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Taika Cohen and Taika Waititi, one and the same overachiever extraordinaire.

by emira » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:26 pm

Yippee, the surprise package on my doorstep is from @TaikaWaititi. My Kickstarter pack: Poster, DVD, Gang patch etc. pic.twitter.com/f5AXNHX3



see the note #love3# #love3# #love3#
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by caiknbake » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:42 pm

#love3# #love3# #love3#

/:) #blowkiss#
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by Amily » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:10 pm

Seeing these is making me so excited!! #excited2# #excited2# #excited2#

Love the note. #love3#
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by emira » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:47 pm

I'm doing some tidying up on WOT website and saving some links, interviews and what not from a year ago. There were many interviews I haven't posted then here, so I'm going to do it now. For safekeeping. :)

Taika Waititi - Boy

from Arts on Sunday on Sunday 11 March 2012

The film Boy broke all box office records when it was released in NZ two years ago. It was funny, it was serious at times - but above all, it was completely and utterly us. So how do you sell such a specifically NZ film overseas?

Duration: 8′57″


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by emira » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:46 pm

BOY -- Filmmaker Taika Waititi

From: Andrea Chase
Series: Behind the Scenes

Length: 11:55

Taika Waititi talks childhood, hero worship, and whether or not the Maori are one of the lost tribes of Israel.

Piece Description

Taika Waititi returned to his actual hometown, and his actual childhood home, to make BOY. The story, set in 1984, is fictional, but when I talked to him on March 15, 2012, one of the things we talked about was the reality behind the ficition. It's not just the eponymous character's abiding devotion to ice pops, but also his worship of Michael Jackson for reasons that had more to do with just his music, and what it was like growing up the son of a Maori father and Jewish mother in a small town in New Zealand.


Andrea Chase takes you Behind the Scenes of Boy with writer/director/co-star Taika Waititi. BOY is a film about hero worship, growing up, and novel uses for the ordinary kitchen spoon. The eponymous character, an 11-year-old being raised amid cousins and a younger brother by his grandmother, faces all three when his absent father, Alamein played by Waititi, suddenly reappears in the dead of night while grandma is away for a few weeks. As Alamein spins tales of buried treasure and his glory days as a member of the Crazy Horses gang he founded, Boy spins his own fantasies about the glamorous life of danger his father has lived as various adventure heroes. With the legend of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Steven Spielberg’s E.T., and the fanciful animations and digressions of Boy’s imaginations, the film takes a whimsical tone in telling a story about loss that is at once tragic, funny, and ridiculously heartwarming. Waititi directed from his own script and his efforts resulted in the New Zealand’s highest grossing domestic film ever. Trained as an artist. His previous work includes the delightfully off-kilter EAGLE VS. SHARK. He is also one of the inaugural recipients of the Arts Foundations New Generation Award.

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by emira » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:02 pm

Interview With Taika Waititi
By admin on 17 March 2012

The year is 1984, and on the rural East Coast of New Zealand “Thriller” is changing kids’ lives. Inspired by the Oscar nominated Two Cars, One Night, Boy is the hilarious and heartfelt coming-of-age tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson. The guy who brought the uproarious Eagle Vs. Shark to the big screen, writer/director/actor Taika Waititi, sits down with Sophia Stein to discuss his latest film, the importance of family, and growing up.

Sophia Stein: “Boy” is the top grossing, local New Zealand film of all time.

Taika Waititi: Yeah, I don’t know how that happened! Wasn’t even meant to happen, that was a mistake. Obviously you want your film to do well when you make one, and you want people to see it. Hopefully people don’t make films thinking, oh, I want to break records and I want to make all this money, and I want it to be a box office smash hit. Having said that, I was really pleased when it did happen.

SS: To what do you attribute the mass appeal of this story?

TW: I just think the film was really good, and I feel like people really appreciated that. It spoke to them because it was set in a time that a lot of people could identify with. It was also about kids, so modern kids could get it and identify with that. A lot of the older generation got it as well because it was a story about their children. The older generation knew the Alamein character — they were like, “that’s my son, he became the idiot,” and “those are my grandkids!” So I think there was something for everybody. Also, because it was a lighter approach to a serious topic — this idea of families and the disconnects within families, it was approaching that and not hammering people over the head by saying, “we’re terrible parents,” and depressing people about it.

SS: Waihau Bay is the location for Boy. Can you talk about your connection to that particular place?

TW: Well, that’s where I was raised. I grew up in the town that we shot the film. We shot in my grandmother’s house, and I went to that school that the kids went to, and most of my family were involved in the film. It’s a very small community of about two- or three-hundred people, and I’m related to most of them, so it’s a very personal film in that sense. But it’s not autobiographical — because the story is made up. But it’s personal in that that’s how I grew up. And I tried to keep it as authentic to that upbringing and to that time, as possible.

SS: You paint this picture of a “small town, run by children,” in a world where the narcissistic adults are oblivious to nurturing the “potential” of their children. Versus today, where parents obsessively attempt to manage every aspect of their children’s lives –

TW: Oh, God, it’s awful, isn’t it? If you have kids, you have to organize a play date – “oh, you’ve got play date from 3:00-4:00 pm, and you’re going to go and visit this friend” –- scheduling children’s lives, it’s just the worst. I’m going to be a parent in May, and I am not going to let my kid just do anything, I am going to be strict but … I loved growing up in a time where you went back home when it got dark. And parents were like, “I don’t want to see you until nighttime.” I appreciated that because it’s putting trust in the child to look after themselves. Kids hang out with a bunch of kids, and you all look out for each other. I feel that teaches you independence and social skills in a much more effective way than a parent always being there to guide and hold someone’s hand.

