Atlanta Blog FX Interview Interviews Stefani Robinson TV What We Do in the Shadows

Stefani Robinson on Writing for the What We Do in the Shadows TV Series

In the event you haven’t checked out the FX supernatural comedy collection What We Do in the Shadows yet (and you really, actually ought to!), rest assured that what you’ll find is equal elements wacky, weird and wildly hilarious, however it’s additionally heartfelt, poignant and socially related. Created for tv by Jemaine Clement, and government produced by Taika Waititi and Paul Simms, it plays with vampire mythology in a refreshing and entertaining method that provides the characters a appeal that they wouldn’t have, if they have been just bloodsuckers who have been trying to take over the world.

Straight off of her wonderful work, writing the “Barbershop” (Episode 205) and “Woods” (Episode 208) episodes of Season 2 of FX’s Atlanta, which have been two of the greatest episodes in a season of professional storytelling, Stefani Robinson went to work as a co-executive producer and writer on What We Do in the Shadows. During this 1-on-1 telephone interview with Collider, she talked about how she ended up on the employees, working with this group of creatives, how typically they have been stunned by how far they might push the comedy, improv on set, telling the stories in Episode 8 (“Citizenship”) and Episode 10 (“Ancestry”), and what it was like to tug off all of the cameos for the vampire council. She additionally talked about returning for Season 2 of Shadows, her experience on the writing employees for Season four of Fargo, having her fingers crossed that there will probably be a 3rd season of Atlanta, eager to develop and run her personal TV collection, and the function movie that she’s creating.


Picture by way of Ibra Ake

Collider: You’ve previously stated that sitcoms and supernatural tales are what you dreamt of writing, whenever you moved to Los Angeles. What have been the sitcoms and the supernatural tales that inspired you?

STEFANI ROBINSON: I feel it was much less sitcoms, and more the supernatural and the tone of What We Do in the Shadows. That was something that I did need to write, once I got here out to L.A., in no matter capability I might, however not particularly sitcoms. Growing up, I watched a variety of broader, silly stuff, like Austin Powers and that sort of high-concept huge world concepts that have been silly. It was issues like that, that I liked, as a child, and in addition just even more of the absurd, drier, extra European/British sensibilities. I was an enormous fan of The Mighty Boosh, which could be very absurd and really silly. It’s undoubtedly not for everybody, and it’s additionally very summary and surreal. It does really feel like it’s unusually inventive and in addition very endearing, however isolating. At the core of that foolish, it doesn’t take itself too critically. That’s what I beloved, as a child, rising up, and in addition what I responded to with What We Do in the Shadows, particularly.

After Season 2 of Atlanta, which frequently leaned more in the direction of drama than comedy, how did you find yourself becoming a member of What We Do in the Shadows, which is a way more outrageous comedy? Was it simply that the alternative got here up, so you took it, or was it a selected conversation about that show, in specific?

ROBINSON:  It was a bit little bit of each. Paul Simms, the showrunner of What We Do in the Shadows, is actually the government producer on Atlanta. He’s worked with Jemaine Clement and even Taika [Waititi] for a very like time, back to Flight of the Conchords days, and he had talked about to me that he was working on the What We Do in the Shadows pilot. Just as a pal, I used to be like, “Oh, my god, I love that movie! I love those guys, and I think they’re so talented and fun.” And then, it ended up being real and, fortunately, I’ve received an general deal at FX, and the show was at FX, so it turned a type of issues that was just super straightforward to throw myself into. It felt very natural and organic, and it was much less of a proper dialog and extra like, “Okay, now I’m working for this.” It was great. I used to be so comfortable to be involved because I liked the movie, and I liked Taika and Jemaine. And it was totally different than something that I had completed professionally, at the time. It was in all probability extra just like Man In search of Lady, which I also worked on, that was very high-concept and more of a sitcom, rom-com sort of structure. The thought of doing one thing that was high-concept, however silly, and that had loopy particular effects, and blood and gore, seemed like a enjoyable factor to jump into.


Picture by way of Sela Shiloni

It’s undoubtedly a type of exhibits where, each time I watch it, I feel that it’s simply bat-shit insane, however I really like every second of it and may’t wait for extra.

ROBINSON: Yeah, precisely. That’s good. I’m glad that you’ve that response. I don’t need to converse for anybody else, however for me, working on a present like that, and even placing that in the world, is such a breath of recent air. I really feel like it may be leisure in a world that may be bleak and drab. Atlanta Season 2 was extra dramatic than it was comedic, so even the comedies are grounding themselves extra in the bleakness of on a regular basis life, which is a really fascinating and delightful factor, when finished appropriately, nevertheless it was a terrific breath of recent air to work on one thing that’s just foolish, and is a distraction, and is just pure escapism, and is funny and goofy. I feel the exact same means, that it’s bat-shit, but that’s what I like about it. You possibly can just go on this crazy experience.

