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Taika Waititi Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (33) | Personal Quotes (25)

Overview (3)

Born in Wellington, New Zealand
Birth NameTaika David Waititi
Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Taika Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, hails from the Raukokore region of the East Coast, and is of Te-Whanau-a-Apanui (father) and Jewish (mother) descent. He has been involved in the film industry for several years, initially as an actor, and now focusing on writing and directing.

Two Cars, One Night is Taika's first professional film-making effort and since its completion in 2003 he has finished another short "Tama Tu" about a group of Maori Soldiers in Italy during World War 2.

As a performer and comedian, Taika has been involved in some of the most innovative and successful original productions seen in New Zealand. He regularly does standup gigs in and around the country and in 2004 launched his solo production, "Taika's Incredible Show". In 2005 he staged the sequel, "Taika's Incrediblerer Show". As an actor, Taika has been critically acclaimed for both his Comedic and Dramatic abilities. In 2000 he was nominated for Best Actor at the Nokia Film Awards for his role in the Sarkies Brother's film "Scarfies".

Taika is also an experienced painter and photographer, having exhibited both mediums in Wellington and Berlin, and a fashion designer. He attended the Sundance Writers Lab with "Choice", a feature loosely based on "Two Cars, One Night".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Defender Films / 2005

Trade Mark (1)

Often played a role in his movies.

Trivia (33)

He is of Maori and European-Jewish descent.
The music video for The Phoenix Foundation's '40 years' was shot in Lyall Bay on Wellington's South Coast in one single shot using the BAXI bike to carry the camera.
In 'Eagle vs Shark', Taika plays Jarrod's dead brother Gordon.
His Dad was a painter and his Mum is a teacher.
He crafted his stage skills together with 'Flight of the Conchords' at Bats theatre in Wellington which is now owned by Sir Peter Jackson.
James Rolleston was cast two days before shooting 'BOY'.
Taika was inspired to write Two Cars, One Night while hanging out in a g-string, fully waxed for an acting role as a stripper in a TV show 'The Strip' in 2002.
Taika spent two years in Berlin working and exhibiting in the Schliemann 40 House.
Taika in Maori means 'Tiger'.
BOY is actually his first film. Taika started to write it following the success of the short film 'Two Cars One Night'. However, he wanted to make his debut film lighter so he chose to make a romantic comedy 'Eagle vs Shark'.
He went to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002 with Jemaine Clement as 'The Humourbeasts'. Jemaine performed there also with Bret McKenzie as 'Flight of the Conchords'. FOTC became popular and the rest is history.
When it comes to the original music for his films, he always collaborates with the Wellington band The Phoenix Foundation who have made the film scores for his three films: 'Eagle vs Shark', 'BOY' and 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' and Samuel Scott of The Phoenix Foundation was the music editor for 'What We Do in the Shadows'.
One of his inventions was a tie with a hole to button it to the shirt.
Taika uses false teeth quite often in his comedy performances: 'The Ordinary Alien' in Radiradirah, Gunter the German "joke" teller in his stand up, vampires in the original 'What We Do in the Shadows' short film, his many characters in 'Falling Leaves', a short film.
Working titles for BOY were 'Choice' and 'The Volcano'.
He met Jemaine Clement at Victoria University of Wellington, later forming the comedy duo, 'The Humourbeasts'.
He collaborated with the architectural firm Wraight & Associates on a proposal for Wellington City Council's Wellington Gateway project. He designed a sculpture 'Upoko O Te Ika A Maui'. Unfortunately, "plans for a 35-metre-high illuminated sculpture at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge have been ditched because of fears for aircraft and of a massive budget blowout." Nevertheless, they won the 2010 New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Gold Award in Landscape Design Category - Visionary Landscapes.
Michael Jackson's nephew, Taj Jackson saw 'BOY' and "really enjoyed it", he "loved the MJ homages and references".
Earlier in his career he used 'Cohen' for his work as an actor and performer and 'Waititi' as a painter and artist. Now, to avoid confusion he goes by the surname 'Waititi'.
He made the music video for Age Pryor's 'Shank's Pony' and cover art for the album.
He's Jewish and Maori. Cohen is his mother's surname, Waititi is his fathers family name.
One of his first TV appearances was playing a surfer in a Moro Bar commercial.
Rhys Darby's Murray Hewitt in FOTC's HBO show wasn't their first mock-manager. Taika was the original 'Flight of the Conchords' manager Larry Pritchard of Larry Pritchard Productions in the mock-report from the Conchords at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002.
'What We Do in the Shadows' actors hadn't seen the script before and during the making of the film; they had only some directions from Jemaine and Taika and the script was largely improvised.
He's from the Maori tribe Te-Whaanau-a-Apanui (the family of Apanui), sub-tribe Te-Whaanau-a-Pararaki (the family of Pararaki).
In 2013, Taika used empty Nespresso capsules to make a two sided artwork showing the creation story of Wellington Harbour known in Maori as 'Tangi Te Keo'. It can be seen in Nespresso Boutique in Wellington.
Waihau Bay where 'BOY' was filmed is where Taika himself grew up as a child; Boy's home in the film is Taika's aunts' house.
He illustrated Jo Randerson's book of short stories 'The Keys to Hell'.
His portrait as Viago, the character from 'What We Do in the Shadows' painted by Freeman White is in the NZ Portrait Gallery in Wellington together with Jemaine Clement's character Vladislav's and Jonathan Brugh's as Deacon.
He wrote two and directed four episodes of 'Flight of the Conchords' HBO show; he's also has a cameo in the telephone commercial in the episode 'Drive By.'.
He wrote 'Eagle vs Shark' with his then girlfriend Loren Horsley/Taylor. Jemaine Clement admits it was difficult to film the kissing scene with Loren's boyfriend directing him.
Member of the 'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (AMPAS) since 2016.
Taika means magic in Finnish.