SS: Sometimes you credit yourself with your father’s surname, “Waititi”, and sometimes you use your mother’s, “Cohen”. What is that about?

TW: It’s just tax purposes (laughs). It’s really because both my parents are in the arts. My mother is a writer and a schoolteacher; my father is a painter. Growing up I was doing a lot of acting and stuff. And because Cohen is on my passport, I would use Cohen through school, and I was known as Taika Cohen. And then, when I went to live with my dad on that side of the family, I was known as Waititi. So I always used both names throughout my life according to where I was living. As a painter, I often felt like that was more the Waititi side of myself; I would be Taika Waititi the painter. And then, because I made my first short film in that area where I was known as Waititi, that was the name that was put on the film. And that film did really well and suddenly I had a career as a filmmaker, and now everyone knows me as Waititi.

SS: You made a short film about Maori soldiers in Italy during WWII, do you have any desire to make that into a feature?

TW: Yeah, I’m trying to write that into a feature. That film is called Tama Tu and it was about the Maori battalion in World War II, which is very famous in New Zealand. Again, I would mix comedy with the drama to make a sort-of comic look at the horrors of war.

SS: What do you hope people get out of Boy?

TW: Well, the first thing I want people to take away from this film is a ticket stub! And the second thing I want is for people to take away the experience of having gone to somewhere that they might physically never get to, because it’s a very remote part of New Zealand, and it’s a very special place that has never been on film before. The experience of journeying to this place, in a time that is now gone. In the eighties, where things were very different. But also seeing a very human story that reaffirms that we’re all the same – no matter where you are from, the idea of family and of parents and of children and the way that they try and connect, and the way that families circle around each other and orbit each other, and the great distances between these people who are supposed to be very close — that is actually relatable to most people in the world.

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:06 pm

Interview – Taika Waititi – Boy
Date: Wed, 28 Mar, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Author: Spencer Fornaciari

Spencer interviews director/writer/actor Taika Waititi from Boy.

This segment is also available on Stitcher, iTunes and YouTube. The audio version can be downloaded directly from here.
Also, be sure to check out our review of Boy from SIFF (2011).

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:07 pm

Maori Filmmaker Taika Waititi Revisits Hometown in ‘Boy’
By Adeline Sire ⋅ March 30, 2012


Filmmaker Taika Waititi grew up in a rural Maori community of New Zealand in the 80s.

He decided to go back to his hometown of Waihau Bay to film a story he wrote.

His film “Boy” is about the relationship of an 11-year-old boy and his estranged father, who returns home after spending years in prison.

Anchor Marco Werman talks to Waititi about his hometown and hiring local people as actors and extras for the film.

Read the Transcript
The text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to theworld@pri.org. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.

Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman. This is The World. The highest grossing New Zealand film ever was released in the U.S. this month. It’s called “Boy” and it takes place a Maori village in rural New Zealand. In the movie, Director Taika Waititi, revisits his childhood community of Waihau Bay. The year is 1984 and the story focuses on the relationship between an 11 year old boy who goes by the name “Boy,” and his estranged father who returns home after getting out of prison. Waititi hired children from his village for the film, putting a lot of trust in James Rolleston, in the title role of Boy. Rolleston lights up the screen in every scene. Here’s Boy, early in the film, talking to his pet goat/confidant named “Leaf.”

[Movie Excerpt]

The movie is shot entirely in Waihau Bay, a place film maker, Taika Waititi, says is still a lot like it was when he was a kid there.

Taika Waititi: It’s a very tiny little country town on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand which is another country on earth. I mean there’s probably about 300 people, the population of this town, and I’m probably related to all of them, so it’s quite hard to find love or legal love anyway, and I grew up there in the ’80s and you know, it was a pretty special childhood. The ’80s was a great time because I think adults gave kids a lot more trust and you know, they really kind of believed that their kids would be able to look after themselves without killing each other, and you know, it’s different now, kids will kill each other, so I feel that I was quite lucky to grow up in that time and it was a very innocent time and especially in New Zealand. I feel like the ’80s for us was sort of like our coming of age era, trying to find our identity, so I grew up in this tiny town. There was one store, one pub, and the school that I went to in 1984, the enrollment at the school was 30 kids, and when we shot this film there two years ago, it was 28.

Werman: I mean visually it’s kind of striking because you’ve got these cornfields right next to this beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Waititi: Yeah, it’s kind of an unreal landscape.

Werman: Yeah, it is. It’s an incredible place to grow up and a very beautiful place to shoot a film. So the film is set in 1984 and the story revolves around an 11 year old boy who is referred to as “Boy.” His mother died when she had her second child, Boy’s younger brother, and in the beginning of the film, the father is also not in the picture, but then he shows up. He’s been in jail, he’s been released and Taika, you’re not just a film maker, you also played the role of the father, so here’s that scene where you and Boy meet.

[Movie Excerpt]

Waititi: I’ve got to say I’m amazing.

Werman: It’s painful to watch Boy and his dad try and get acquainted again.

Waititi: Yes, yes.

Werman: He wants so much and his dad doesn’t even know how to behave.