What’s it wish to work with and study from creatives, like Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Paul Simms? How do you find your personal voice, among all of that?

ROBINSON: These guys, weirdly, are so not intimidating. I feel that’s what makes them so great at what they do. They’re so open to individuals who already have a longtime voice, so I felt much less strain to be like, “Okay, this is how I’m gonna stand out.” It’s like they already perceive how I stand out, they usually’re accepting and inspiring of it. They’re the nicest guys, they usually’re so enjoyable to be round. Taika and Jemaine have labored together for a really very long time they usually’ve been associates for a very long time, so when the two of them are round, it looks like theater camp. It’s just two buds, hanging out and making a present ‘cause they think it’s enjoyable. We’re all enjoying gown up and hanging out with our pals, and that’s not the case with everyone, in my expertise. I don’t mean that as a very good or dangerous thing, it’s simply that these guys are so warm and able to play and be silly.

Whenever you do a show like this, it looks like nothing is off limits, as long as it is sensible for the story and characters, and you may actually push the comedy. Was there ever anything you wrote for the show that you simply have been like, “I’m not sure if this is too much, or if this will work,” or did it all the time really feel like there can be a solution to make it work?


Picture by way of FX

ROBINSON: There were multiple levels, along the means, where we have been all like, “Is this gonna happen?!” I didn’t write it, but in Episode three, Josh Lieb’s episode, with Laszlo’s vulva garden and the topiary that appeared like vulvas, we received the script and have been like, “Well, this is obviously gonna be blurred out. We’re not gonna actually see any of these.” And then, as it was occurring and we have been in Toronto, in manufacturing conferences, we have been seeing sketches and going, “Oh, my god, they’re actually gonna build vulva topiary. That’s gonna be real.” However then, in the second we have been nonetheless like, “Okay, if we shoot it . . .” And we did shoot it, but went, “There’s no way that they’re gonna air this.” And then, they did air it, which was loopy. We have been like, “Oh, my god, we’re getting away with this. This is crazy!” I feel that’s the largest instance. There were many little issues, the place we have been like, “Is this gonna end up happening?” After which, it often does, which is the fascinating thing. That’s the enjoyable of the show.

As a writer, what’s it also wish to be part of a show where it’s so unpredictable, in the sense that there is improv and the improv seems to be encouraged? How is the expertise of being on a set the place individuals shout out strains?

ROBINSON: It’s a lot enjoyable. It’s exactly what it feels like. We do as many takes as we will with the script, however then, the enjoyable of it isn’t only the actors arising with their very own take on what we’ve written, however it’s additionally us, throwing out new takes on what we’ve written. It’s so collaborative. That’s how Jemaine designed the set, and Paul encourages that sort of factor. We simply attempt to make each other giggle, at that time. It’s useful, once we’re in an excellent mood, as a result of a lot of that show was shot at 4 in the morning, outdoors while freezing in Toronto. There were a couple of occasions the place shouting out totally different takes did really feel tedious because we have been all exhausted and freezing. However for the most half, the writers and the actors are all associates, so it does get to some extent where you’re simply making an attempt to make a good friend snicker, and that’s so much enjoyable.


Image by way of FX

I actually love that the two episodes that you simply wrote because I feel they present such fascinating sides to the characters. In Episode eight, “Citizenship,” we get the loopy, supernatural aspect of issues with a brand new vampire making an attempt to discover ways to take her first victim, and that’s balanced with the socially relevant aspect of applying for American citizenship. What was it wish to stability two issues like that, in the similar episode, and what have been you most excited about, with telling that story?

ROBINSON: That’s a very good query. It’s enjoyable to do precisely what you just stated, which is discover the enjoyable, extra cinematic, genre-y points of the story. Once I first noticed the movie, I liked how grounded it was in the mundaneness of everyday life. Writing that episode, in specific, was really enjoyable for me as a result of I received to play with each. Probably the most exciting thing for me, on the present, is seeing vampires in everyday situations, so the enjoyable of a vampire in an immigration office simply makes me giggle. But then, the idea that when Nandor exhibits up, he’s sporting the basketball jersey and he’s thrown into an setting the place real individuals are just making an attempt to stay their life, and he’s the largest disrupter inside that. That’s so fun to see and write and play with. For me, it simply tickles me. That marriage of the mundane with the supernatural is the core of the show, however it’s also what I liked about that episode.

I also really liked Episode 10, “Ancestry,” because it really flips the script with Guillermo. He’s been this poor, maligned guy, the entire time, who just needs to get became a vampire, only to seek out out that he’s a descendant of Val Helsing, which is a lot enjoyable. How did that each one come about, and what do you assume that may mean for the character, in the future?


