Some questions with Paul Yates, co-writer of Wellington Paranormal

TV producer Paul Yates, who co-wrote Wellington Paranormal with Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi answered 12 questions asked by NZ Herald. The first four questions were about his collaboration with Jemaine and Taika. Looks like Thor: Ragnarok got in the way again for Taika to be more involved in creating Wellington Paranormal just as with What We Do in the Shadows FX show. Jemaine had to pull it off and it’s good that there are other great writers in New Zealand!

1. How did you come to make Wellington Paranormal with Jemaine and Taika?
They invited some comedy friends round to see an early cut of What We Do in the Shadows. My favourite characters were the two cops and when I suggested a spin off show, they said that they’d been thinking the same thing so they asked me to develop it.

2. How involved were they in the making of Wellington Paranormal?
Taika was supposed to be a lot more involved but Thor came along. Jemaine was filming Legion in the US, but we’d send them both scripts and they’d send back notes. Once Jemaine was home he edited the scripts and directed four episodes. We’ve been commissioned to make a second series with thirteen episodes just as they’re busy making the US version of What We Do in the Shadows. We’re going to break filming into two blocks starting soon.

3. So who did write the scripts for the first series?
I put together a team of and we went away to write in a house I rented in the Wairarapa. I wrote a couple of episodes. Fresh Eggs creator Nick Ward wrote one. Jemaine got me to hire Melanie Bracewell after he noticed the great gags she writes on twitter. We also had Coco Solid who wrote a brilliant web series called Aroha Bridge – she watches a lot of reality TV, which is really useful for making a parody of reality shows like Police 10/7 – and Sam Smith from Jono and Ben.

4. Jemaine and Taika have introduced Kiwi humour to the world. What makes it unique?
The way I describe it is tiny reactions to big things. Americans tend to overreact. They’ll go “Oh my god! I can’t believe this is happening!” Whereas New Zealanders just go, “Oh. Yeah.” You’d see the same thing in rugby in the 70s. Giant men with moustaches would score a try, toss the ball to their mates and just get straight back into it.

12 questions with Paul Yates: from bit parts to a main role – by Jennifer Dann | NZ Herald, 12 Feb, 2019

Paul Yates as a demon possessed husband in Wellington Paranormal episode ‘Demon Girl’.

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