Waititi: Oh yeah, no, this is a typical relationship where the kid parents the parent.

Werman: And despite the separation, there’s also some common ground for them. Boy is obsessed with Michael Jackson, for example, so is the dad, so the boy see’s his dad as a hero who can dance as well as Michael Jackson and the dad also sees himself as a kind of Samurai hero. Were these obsessions of your’s when you were growing up in the ‘80′s?

Waititi: Definitely Michael Jackson and all the pop references were obsessions of mine. I think we were all very obsessed with native Americans. You know, we all kind of loved the idea of what it was to be fighting against cowboys.

Werman: And were native Americans kind of role models for the Maori?

Waititi: To some degree, there was a point, I think the ’50s and ’60s, where because for a Maori, you were punished if you spoke your language at school and you were kind of brought up to be ashamed of being a Maori and so I think as a result, they tried to identify with other cultures and tried to latch onto other romantic cultures as well, and so the father character, he’s obsessed with like Samurai’s and it’s all about fantasy. It’s all about how you remove yourself from who you are right now and try and replace yourself with something else, and so there’s like three characters, the boy, his younger brother, Rocky, and the father, Alamein, and they all are engaged in this world of fantasy.

Werman: And really the movie is about these three people, a family getting to know each other.

Waititi: Yeah, getting to know each other, revolving around the replacement of this one very important person who died and how it’s affected them all.

Werman: Their mother?

Waititi: Yeah, and how they deal with the little pieces of guilt.

Werman: You used a lot of local Maori people in the film as we said. Tell us about the experience shooting there in Waihau Bay. Did you find yourself negotiating with the community over what you wanted to do with the movie and their, perhaps, demands and limitations that may be tradition imposed?

Waititi: Actually, it was all fine really. They were so supportive and that’s the first film that’s ever been shot there, and I mean they’ve seen cameras and everything, like technology and T.V. and lights and everything. Some people I think have an idea of what Maori culture is like and what rural New Zealand is like, and to some Americans, it’s almost like tribes and Papua in New Guinea or something like that. I did an interview once and the guy said, ‘so what was it like taking the cameras to your village and the elders seeing those cameras for the first time, you know, those soul capturing contraptions, how did they feel about that,’ and we’ve had T.V. there for the last 30 years, but yeah, so it’s interesting that just finding out what people’s idea of preconceptions of what Maori life is like in New Zealand, yeah. I think they really believe that we’re kind of living like 200 years ago.

Werman: You know, it struck me that we hear so little about New Zealand cinema, but one of the other best films that I’ve seen is Niki Caro’s 2002 movie, “Whale Rider.” Your film, “Boy” is a gem, not to mention New Zealand’s highest grossing film. New Zealand just feels like it’s quietly producing popular masterpieces. What’s going on there?

Waititi: We don’t make many films though. You know, we only make like six or seven films a year and you probably hear about one every three years so [inaudible].

Werman: That really wasn’t a bad hit rate.

Waititi: It’s pretty good, yeah, yeah. I mean interestingly, most of the films that do travel, Maori stories, I just think they’re more interesting, and this film did incredibly well back home and I think it really proves that people want to see themselves on screen. You know, they want to see their own stories being told and New Zealand cinema in general is known to be quite dark. You know, we’re sort of like the island of the South Pacific. We’re very isolated, it’s very hard to escape, so generally what we’re known for is films like, “Once We Were Warriors,” which is basically people just getting drunk and killing each other, and then things like, “Whale Rider” which is another way of looking at Maori culture, the more spiritual, and that kind of film really solidifies people’s idea that we just spend all our time riding animals and talking to ghosts…

Werman: Consulting the elders.

Waititi: Yeah, exactly, what do the elders think, and then you have, “Boy” which again is trying to change the angles.

Werman: You live in Los Angeles with about a month a year in New Zealand. How hard was it in making “Boy,” to tap into the authenticity of Waihau Bay? Seems like it would be…

Waititi: Well, I’m from there, so it was pretty easy to just, you know, I wrote the whole thing, making it like having a fictional narrative, but then painting it against a very real backdrop, putting this sort of weird disconnected family story against that, and I felt a duty anyway to make it authentic, because everyone from there is going to know if I’m like putting stuff in that wasn’t, you know…

Werman: Right.

Waititi: …wasn’t happening then, like, so everyone could recognize the fierce microwave in the neighborhood and things like that or like the fact that we all started our cows with like teaspoons and things.

Werman: Taika Waititi, great to meet you. Thanks for coming in.

Waititi: Thank you for having me.

Werman: By the way, check out our video of Taika Waititi explaining why he thinks New Zealand is the Iceland of the South Pacific. That’s at theworld.org. This is PRI.

Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at theworld@pri.org.


PRI's The World


Filmmaker Taika Waititi talks about the tribe he belongs to in New Zealand
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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:28 pm

Reddit IAmA first and second session.



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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:42 pm

New Zealand director Taiki Waititi makes his mark with ’Boy’
by Jake Mulligan

Monday Apr 2, 2012

He may not be a household name yet, but Taika Waititi is poised to become one of the most exciting talents in film comedy today.