Personal Quotes (25)

Sundance felt like a natural fit. I love coming here, and I do think that this festival suits my films rather than most of the festivals I've been to. I'm not going to Cannes, you know.
To make filmmaking interesting to me, I want to keep learning things.
Also with that money comes the idea, "Let your imagination run wild." Which I think is a very dangerous thing. I think it's dangerous because you can get into pretty wacky territory. There are things that are too crazy.
I constantly remind myself that there are terrible movies out there. I try to watch them, some of them, to give myself an understanding of what not to do.
Sometimes there are really happy mistakes.
The films I like to watch are when they make it relatable to human audiences.
When you're actually making a film, it's just people on your back all the time wanting stuff and you're constantly having to it deal with them. It's probably the most time consuming of all the arts, but I do love it because it is a great mix of visual art and music and writing.
I've always been a relaxed person on set, but I think the main thing is I think about it from an editing point of view way more than I did before.
A big part of the humour is in identifying with the tragic elements of the film. The New Zealand sense of humour is very dark. Our films are usually very dark and it's always someone being killed. Usually a child.
I hate the modern day the kids live in. I don't think it's very cool. Everyone's interconnected.
I've become more like water, I'm more relaxed and I'll say, "Okay, let's just completely change it and do it that way."
If you're tracking with a character that's running off a thing and diving off, I would leave the camera there and not follow them down, because cameras don't do that. The audience understands that. I'll definitely bring that understanding of keeping things a bit more grounded.
I'm really not trying to do everything that comes to mind because that's when it can be dangerous. For instance, I believe as much as possible, how your camera moves and flies around should be limited to the physics of how you could do it in real life.
I'm used to working with restrictions and that's when you come up with the more creative stuff.
I've loved comics since I was a kid, collected them, I've always dreamed of being involved in comics.
Everything changes once you start trying to market the film. Part of you feels like everything is slipping away from you. For me, I don't want people going to the theater thinking it's going to be a laugh-a-minute comedy, like a Will Ferrell film or something. Because it's not.
Hitler rounded up all of the vampires in Europe.
Short film: you can be poetic and you don't have to answer anything. You can make whatever you want. You have creative freedom with short film.
With a feature film you're dealing with so much more money and you've got to be very aware of the fact that you're really working with an audience. You've got to have a relationship with the audience. Play with them and show them things you want them to see.
A feature film is an expansion of budget, stress, story, hours, time, workload, everything.
I like to find comedy or something interesting to look at with whatever I'm working on.
There are lots of parts of filmmaking that I don't like. At the end of the day, especially on features, the film turns into a commodity. You have to play this entirely new game I'm very uncomfortable with.
I want to do weird things and big budget things and no budget things. I don't have a five-year plan.
I never wanted to be a filmmaker. I still, sometimes, think I got sidetracked by this, like this is a tangent. My main thing was painting; I was just going to do that.
There were definitely Nazis who saw the error of their ways.

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