The Fourth Wall Podcast: Creating the World of What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows cinematographer DJ Stipsen and visual effects supervisor Brendan Taylor share how they created the show’s look.

DJ Stipsen of What We Do in the Shadows

The 2014 New Zealand film What We Do in the Shadows was an immediate audience favorite when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, so it’s no surprise that FX scooped up the television rights and hired the writing and directing team of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement for an episodic reimagining. The original cinematographer DJ Stipsen also made the transition to the small screen, and he and Mavericks VFX’s visual effects supervisor Brendan Taylor talked to us about creating the show’s signature look.

This podcast version of the interview we published at the time of the finale shares a lot more detail about how the world of this vampire comedy had to be created with such subtlety that it should almost be unnoticeable. “That’s how you know the joke’s gonna sell is if the audience doesn’t know that it’s an effect and just… believe that what they’re seeing is real or at least get into the mindset that what they’re seeing is real. If the effects start to stick out and you start to realize that there are effects, I don’t think we’ve done our job,” Taylor said.

Further Reading: What We Do in the Shadows Werewolf Spinoff

Stipsen admitted that it wasn’t always an easy job to light and film the dark atmosphere that the vampires in What We Do in the Shadows inhabit. “As Jemaine said to me a couple of times he’s like, ‘Look mate, I know we got to keep it dark, but as a comedy, I’d kinda like to see their eyes.’ So it’s a really fine line to walk because a performance is in the expressions as well,” he said.

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The Fourth Wall podcast seeks to allow creative people behind the scenes to break through the illusory “fourth wall” of stage and cinema to speak directly to the audience of their work. Our interviews with authors, composers, set designers, and others give voice to a whole host of artists we wouldn’t normally get to hear from. Subscribe so that you never miss an episode, or simply listen to our What We Do in the Shadows interview below!

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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi).