Stefani Robinson interview: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ executive producer
Stefani Robinson, a four-time Emmy Award nominee as a writer and producer on both “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Atlanta,” says she and the “What We Do in the Shadows” team were already in the process of putting together the FX comedy’s third season when the second season broke through with eight Emmy nominations including Best Comedy Series. “It was just sort of like the gravy on top of working on such a great show,” Robinson reveals in an exclusive video interview. She joined our Gold Derby “Meet the Experts” panel for showrunners.
But Robinson says the success of “What We Do in the Shadows” hasn’t changed the approach the writers take to creating the mockumentary series about a group of vampires living on Staten Island.
“We are very adamant that people just throw up the stupidest, silliest ideas that they can possibly think of,” Robinson says of how she and showrunner Paul Simms think about the series. “Many of our great episodes come from ideas that feel just very sort of flippant in the writers’ room, maybe at the time, and don’t have a lot of thought story-wise…. It can be as dumb as vampires need to go to the dentist because they chipped a fang, something that really doesn’t feel like it has much meat at all. And then really sort of force ourselves to take those sillier premises and make it actually feel more emotional and have more of legs in terms of a story.”
“What We Do in the Shadows” is famously based on the 2014 movie of the same name by Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, and Robinson says the goal is always to keep the show “cinematic” in its depiction of vampire lore. “I think the more blood, guts, flying, prosthetics – really interesting character choices in terms of like creature characters – visual effects and special effects [the better],” she says during the Gold Derby Meet the Experts: Showrunners panel. “Where we can actually give ourselves the opportunity to create that atmosphere that feels more cinematic and feels actually like it’s a horror movie and twists that sort of horror-comedy knife a little bit more. I think that’s some of the more satisfying episodes as well.”
Season 3 of “What We Do in the Shadows” ended with a game-changing twist for Colin (Mark Proksch), the show’s resident energy vampire. It was a conclusion, Robinson says, the writers didn’t necessarily think too much about in terms of what comes next.
“I think is the fun of the show,” she says. “When we do sit down with each other, and really start breaking the next season, it is a challenge…. I’m a big believer in this, and I know Paul Simms is as well: the more constraints actually breed more creativity, because we are so locked into a certain way of doing things… it actually forces us as writers to become as creative as possible.”
Season 3 of “What We Do in the Shadows” is available on Hulu. Season 4 premieres later this year.