30th August 2012
Pure Taika Waititi
Title of film: Pure Steinlager, Pure Taika
Director: Taika Waititi
The NZ director talks about hating treatments, making musicals and other funny stuff

Pure Steinlager Pure Taika is completely nuts but it travels well to the rest of the world. You star and direct the commercial. Did you also write it? What is your usual process for directing commercials?

I like working closely with the creatives and having the chance to offer up ideas and collaborate. I only wrote the funny stuff.

Are you approached by agencies who like your brand of humour and subsequently scripts are handed to you to direct or do you have to write treatments and pitch?

It’s invaluable to have a treatment as a creative template that everyone can reference and contribute to, sometimes that can be really basic, other times it can be quite elaborate. Personally, and I think I speak for everyone, I hate writing treatments. Usually I try to amuse myself in a treatment and so they become weird and a little bit irreverent – which explains why I hardly ever book jobs.

Do you think in pictures or words when creating scenarios?

Pictures probably. Pictures of words.

A lot of your work has a musical element whether it’s fabulously cheesey musicals for NBC, Tina Turner playing underwater for Rebecca Arlington, or rapping over the kitchen bench for Mother London. Is music part of the DNA of your scripts?

So far it has been a lot of music which is ironic because I hate musicals and musical ads. But if you do one thing well you’ll usually be a go to person for that style. Luckily I didn’t do a really good life insurance ad.

Your feature film, Boy, which upon seeing rocketed up 1.4’s favourite list, has been a phenomenal success in Australasia. Why did you decide to tackle the distribution yourself and not put the feature in the hands of a big distributor?

I thought distribution looked really easy.

Actually it was the American producer who wanted to spearhead the distribution. I said I’d help. I’m not sure I helped.

Is a UK / European release due?

It premiered in at the Berlin film festival and has been released in various European countries, but as yet I think it’s possibly too cutting edge for British audiences.

What are you up to now?

I’m back in NZ helping build the set for a movie that I’m making with my friends. After working in America with studios, rich people, and idiots, it’s lovely to be back in a sane environment where you can actually be creative.