After being nominated in 2003 for an Oscar for his short film "Two Cars, One Night," Waititi turned heads with both his debut feature "Eagle vs. Shark" and writing and directing episodes of the cult classic TV show "Flight of the Conchords." Variety picked him as one of the "ten new directors to watch in 2007." Last summer he appeared in the film "The Green Lantern" and, more recently, directed episodes of the hit New Zealand series "Super City" starring New Zealand music/comedy icon Madeleine Sami.

But it is his film "Boy" (opening now in limited theaters) that truly solidifies him as a must-watch filmmaker. The film, a coming-of-age story about a young adolescent who’s forced to make terms with the sudden reappearance of his even more immature father (played by Waititi himself), is earnest, zany, and altogether beautiful. The New Zealand film scene may not be one of the most prolific, but Waititi is trying his best to change that.

And he’s starting by going on a press tour with "Boy," which is finally opening over two years after it premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. After an incredibly awkward Q+A session after a screening at Boston’s Kendall Square Cinema (where much of the audience couldn’t see nor hear Waititi, thanks to the lack of microphones and house lights,) he sat down to talk with EDGE at a roundtable with other film writers.

Funny, upbeat, and willing to discuss anything; Waititi displayed the charm inherent in every second of his film. His creativity is impossible to deny - he even couldn’t help himself from spending the interview doodling an outline of a man’s face, later placing his sunglasses over the very eyes he had just drawn. A man who’s truly working from a place of personal inspiration, Taika talked to us about everything from "E.T." - from which his film "Boy" opens with a quote - to the difficulties of shooting on film and with children.

Loves E.T.; hates H.D.

EDGE: So do you love "E.T." as much as your characters do?

Taika Waititi: I do! I saw it like 10 times! Well like, I think the parallels in the story really came after I written it. Like later on I worked it out, "oh, I wrote E.T." The dad is like this weird alien that crash lands into town, and only the kids can see him... we even shot a version where he leaves at the end. And I was like, man, I ripped off "E.T."!

EDGE: You mentioned at the Q+A last night that your opinion of New Zealand’s national cinema is pretty low; what kind of things were you watching growing up there?

Taika Waititi: To go to the movies was a two-hour drive. But now and then people would drive through with a film print of something obscure; they’d just set up a shitty projector. I remember we watched "Love at First Bite," I think it was - the campy vampire film. And I remember seeing that film [projected on] a boatshed, and there was like 40 of us kids watching the print being projected on the back wall. That was like a big deal for us.

EDGE: While we’re on the topic, I want to thank you for shooting your movie on film; it’s a practice that has gotten so rare nowadays.

Taika Waititi: Yeah, we we’re shooting on Kodak - one of the last ones, probably. Which is such a shame. I have two films coming up - one of them is definitely going to be shot on HD-video, but the other one I’m determined to shoot on film. But it’s getting harder, you know? Fuji, I guess. Kodak will be impossible now. Because I’m watching HD stuff, and I really, really don’t like it. HD video - it just ruins the way it looks. Everything looks like a really bad Columbian soap opera.

Truffaut influences

EDGE: You’ve been working on "Boy" for a long time, but you made "Eagle vs. Shark" in the meantime. How’d that come about?

Taika Waititi: Well... 2005 was a very good year. I made "Two Cars, One Night" the year before, and it made it to the Oscars in 2005. I had written "Boy" the year before, and it made it to the Sundance Writer’s Lab. I thought, I really don’t want to work with children on my first film. But also, I cared so much about the story that I didn’t want to screw it up. You know, it’s like short story writers don’t always make the best novelists? And short filmmakers don’t always make the best feature filmmakers. So I wanted to learn how to make a feature first; something I could experiment on. So I got all my theater buddies, and we made "Eagle vs. Shark." And then a year-and-a-half later, after I learned everything on that first feature, I came back to "Boy" and wrote for another nine months, then we shot that.

EDGE: "Boy" definitely comes out of a tradition of lyrical, expressive coming-of-age films. Was there anything in particular that influenced you?

Taika Waititi: There are some obvious influences for film students, I think. [laughs] "The 400 Blows," one of the first French films I ever saw, was a big one. The beginning of the film is inspired by the beginning of "Jules and Jim." There’s stuff inspired by Ozu; mainly in the angles, like at the dinner table. And "The Graduate," I think, somehow. It’s an influence on me just as a filmmaker. "Badlands" was also a big influence on the film.

Outlaws in denim

EDGE: Really?

Taika Waititi: Yeah. Like there’s this shot of the car driving, and it’s one of the same shots of Kit driving Holly - one of my favorite shots. And then you know things like the cornfields, the landscapes, the nature. And also the Dad is sort of similar to Kit in a way. Kit bases who he is on James Dean, and Alamein bases it on samurais...

EDGE: They’re both outlaws.

Taika Waititi: Right! Outlaws in denim.

EDGE: It’s definitely got the dense editing of the French New Wave, of films like "Jules and Jim." I was amazed by how much information you fit in before we even get to the title card.

Taika Waititi: Yeah, I wanted to set-up where this is, and what kind of community this is, like, very fast. Because there’s a bigger story. And then I like the idea of having a fake voiceover. You know how films fall into voiceover now: "this is a story about me growing up." One of my pet peeves in film is when something happens, you get a freeze frame, [and then a voiceover]: "that’s me." Like, ugh, God. [laughs] "Marley and Me" did that. Gross. So I wanted the fake voiceover - you realize it’s just a speech at school. And you never hear from it again.

Too mean?

[At this point, another journalist complains that Waititi’s character, Alamein, was "too mean."]

