Flight of vam­pires takes off

Amy Jack­man talks to Je­maine Cle­ment about vam­pires, sign­ing with HBO and dream­ing of in­ven­tions.

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Your film

opens next week. How did you and Taika Waititi come up with the con­cept of a vam­pire mock­u­men­tary?

We had played these vam­pire char­ac­ters twice, once live on stage and once at a dress-up party in New­town. We found it funny be­ing vam­pires and talk­ing about these long his­to­ries we had, ri­val­ries that had gone on for hun­dreds of years. We also wanted to doc­u­ment some­thing that you can’t ac­tu­ally doc­u­ment.

Did the fact that vam­pires be­came pop­u­lar help the movie?

When we were first pitch­ing it, it was good for fund­ing, be­cause people would go, ‘‘Yeah vam­pires are hot’’. I was like, ‘‘Mmm, not our ones!’’

How did you feel when it got good in­ter­na­tional re­views?

It was a re­lief. We spent a lot of time on it so it would be a shame for people not to like it.

What are the dif­fer­ences be­tween di­rect­ing and act­ing?

Di­rect­ing is like act­ing, but you are us­ing other people to do the moves. Then they add things you don’t think of. Es­pe­cially in What We Do In The Shad­ows, be­cause it was im­pro­vised around a min­i­mal script. We would tell them what they were do­ing in the scene, but get them to come up with how they were do­ing it and what they were say­ing.

What about act­ing in an­i­mated films such as

For that you get in the stu­dio, by yourself, and the di­rec­tor plays all the other parts and you do your bit. He does that for ev­ery­one. It’s such a lot of work. They change the script a lot so you end up work­ing on it over a year, but it’s only about a week’s work. For the first Rio, I had to try out the voice of bad cock­a­too Nigel and for the sec­ond one I had to re­mem­ber it.

How did you get the part of Nigel?

The di­rec­tor had seen Flight of the Con­chords and wanted a lot of mu­si­cians in the film. I turned up at this cin­ema and they showed me an­i­mated clips of Nigel speak­ing with my voice and songs from Flight of the Con­chords. It was weird. I was a bit like, ‘How dare you?’ But also it was cool.

Has your 5-year-old son seen the movies?

Yeah. When I had to go and record some of the sec­ond film he asked me, ‘Why’re you go­ing to Amer­ica?’ I told him, ‘You know the movie Rio? Well, I play Nigel and we are mak­ing Rio 2.’ He said to me, ‘No Dad. You’re not Nigel. Be­lieve me. Your voice is a lit­tle bit like Nigel, but he’s more like this.’ And then he did his ver­sion of it.

Where is your favourite place over­seas?

New York. It’s where we filmed Con­chords, so it will al­ways be spe­cial. It’s re­ally colourful and in­ter­na­tional. It’s noth­ing like Welling­ton, but just as easy to get around. It’s an ex­cit­ing place. What was it like when

was picked up by HBO?

With me it’s al­ways nerves. It was be­yond any­thing we had hoped for. We were no­ticed at Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val and HBO had a lot of re­ally great shows, like Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was one of my favourite shows.

How did you and Bret come up with the style?

Prob­a­bly our lim­i­ta­tions pre­scribed the style. First, there’s only two of us and I’m shy. The first time we played a gig was at San Fran­cisco Bath­house, which used to be called The In­digo. I was so ner­vous I couldn’t move my hands, so Bret had to play. I had per­formed for years, but had never played mu­sic some­where where people were ac­tu­ally lis­ten­ing to me.

What was it like grow­ing up in Master­ton?

It’s good, un­til you’re a teenager. When you are a kid it’s awe­some. You’re float­ing down rivers and things like that.

What was it like mov­ing to Welling­ton?

I was so ex­cited. I re­mem­ber sit­ting in Man­ners Mall think­ing I was in Lon­don or New York al­ready. It was huge. I came here a lot in the school hol­i­days. It’s one of my favourite places.

Is that why you still live here, rather than over­seas?

I set­tled here when I was 18 or 19. This is home for me. All my fam­ily and a lot of friends are here. It’s such an easy life­style and ev­ery­thing feels achiev­able, no mat­ter what you set out to do.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An in­ven­tor, car­toon­ist or an an­i­ma­tor. But I never thought of some­thing to in­vent. I’ve done a bit of an­i­ma­tion, but it’s pretty la­bo­ri­ous work. Do you have any idols? Lots of them – Bill Mur­ray, the Monty Python guys, Billy Con­nolly. When we played here a cou­ple of years ago there was a Hob­bit night when most of the cast came. We could all see Billy, be­cause he’s so tall and has all the white hair. It freaked us all out. At one point I couldn’t re­mem­ber the words be­cause all I could think was, ‘‘Billy Con­nolly’s here’’.

What do you think of the Welling­ton film in­dus­try?

It brings a lot of money to the city. It was re­ally im­por­tant for our movie as well. Our film was like a par­a­site on the back of The Hob­bit. We feed off the scraps – our crew was The Hob­bit sec­ond unit crew. We bor­rowed lots of equip­ment from them.

Photo: AMY JACK­MAN

Je­maine Cle­ment: ‘‘I al­ways think of com­ing back here no mat­ter where I am.’’

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