“It didn’t feel to us like the kind of show that gets nominated at the Emmys,” confesses “What We Do in the Shadows” producer and writer Paul Simms. In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), he continues, “I was asleep when the nominations happened and there was a genuine feeling that my wife and daughter, who were telling me, had made a mistake. I woke up and checked then double checked.”
The FX vampire mockumentary broke through at the Emmys this year with eight nominations, including Best Comedy Series. The show tells the story of three traditional vampires, an energy sucking vampire and a familiar. It is created by New Zealander Jemaine Clement from “Flight of the Conchords” and produced by his Oscar-winning countryman Taika Waititi. Simms says, “I like old fashioned shows where you could tune into any episode and understand it. We try to make sure any season-long story arcs are comprehensible. But that’s even over-inflating our self importance. It’s a show about vampires. It’s so silly that if you need to see the episode before to understand it, we’ve done something wrong.”
Simms received one of “Shadows” three writing nominations for penning the episode “Ghosts.” The ambitious episode confronts the vampires’ ironic skepticism of the paranormal when they conjure the ghosts from their human lives. Simms adds, “Usually when I’m writing things I have in mind what it’s going to take to film. With the ‘Ghosts’ episode I thought, I’m not going to think about how we are going to accomplish any of this. I’ll just write something that will make the other writers laugh. That’s how I ended up writing a thing where three of the main characters act opposite translucent versions of themselves. Even just the conversations about how we are going to do it were so hard. It made our heads spin.”
The 10-time Emmy nominee has been writing for TV since his work on “Late Night with David Letterman” in the 90s. Since then his work has included “The Larry Sanders Show” and “NewsRadio.” He reveals, “I learned you can’t wait until inspiration strikes. You can’t wait until you feel funny. You have to sit down and do it. That’s what I learned at ‘Letterman.’ You have to sit down and do it every day. You approach it more like exercise. That’s my weird sort of sports/athletic/jock metaphor for writing.”
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