Taika Waititi: It’s the character, you know? He is who he is. I grew up around a lot of guys like that. Who were living fantasies. But for me, it’s more interesting. I don’t want to see a nice guy. I don’t think that’s challenging enough, especially when we’re talking about a kid who fantasizes all this stuff about who his Dad is. If he comes back, and he lives up to that, then there’s no conflict. He could’ve been softer, but to me it’s very important that - and this is probably a personal taste thing - but I feel like characters like that, where you can understand where his inadequacies are coming from, I find that really interesting. It all comes from guilt, fear, wanting to be wanted, wanting to be a hero, wanting to be loved. You know, people aren’t born assholes. Well, maybe Hitler. But no one really. Things contribute to people becoming that way. I’m very defensive of those type of characters.

EDGE: The film, despite dealing with some very heavy topics, manages to keep up an incredibly comic feeling. What’s it like trying to find that tone?

Taika Waititi: What’s difficult is finding the balance. Sometimes we would shoot a ’serious’ version and a ’comic’ version [of each specific scene] and then just play with them in the edit. With a film like this, there’s a huge danger of getting to the halfway point, and feeling like "oh, drama time." But Life is up and down, all the time. It’s always comedy and drama, every day. Unless you’re like, a child soldier in Africa - but I bet even they find a way to have some fun. And that, for me, is like a real film - a balance. Being hurt, being emotional, and finding the light against the darkness. So, the edit, figuring that out, it was like 6 months.

EDGE: And it’s got that great, slowed-down island feel...

Taika Waititi: Oh yeah. That’s totally real. Even still today, there’s no cell phone coverage, no internet. We were there shooting for like 3 months. I checked my email like twice a week. Everything drops away.

People freaked out when they first got there, the crew. Like "no cell phones?!?" And the nearest city is two hours away, the nearest policeman is 45 minutes away. There’s only one for the entire area. So you know - you accept that you’re there, and within a couple weeks you’re loving it. It makes for a very chilled out shooting environment.

"Boy" is currently playing in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington DC, Monterrey, CA, and Boston. It opens wider across the United States throughout April. For more information, visit the film’s website.

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:48 pm

New Zealand’s King of Cinema: An Interview with Taika Waititi

Written by Bryan Sih
Published Apr 4, 2012

“I must admit, this is terribly awkward for me.”

Taika Waititi is trying to lead a Q&A at Kendall Cinema, and can’t seem to foster discussion over his film Boy, which was just screened. A general approval seems to drift across the room, but the audience remains silent. No questions are posed. Perhaps they are in awe. But Taika Waititi lets them know how out of place he feels.

This type of honesty and matter-of-factness carries over into Waititi’s wonderful film Boy, set in New Zealand. Boy is the main character whose father, Alamein, comes home after a long absence. Boy imagined his father to be a modern conquistador, but when the father arrives, he is really just a burned-out ex-convict, fresh out of jail and leading a two-man gang of losers. Boy, the oldest son, must learn to live with the father while caring for his siblings, particularly his younger brother, Rocky, who thinks he possesses magic power. Rocky also feels guilty about the death of their mom, who died giving birth to him. Waititi compares the film to E.T.: “The dad is the alien that crashes into the town, and only the kids can see him.”

The MUSE had a chance to sit down with Waititi to discuss Boy and delve into his philosophies on filmmaking. The conversation, unsurprisingly, was much more productive than the past night’s Q&A.

Waititi quickly writes off the film as being autobiographical. He describes it as “a fictional narrative set against a very authentic and autobiographical background…that’s what it looked like in the eighties, that’s what the kids were wearing and the music we were listening to.”

He also claims that the 80s was “the greatest decade of them all.”

Waititi grew up on a farm during that time. He becomes excited as he talks about his unique childhood, which leads to quirky material for his film.

“Out in the country gets very bad reception and when shows were on, we had to send a kid up onto the roof to mess around with the antennae and say, ‘Hold it there. Hold it!’” There were only two channels available during his childhood. Now in 2012, there are six channels available in all of New Zealand. The sad state of New Zealand television may have given rise to a microwave being jokingly referred to as a TV in the film. In fact, the microwave may prove to be even more useful, as Boy uses it to melt bronze doorknobs as the melted bronze would provide money for his father. This quirky humor is easily Waititi’s strong suit in the film.

Another fabulous moment of humor and truth comes in the line about potheads: “They laugh at nothing and cry at everything.” Waititi admitted he was very proud of that line.

“I was told to write what you know,” says Waititi. “As a movie, you have to make things more interesting and have characters do crazy things.”

Waititi believes in this calculated approach to him writing a compelling story, but when it comes to directing, he believes instinct should take over.

“It really comes down to moment-to-moment decisions you make that are of personal taste… Film is a complete series of compromises. Your vision is threatened all the time. The skill in directing is picking your battles and then recognizing that these things don’t mess with the heart or core of the story.”

Waititi may be disarmingly hilarious, but when he speaks of his films, his words hold great sentiment. He particularly feels empathetic towards the father character.

“There are thousands and millions of people in the world that just want to be loved. And they deal with it in very different ways. Some become major assholes, some become recluses, and [Alamein] is one of the guys who’s dealt with it in a negative way.”

Due to the father’s harsh disposition, the film vacillates between humor and tragedy. Waititi adamantly defends the right for a film to be both. With this belief comes a hard balance to strike, which Waititi was very aware of while on set.