Picture by way of FX

ROBINSON: We simply stumbled upon it. It was one thing that was pitched early on. I keep in mind that we had talked about it and appreciated it since you do need to have Guillermo working in the direction of something, and I really like the misdirect that you simply assume he may be working in the direction of turning into a vampire and that that’s his final objective, after which flipping the script and being like, “No, your goal is actually to kill vampires.” It’s the basic conflict of a status reversal. It’s in all probability much more satisfying than Guillermo turning into a vampire, to have him develop into somebody who has the power to kill them all. There’s a dramatic irony there. And hopefully, going ahead, we will explore extra of that wrestle. The comedy of those vampires not understanding that they’ve invited a vampire killer into their midst can also be something funny to play with. Hopefully, it can pressure Guillermo to return of age and start making selections for himself, and start actually determining what he needs to do. I do like that conflict. I don’t know how it’s gonna work out just yet, but I hope that it works out, in an enormous approach.

I really like that you simply additionally snuck in for a cameo, throughout the vampire council episode, “The Trial,” as a result of how might you not. What was it wish to get to be a part of that, and to witness all of that going on?

ROBINSON: That was loopy! That was truly in all probability the trickiest factor that we needed to do while we have been in production. There are so many individuals on the market who have performed vampires, so we had successful record of who we’d want, and it was so massive. Reaching out to each one that’s ever performed a vampire was tedious, and making an attempt to determine it out as a result of we couldn’t get everyone there, at the similar time. We have been making an attempt to ship everyone scripts, however we didn’t quite know who was gonna be involved yet, so there was lots of writing and re-writing. At the similar time, we had to shoot our vampires chatting with someone, so there were a whole lot of back flips and scheduling and gymnastics that we needed to. However Taika directed the episode and did such an awesome job. Finally, he secured all of the people who we obtained, with the help of Paul and FX. I feel Taika did such an awesome job of creating that appear as cohesive as it does seem because it was very chaotic and there was numerous green display involved. Tilda [Swinton], Evan [Rachel Wood], Danny [Trejo] and Paul [Reubens] have been primarily chatting with nobody, they usually gave such nice performances and have been so funny. It was very impressive. After which, Wesley [Snipes] was my considered one of my favorite cameos, and we had to try this separately, just into a digital camera by himself. I feel it labored out and seemed great. It was chaos, nevertheless it was a lot fun.


Picture by way of FX

How was it to then make an enormous pivot and go work on Season four of Fargo? What was it wish to be a part of that group?

ROBINSON:  It was nice. It is a fairly massive pivot, however it was so much enjoyable. Fargo and Noah Hawley, and all of the writers concerned on that present blew me away with how gifted they all are. They’re very gifted writers, dramatically and structurally, but I used to be additionally so shocked at how humorous every single a type of individuals have been, including Noah Hawley. It was a blast to be around those that simply get it. You’re inspired by being around them, each single day, you’re excited for them to one-up your concepts, and you’re excited by all of their ideas. I’m so fortunate as a result of I discovered folks that can be my meant readers, for the rest of my life. I feel like I will all the time need to write with those individuals in mind because their suggestions and their sensibilities are so great and so specific. I used to be just continually blown away by how much they know, and how silly and fun they are.

What’s the speedy next step for you? Are you staying on for Season 2 of What We Do in the Shadows? Will you be on Season three of Atlanta, if/when that really happens?

ROBINSON: I don’t know. I feel instantly next is Shadows Season 2. Later this month (June), I rejoin these guys and we’ll begin speaking about Season 2 ,and then head up to Toronto and do all of it again.

And then, perhaps sometime, we’ll get more Atlanta?

ROBINSON: Yeah, who is aware of? Fingers crossed. It was such a fun, nice show that I’m all the time ready for it to return again. As soon as I do know, I’m positive you guys will all know.


Picture by way of FX

Now that you simply’ve written on a couple of totally different writing staffs, and also you’ve finished comedy and drama, and half-hour and hour now, is the next step writing and placing your personal pilot out there, and creating your personal TV collection?

ROBINSON: I feel so. I feel that seems like a pure subsequent step and I’m excited to jump into doing that, as soon as I come up for air. That, and working on features. I’ve [a feature] over at Fox Searchlight proper now. It’s all on the horizon, so we’ll see. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve obtained a reasonably loopy monitor document proper now, so who is aware of what’s subsequent.

I read the description of your Fox Searchlight film that stated, “It’s a period piece set in the music world in pre-Revolutionary France.”

ROBINSON: Sure, that’s right.

What impressed that?

ROBINSON: I don’t need to say an excessive amount of about it, however it is based mostly on someone in historical past, and it was simply one thing that felt Purple Rain-y, in the proper ways. That was exciting to me. So, that’s a enjoyable one. It’s very totally different than something I’ve completed up to now, so we’ll see how it seems.

What We Do in the Shadows will return for Season 2 on FX.


Picture by way of FX