Five Favorite Films with Boy Director Taika Waititi
The New Zealand filmmaker on his acclaimed second feature, working in Hollywood, and his upcoming vampire movie plans with Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement.
How was your experience with Boy in the US? Did the distributors leave it alone?
They have, because we already had a lot of the prints. Which is great. They can't change it or cut stuff out of the film.
They can't dub over the accents...
Yeah. That was always a question, you know: Do we cut the accents? Do we put subtitles on them? But then I thought, "Fuck it," you know? It's like, open your ears. [Laughs] It's English. Isn't it a nice experience to hear how other people speak?
And how has the the response been to the film?
It's been mostly positive. It's good to be affirmed and have people say, "Yeah we get it, and this is good." A big thing for me, as well, is the kind of stuff I make I want to be able to show it to my friends and get their approval, you know -- I don't wanna be at a party with my friends and for them to say, "Uggghhh! You made What Happens in Vegas." I'd be too embarrassed. I feel like it's quite good coming from a place like New Zealand where you have all those friends to tell you that shit, you know. I'd rather do small films that a small audience loves, which could grow, in a style that I'm proud of, rather than a couple of shitty big films that everyone will go and see.
Have you been approached to do bigger films by the studios?
I've read some scripts that I've turned down.
Did they offer you a certain kind of film?
Definitely after Eagle vs Shark, for sure. They'd send me all the "quirky" ones and the romantic comedies. It's not even a romantic comedy. It's a depressing romantic movie, with uncomfortable comedy. They started sending me broad shit and I was like, "That's not me." [Laughs]
What was it like going from a small movie to doing something like Green Lantern?
How did you end up in that?
Well, Boy played at Sundance, and the casting director from Warners happened to see it and at the time I guess was looking to fill that role. So I came back to LA and did an audition, then a follow-up audition, and a "chemistry read" with Ryan [Reynolds], and then it just sort of worked out. I was pretty happy with doing it, with getting that chance to do it, but then I don't know, I feel like that time down in New Orleans kind of disappeared; it was like, "What happened to that three months?"
What are you doing for your next film?
I've got two. One of them is one I'm doing by myself, which I've written, which is gonna shoot in Europe -- and that's a World War II comedy. And then Jemaine [Clement] and I are writing a vampire movie that we're both in with a bunch of our friends, and that will be shot in New Zealand. So that's the New Zealand film and that's a hard one to get up and running because there's a lot of effects.
Is it a comedy?
It's a comedy, yeah. We actually came up with the idea in, like, 2005, when no-one was making vampire films and the only films that were coming out was something like Blade, or Underworld. We were like, "Man, vampires are fucking lame, no-one's into vampire movies -- let's make a vampire movie." And it took us five years to write a script and get our shit together... and now vampires are lame again. So it's kind of cool to come in at the end of the reign of the vampire stuff.
Are you directing?
We're both gonna direct and be in it together. It's just hard to make, really. We just wanna do stuff outside of studio control. Not that we're big studio-involved people, but just me having been in a movie like [Green Lantern] and having worked with studios on a lot of things, and Jemaine's done a lot of work in the studio system now... we just would like a lot of freedom with this film, and we wanna make it cheap. Ultimately our attitude is just that we wanna do it like how we would make something in New Zealand in the '90s -- by ourselves, with our friends, and just being left alone to do our own stuff and then showing people at the end without contracts and things going on and lots of people giving comments and stuff like that.
Boy opens in select theaters in the US this week.