“Sometimes we would shoot a serious version and a comic version [of a scene] and find the best one in the edit.”

This unique approach to shooting a scene makes perfect sense to Waititi.

“Life is up and down all the time– it’s comedy and drama everyday,” he shares. “That for me is a real film, when there is a balance of being hurt, being emotional and finding the lightness.”

Waititi could be a New Zealand parallel of Woody Allen. His quirky style and humor is coupled with his ability to act in a film that he also wrote and directed. Waititi took on the role of Alamein when the potential actor couldn’t portray the character the way Waititi required.

“I thought I was pretty reliable,” he jokes. “We set up a system where we’d block the scene and then I would go away to forget about what things looked like and think about what I was going to do…That time [away from the set] got shorter and shorter as we fell into a rhythm… At other times, I was directing as my character.”

The characters in the film are lovably flawed, and always experiencing the world in entertaining and fantastical ways. The father strikes a delicate pose between the disciplinarian and father-who’s-also-your-best-friend. The kids admire him, and then grow angry with him as he fails to meet their lofty expectations. But Alamein fails at even the most fundamental level— as a father.

The disparate generations are only united through their keen ability to fantasize. Each character has reappearing inventions to his stark reality:

“Rocky has a more innocent and simple fantasy, like a reinterpretation of the world around him, and it therefore makes sense to have him draw,” says Waititi. “Boy’s was more advanced. He’s really imagining fantasies as real life, so we used live-action cutaways. Alamein’s fantasies are manifested in the physical world.”

These fantasies make life a little more livable and compensate for things the characters wish they had. But when the fantasies run dry, the characters must console themselves in the real world, and their needs always stem from the need to be loved, as Waititi stated earlier. His films, therefore, seem to rest not on the question of what people want, but how they go about getting it. And indeed, Boy portrays our less-productive means of finding love and acceptance, in all its humor and tragedy.

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:55 pm

New Zealand hit comedy “Boy” comes to U.S. theaters

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Though he is likely best known to United States audiences for his work on Flight of the Conchords, Taika Waititi is becoming a comic legend in his native New Zealand. Following the success of his 2007 romantic comedy Eagle vs Shark, Waititi had even more success with Boy, a nostalgic childhood comedy that has won pretty much every award in New Zealand. As the most celebrated and successful local film in New Zealand history, Boy has finally reached American audiences, opening in more and more theaters each week.

Set in 1984, Boy is about an 11-year-old boy named Boy (James Rolleston), who balances the responsibility of taking care of his peers while applying lingering childlike fantasies onto the real world. His obsessions with pop cultural trends of the time such as Michael Jackson‘s Thriller and E.T., coupled with his innocent stories about his estranged father Alamein (played by Waititi) being a war hero and his brother’s magical powers, make for some comical moments. Though Boy is initially delighted when his father randomly returns, it quickly becomes apparent that Alamein is as deluded about his own heroism as Boy is. While this situation would normally be a sad one, the absurdity of it all is very comical in Boy.

As the film opens in more U.S. cities today, Wititi takes a moment to talk to Wrestling with Pop Culture about Boy‘s influences and success.

Boy deals a lot with how a child’s imagination is projected onto reality. As a result, many situations that might be sad and depressing become absurdly comical.

Yeah. One of the hardest things with this type of film is trying to find a balance between the drama and the comedy. New Zealand is known more for films that are darker in content. With a lot of the films we’ve made before, in a film like this one of the kids would be dead by the end. We always tend to hone in on the more depressing elements of kids looking after themselves and parent/child relationships.

I wanted to kind of move away from that and make an entertaining film that has light moments. And those light moments, I think, really shine out against the dark moments. The fantasy thing was very important to me with the three Boy characters: Boy, Rocky and the dad. They’re all trying to deal with what’s going on in their world surrounding the death of this woman and all of them are projecting fantasy onto reality to try and deal with what happened, to justify what happened, to cope with the feeling of abandonment or just to move away from the guilt. Rocky’s fantasies manifest in the drawings and the very simple ways he sees what’s going on in the real world. Boy is a little bit more advanced, so he has live-action cutaways and flashbacks, some of them are real, some are not, so it’s a blur. Alamein’s fantasies show themselves in the real world and the physical way he presents himself – changing his hair and his jacket, the way he looks, changing his name. He’s constantly trying to remove himself from who he really is, to absolve himself in some sort of way.

I like his throne with the antlers strategically placed directly behind his head so they appear to be coming out of his head.

Boy (James Rolleston) aspires to be like his father.

Yeah, exactly. It’s like, “I’m going to be a king now.” It’s this lunatic loser way of elevating your status by surrounding yourself with very low status and weak people.

The story was inspired somewhat by your own childhood experiences and it was actually filmed in the house where you grew up.

Yeah. That was my house it was shot in and I went to that school, so I grew up with a lot of kids. There was a certain degree of freedom, in the ’80s especially, that you don’t see kids getting these days. These days people are organizing play dates for their kids and it’s very regimented and scripted: Wednesday, 2-4, you have a play date with Tommy. When I grew up it was like: Wednesday, bye bye, I don’t want to see you until dark. It was a very different time and growing up there was a very cool upbringing, something I feel not many people really experience, especially not here. It’s a new thing to see on film.

There were gangs around us and there was dope and pot and stuff, but the actual conventions of the narrative were made up and draped against the backdrop of a very authentic setting.

Boy has a lot of responsibility amongst the other kids. Did he assume those responsibilities or were they assigned to him in some way? Was it a common thing in New Zealand at that time for one kid to assume leadership of a group of unsupervised kids?

Yeah, we used to look after each other. When I was probably, like, 6, my older cousin, who was probably 9 or 10, used to make my lunch for me in the mornings. All the kids would walk to school together and look after each other. Kids had a lot more responsibility for themselves. I think socially that makes you a little bit stronger because you learn how to deal with situations and you’re less scared of conflict.

You play Alamein, the father. Why did you choose to take on that role yourself?

I just thought he needed to be incredibly good looking.

I actually auditioned a lot of people and I did about six callbacks with actors that I wanted. The problem was, I was spending so much time trying to work with them to get this character right. I wanted to move away from how we are traditionally typecast in movies in New Zealand, which is like the Jake character in Once Were Warriors, who’s basically an alcoholic killer. There’s that kind of character, or there’s this sort of stoic warrior Dances with Wolves type of guy. There’s more to us than that. We have geeky, dorky guys who are essentially weaklings who pretend to be tough. You can have characters that have slightly more layers to them and that’s what I wanted. I wanted a degree of comedy in there as well.

Alamein (Taika Waititi) lives out one of his fantasies.

For me the most important factor in the film is the kids. The film is nothing without them, so I couldn’t be on set spending all my energy with an adult trying to work through problems. It was just easier for me to play him because I knew exactly what I wanted because the character’s based on a lot of guys that I knew. It just made sense for me to do it. My background’s comedy. I’ve done a lot of acting in the past and I wanted a certain amount of humor within the role, as well as some dramatic stuff. And being able to work with the kids directly in the scene was a huge benefit. I was in the scene directing them to their faces instead of being a voice from across the set. In the end, it made the job easier.

You mentioned your comedy background, which is probably what you’re best known for to many American audiences from your work on Flight of the Conchords. But you also have a background in visual art. How would you say that experience informed you as a director?

That’s what I was doing the longest until I started making films in 2004. My thing was painting and illustration and I still do illustration because it’s something I can do while traveling, since I travel quite a lot.

Composition-wise, the way I try and make things look, the art direction of having certain colors and certain things that I wanted within a frame, it certainly helps. I’ve also done a lot of photography, so that also plays into it. Really, film became the perfect medium for me because it was a mixture of all the things I was doing anyway. It allows me to address them all and be satisfied all in one project.

Boy was very successful in New Zealand. Now that it’s been opening in different cities around the U.S., what have the reactions been like here?

Fantastic. The reviews have been insanely great and the audiences have been fantastic. Because we’re doing self distribution, we’re doing roll-outs of ten new cities a week. In the next month, we’re opening in, like, another 40 cities. It’s really cool that the audiences get to see it, but it takes longer since we don’t have the budget of something like John Carter driving it. So we’re putting more effort into it with Q&As and stuff like that, and having physical presence with the film.

Speaking of big budget films, you were also in Green Lantern. What was that experience like in comparison with working on your own film?

Yeah. I played the best friend of the Green Lantern, who is this computer geek with glasses and stuff. It was weird. It wasn’t as much fun. Boy was filmed in a cool environment because I was in my hometown and it felt like a family affair. With Green Lantern it was like going to a new city. The set had hundreds and hundreds of people where our crew was, like, 40. There’s a certain disconnect within that kind of filmmaking. Not many people know each other. It was obviously fun to do the acting part of it, but at the end of the day I think anyone could have done that role. I’d rather do something a little more fun and a little more meaningful to me.

Boy. Written and directed by Taika Waititi. Starring James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu and Taika Waititi. Not rated. http://www.boythefilm.com.

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:40 pm

Taika Waititi: The Interview (Boy)
by Matt Rodriguez on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We sat down with director Taika Waititi about his latest film, Boy, a coming of age comedy about a young boy and his relationship with his absent father.

Shakefire: Boy is about the relationship between the father and his son. What were some of your personal experiences that went into the making of the film?

Taika Waititi: The real personal part of the film is that it's set where I grew up. It's set in the country and we shot in the house that I grew up in which was my grandmother's house and we grew up like that with a lot of kids. And I went to that school. Some other personal stuff was that a lot of my uncles and my dad included were in gangs. None of them tried to invent a gang or anything like that but I just wanted some kind of humor behind that scene. It's very easy to say, "Oh, it's just gang life. Let's have a little depressing film about gangs." I just wanted to touch on the gang thing but also show how ridiculous that stuff is. It's essentially a bunch of dudes who all want to hang together and drink beer and wear little outfits that look the same.

And it comes from a very real phenomenon which is the displacement and disenfranchisement of cultures that have got no other choice but to just start clubs or hang out with people like them because they have nowhere else to go. So that stuff I wanted to touch on but not make it, you know, I don't want to exercise demons or make it like my kinda spilling my guts out on the screen and like, "This is me!" Cause it's not really me. There are elements of myself in all of the characters in the film because you write what you know. Films also have to be entertaining so you have to give them things like “where's the bag of money” and “what happened to the gold.” That sort of stuff is the fake stuff but draped across a realistic background.

SF: So was the community involved in the production? You mentioned you filmed at the school, etc.

TW: Yeah, yeah. So the community is probably about 300 strong and I'm related to everyone. So yeah, I know pretty much everyone there and they were behind it fully. Nothing really happens there. It's very, very far from the city so if anything passes through it's literally passing through. Nobody stops there. For us to bring 40 people and a crew and sort of boost the population of the town, you know. It was really cool for them. All the crew became like a big extended family in the town. It was a very lively and really homely affair. So they were all very supportive. My auntie was the head caterer and a lot of people I'm related to helped out in the film. My uncle plays the teacher at the start whose smoking. So yeah, it's cool to be able to involve the community within the film making part of it as well.

SF: What was the reasoning behind setting the film in 1984?

TW: Well they say write what you know and that's sort of the world I knew. I wanted it to be a time where Michael Jackson was huge but he hadn't fallen yet. It was a time of heroes, almost before this modern age where we know all of the dark secrets of every celebrity now. It was a time where heroes were still these mythical beasts, you know, like the age of the titans. Michael Jackson was this insane god. The film is about your heroes and the first heroes that disappoint you, which for most people are there parents. I wanted it to be set in that time. Also, in terms of New Zealand, the 80's were like the coming of age decade for us. It was like when we were really finding our way in the world and discovering who we were so it seemed good to make a coming of age film set in a coming of age time.

SF: So was Michael Jackson a big hero of yours growing up?

TW: Absolutely. I think the reason that he was a hero to kids was because he was earning millions and millions of dollars and spending it on the same stuff and us kids would spend it on. He was like buying a castle and filling it with zoo animals and stuff. He had a python. So yeah, this was a guy who made perfect sense to us. Here's a guy whose brown like us and he's a millionaire and has Pepsi Cola on tap in his house. This is the coolest dude ever! And to top it off he was the most incredible singer and dancer of all time. So yeah, he was a huge influence on a lot of us.

SF: Could you talk about the culture aspect of the film? In one scene I noticed the kids washing their hands after leaving the cemetery...

TW: Well that's a tradition. Leaving a cemetery you're supposed to wash your hands and kinda sprinkle it over yourself. It's basically just to wash away any spirits that might be coming out of the cemetery. Once you're in there, you're in that world and once you leave, you kinda leave them there. That's where that comes from.

The dance at the end of the film is the haka. Traditionally the haka is a challenge, you know, if two tribes were going to war. When two tribes go to war, you would each stand off and do this challenge. Essentially it's a song but with actions and it's really just to indicate to the other side that you are intending to kill them, haha. And why it's at the end of the film is because when we were kids we grew up learning all these different hakas and to make it interesting for us we would mash it up with contemporary stuff like breakdancing which was big at the time, and then obviously Michael Jackson moves and things like that. So that was really just homage to that style because it was a mixture of Thriller dance and haka.

SF: One of the interesting films about the film is Boy's relationship with his father. At first it seems like he's trying to redeem and make up for his disappearance in Boy's life but his character sort of teeters between good and bad.

TW: Yeah, I like the idea of a character that essentially is a bit of an idiot; he's like a man-child. He hasn't quite grown up, like when he goes to apologize for embarrassing Boy down at the shows and taking the jacket back. That evening he goes back to apologize to him and the only way this grownup can apologize is to put it in terms that he thinks are appropriate for an apology; just say like, "Oh, I'm like the Incredible Hulk. When I get angry I get really angry so you got to watch out for that. Sorry about that." It's not heartfelt like, "Listen, I'm really sorry. That was wrong and inappropriate and I'm an asshole." It's him trying to protect himself again. His whole motivation, I guess, for a lot of what he does is trying to pass the blame or not to take responsibility for his actions, and he feels a lot of guilt because of the loss of the mother and stuff, his wife, and he wasn't there. It's all about characters trying to find their place and find out who they are.

SF: What do you think can attribute to the success of the film? It's New Zealand's highest grossing film and has received critical acclaim worldwide.

TW: I think it's because we're living at a time where if you look at the billboards for films that are on, a lot of them are a muscly guy fighting against a couple of dragons or some monster.

SF: Or a sequel.

TW: Yeah, sequels or prequels or remakes. And it's overwhelmed by quite unoriginal content and I feel like people were very attracted to the idea that this was a world they’ve never been to, a country that most people can't find on a map, and a world in a time that no one really even knew existed. People here have their idea what the 80's was like, but the 80's in New York is nothing like this. To go somewhere exotic and to be around people you have nothing in common with but to see a film that is essentially universal that you can relate to, that is what really made people love the film. And in New Zealand it was more about us seeing ourselves on screen. That was a very important thing for the Kiwis.

Be sure toalso check out Shakefire's review of Boy, which is out now in select theaters.

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:27 pm

Interview with Vikki and Kelly on b985.com




Wednesday, April 18, 2012 – Revenge of the Native Nerds: (listen)
Calling all Native nerds! Today we are hosting an on-line nerd intervention. Often interventions are considered to be deliberate processes that introduce change to a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In this case, it will be the nerds who will be helping you. Ever been called a nerd but, instead of being offended you patted yourself on the back and pushed up your glasses with pride? Do you embrace in your nerdiness? Do you scoff at those not in the “nerd-know?” Guests include Taika Waititi (Maori) Actor & Screenwriter/ “Boy” and Jim Ruel (Ojibwe) Comedian and Creator/“Nerdtastic Show”

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by emira » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:47 pm


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