go into Manhattan for the first time to meet the Manhattan vampires, who are a little bit cooler than they are,” he said.


7. We will meet other supernatural beings, as well.


Just like the movie, which featured werewolves and other fantastically nightmarish beasts, Clement teased that we can expect similar creatures in this iteration, too, saying that “probably some other ones you’re more familiar with” will show up over the course of season 1.

“Jemaine really doesn’t want to give anything away,” Simms said, chiming in. “But I think if you watch the show, you’re going to be very satisfied.”


8. But the question is: Will the vampires from the film show up?


The question on everyone’s lips, however, wasn’t whether we can expect werewolves, but if Vladislav, Viago, and Deacon will be making an appearance in New York. While anything’s possible, Clement maintained that it’d take a lot for those New Zealand vampires to travel the nearly 9,000 miles to the United States’ East Coast.

“Only if something really disastrous happens. It has to be of incredible import,” Clement said of the possibility of his Vladislav popping up later on in the series.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 7: Executive producer Taika Waititi speaks at the panel for "What We Do in the Shadows" at the 2018 NY Comic-Con on October 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)
(Photo by Kena Betancur/Fox/PictureGroup)

But Waititi did confirm that their new FX project does indeed take place in the same world as their film: “We’re creating a universe to rival that of Marvel,” joked the director of Thor: Ragnarok.


Tag Cloud

ABC Universal witnail teaser Tarantino Ghostbusters Box Office Lucasfilm Musical thriller Britbox FX Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper Thanksgiving Trailer DC streaming service anime Nominations crime PBS Cannes south america National Geographic DC Comics Women's History Month Polls and Games Winter TV cooking Epix blaxploitation Awards Tour Emmys Fantasy Election Tumblr 20th Century Fox American Society of Cinematographers police drama Rom-Com spanish language social media travel dragons Super Bowl YouTube Premium book space Western Song of Ice and Fire Year in Review GIFs Disney comic Film Festival Holidays Pop ABC Family See It Skip It MCU foreign serial killer First Reviews LGBT Fall TV Hulu based on movie GoT supernatural El Rey children's TV kids The Witch ratings Comedy Central Heroines DirecTV facebook DGA Toys Christmas natural history political drama justice league Masterpiece Logo Kids & Family unscripted Chernobyl ITV Showtime talk show Mudbound Starz award winner Premiere Dates crime drama latino Bravo Winners HBO Max Paramount boxoffice Reality TV Cosplay Grammys Superheroe sitcom Sundance adventure 2019 Creative Arts Emmys series Film anthology mutant Best and Worst RT21 USA mockumentary WarnerMedia Valentine's Day Trophy Talk 21st Century Fox tv talk WGN Lifetime Crackle finale Apple hispanic Musicals Food Network zombies binge Warner Bros. technology doctor who Marathons Paramount Network Mary poppins Podcast Rocketman biography CW Seed hist casting Drama Vudu comiccon Netflix TBS movies Walt Disney Pictures NBC Set visit golden globes Nat Geo green book The CW Mary Poppins Returns IFC RT History Syfy strong female leads A&E Writers Guild of America stand-up comedy Cartoon Network streaming Disney Channel LGBTQ 24 frames psychological thriller 45 Character Guide toy story MSNBC Certified Fresh Star Wars vampires IFC Films The Arrangement quibi E3 Binge Guide Acorn TV Nickelodeon dc true crime Pride Month 007 sports cats CBS All Access Shondaland AMC spider-man Awards Pixar Superheroes X-Men New York Comic Con Trivia docudrama festivals Mindy Kaling Amazon Anna Paquin what to watch harry potter ghosts SXSW war Schedule Marvel richard e. Grant Comic Book miniseries Comics on TV Lionsgate crossover CBS animated television VH1 ESPN TIFF VICE SDCC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina game show zombie cars romance disaster period drama Opinion Elton John nature PaleyFest Ovation Pet Sematary Sundance Now Quiz game of thrones Extras Reality Competition BBC Stephen King spain jamie lee curtis 2015 spy thriller First Look Sony Pictures TV Land discovery Amazon Prime Fox News Music Spring TV Interview History historical drama DC Universe CMT diversity Spike aliens robots science fiction Spectrum Originals theme song Freeform E! Rock Sneak Peek Watching Series TLC 2016 Black Mirror Adult Swim CNN spinoff FXX OWN Brie Larson Comedy composers adaptation Animation dramedy HBO Teen Family Star Trek GLAAD TCA revenge Horror BET Columbia Pictures YouTube Red TNT USA Network Oscars Esquire Infographic Shudder Amazon Prime Video Pirates transformers FOX Red Carpet Sci-Fi Action Disney streaming service SundanceTV Rocky NYCC San Diego Comic-Con Dark Horse Comics cinemax medical drama 2018 TruTV cops APB TCA 2017 Mary Tyler Moore politics YA Biopics Calendar Countdown Photos Mystery Martial Arts MTV BBC America elevated horror dceu crime thriller President singing competition Captain marvel Video Games Emmy Nominations sequel Summer Country zero dark thirty 2017 TCM cults Tomatazos psycho