Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far 13 Cult Films About Cults 13 Cult Films About Cults The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Taika Waititi Talks About Making The Smash Hit New Zealand Film 'Boy' & His Plans To Reunite With Jemaine Clement

The Playlist By John Lichman | The Playlist February 2, 2012 at 2:05PM

After screening “Boy” for the first time in the United States since January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival, writer-director-actor Taika Waititi had only one thing to say: “Thanks for watching this film in a space-age room.”
2
Taika Waititi

After screening “Boy” for the first time in the United States since January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival, writer-director-actor Taika Waititi had only one thing to say: “Thanks for watching this film in a space-age room.”

The room in question was the screening room of the Core Club in New York City, fittingly across the street from the Friar's Club. As for his second feature, which premiered back in 2010, it remains one of the better odes to childhood that's rife with '80s pop culture and features an unheralded star in James Rolleston, who plays the titular 11-year-old. The film follows him as he strives to get the attention of his ne'er-do-well father (Waititi) among fitting in, getting the girl of his dreams and seeing Michael Jackson.

“It stemmed from a short version of this film ['Tama Tu'] in 2005 that did really well,” said Waititi. “I was encouraged to keep up the theme of neglected kids mixed with comedy. I workshopped the first draft at the Sundance Writers Lab, then they invited me back for the Filmmakers Lab, which is in June. I didn't want to hang around with a bunch of kids so I submitted another script which was a film called 'Eagle Vs. Shark,' and I got to do that.”

Once he got back to “Boy,” he went to his hometown of Waihua Bay, and filmed in his old school and grandmother's house. “It wasn't a very unique upbringing in that town to be looked after by your grandmother while your parents went off partying. It was really cool—You were left to your own devices. It was a town run by kids. It was cool, you went off, explored the country and the beach,” he said. At the same time, the love for The King of Pop was especially earnest, which shows up in imagined dance sequences referencing “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and a nod to “Thriller,” which could be the best mash-up of Maori and American culture ever put on film.

As it stands now, “Boy” is one of the top grossing films in New Zealand despite not dealing with death or the decline of modern society, which Waititi acknowledged. “Making something bearable to watch without crying or being depressed about who we are. In general, New Zealand films are very dark, especially films dealing with Maori stuff. One of the most famous films is 'Once Were Warriors,' which is an incredible film, but man it's hard to watch. I know a lot of our films that deal with—I like New Zealand films because they're very dark with a black comedy slam on things. But there's only so many kind of dead kids you can put in a film without changing it up a bit.”

As for inserting himself into the film, he worked against the typecasting for most Maori actors (“it's either an alcoholic killer or a 'Last of the Mohicans' tribal dude who talks to trees and sees ghosts”) to his own memory of the local bad-asses: “Skinny alcoholics who were trying to be tough, who were essentially wimps that surrounded themselves with losers.”

The other problem he's faced? The accent. After asking the crowd how long it took to get acclimated, most said it was fine from the start, while one joked that it took 75 minutes. “We had debated the subtitles thing. We had a screening in Kenya and the subtitles really helped the English-speaking audience. But you guys are tuned to accents,” he said to the assembled room.

As for what he's working on next, it seems a reunion with "Flight of the Conchords" co-creator Jemaine Clement: “I've written two new scripts I'm trying to make. One of them's a World War II comedy set in Europe. It's my Nazi comedy. The other one, my mate Jemaine and I are writing a vampire film. Which we would like to make because we think vampires could take off as a genre. We feel like we've had this idea—for six years—where no vampire films have come out. We should write this movie! We finally finished the first draft, it's only 160 pages long. I just shot a TV show last year, a remake of the British show 'The In-Betweeners.'”

No titles currently, but as long as the humor remains we can't possibly see a problem with a vampire comedy from the guy who forgot his own final shot: a dead goat appears at the end of the credits, walking across lighted panels:  “Mm, a gag with the goat,” said Waititi, as the audience laughed. “Forgot about that. That's where we all go in heaven—to the set of 'Billy Jean.' "

"Boy" opens in the U.S. in limited release on March 2nd.

This article is related to: Taika Waititi, Boy, Jemaine Clement


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates