What We Do in the Shadows flew into SDCC 2022 to host a not-so-secret meeting in the fancy room. The FX show proved to be Sunday’s biggest draw, bringing a full group of panelists (and a preview screening of this week’s episode) to Hall H, where cast and EPs discussed season 4 so far and teased what’s to come. BAT!
In attendance at San Diego Comic-Con this year were What We Do in the Shadows cast members Matt Berry (Laszlo), Harvey Guillén (Guillermo), Mark Proksch (Colin Robinson), and Kristen Schaal (The Guide), as well as Paul Simms (Executive Producer/Writer), Stefani Robinson (Executive Producer/Writer), Yana Gorskaya (Co-EP/Director/Editor), and Kyle Newacheck (Co-EP/Director). Kayvan Novak (Nandor) and Natasia Demetriou (Nadja) appeared via video chat.
Prior to the cast talking about their experience on the show and sharing a little of what’s to come, we were treated to an advanced screening of What We Do in the Shadows season 4, episode 4, “Night Market,” which aired Tuesday, July 26 at 10 PM ET on FX. You can catch all new episodes of Shadows on Hulu the following day.
‘What We Do in the Shadows’ at SDCC 2022
Episode 4 was an ambitious one, as the vampires were out of the house for most of the duration. Simms spoke to the scale of “Night Market,” saying, “I think it was our writer William Meny who’s always saying we should explore more of the supernatural world that exists underneath our world—and we’ve been talking about that one for a long time—and we thought it would be perfect to have a secret market where we could see everything. Look, we didn’t set out to make the biggest episode we’ve ever made, but that is what you guys just saw.”
When asked about the size of the location, the director of the episode, Yana Gorskaya, says, “It was massive. It was an abandoned warehouse that we scoped out. We actually started planning this episode in season 3 because we knew it was going to be huge. And everyone needed to have so much free time to prep all our costumes and production design. It was an undertaking that took up a lot of season 4.”
Well, we’re certainly grateful because the episode looked fantastic. If you haven’t seen “Night Market” yet, beware of spoilers ahead as we jump into the details we saw and learned at the What We Do in the Shadows SDCC 2022 panel.
As usual, each set of characters had their own mission to accomplish. As Nadja is still having trouble keeping the wraiths in line, she and The Guide go to the Night Market in order to find a way to make them a bit more compliant.
I enjoy seeing Nadja and The Guide together because their personalities are quite different, and given The Guide is still trying to find herself, I’m always curious to see how she’ll react to different situations. Meanwhile, Nadja is consistently good for a chuckle, and her exasperation at the wraiths demanding worker’s rights made Hall H erupt into laughter.
Meanwhile, Laszlo continues to explore his paternal side with “Boy,” aka baby Colin Robinson. It seems Laszlo is still upset that Colin isn’t living up to his expectations, despite Colin working hard during rehearsals for his opening act at Nadja’s nightclub. This week, he’s no longer obsessed with LEGOs or musical theater, but fairy tales, and Laszlo decides to give the boy a sneak peek at what real fairy tale creatures look like at the Night Market.
And then we get to Nandor and Guillermo’s story line, which was the highlight of the episode for me and got the most laughs and cheers in Hall H. As the pair of them are walking through the Night Market, they come across a vampire’s familiar fighting ring. Nandor can’t help but brag that his familiar can defeat any of the others’, but Guillermo wishes to bring no harm to another human. He tries his best to get everyone out unscathed, but it hardly matters, as he’s then forced to fight his master to the death.
Guillermo has always had a soft spot for his Master, but as he gains more confidence, we see him refusing to do harm to anyone, even under Nandor’s orders. “I think that, yeah, he’s always been sweet,” Guillén says. “I think we forget that he’s murdered so many people in the name of feeding his housemates, and we forgive him because it’s a job. And it’s a job that we’re like, we’ve been there, right? We’ve been working for someone who overlooks us for promotion. We’ve all been in love with someone from far away, but we don’t have the courage to say anything.”
When asked about his stunt training, Guillén says, “Yeah that was, I think, our biggest stunt to date, right? Kayvan and I got a lot of hours of training with that sword, and in the middle of winter, we were rehearsing in his apartment, over and over. And it’s just cool. It just makes it all come together. I love doing stunts. Shout out to our stunt director Tig [Fong].”
As for Novak’s memory of those days? “A lot of hours of twiddling my sword and playing with my sword,” he says. “Banging my sword up against Harvey’s sword.”
Yeah, that sounds all very normal and fine. I just want to check in with all the Nandermo shippers for a second. You guys doing okay? Need a minute?
But as wonderful and hilarious as episode 4 was, this What We Do in the Shadows SDCC 2022 panel also jumped back in time to discuss the first episode of season 4. When asked about Nadja’s desire to open a nightclub, Simms revealed it’s something they’d been thinking about for a while:
“I think since the beginning, we’ve always talked about—every ’80s or ’90s vampire movie always has a nightclub that has, like, industrial music […], people with leather, and then there’s always a scene where the blood sprinklers turned on.”
The panelists specifically pointed out Blade, and I think that movie—and that scene in particular—was formative for a lot of us who’ve enjoyed vampire stories over the years. But why would Nadja in particular want to open a nightclub?
“Nadja got turned into a vampire when she was a very, very young girl,” Simms continues, “and had never had a job and had never done anything out in the world.”
It makes sense, then, that she’d want to be in charge of something as fun and wild as a nightclub. But Demetriou claims the real reason is that they saw her dance, and, well, “When you see a talent like that, you have to use it,” she says.
Luckily, the opening of What We Do in the Shadows season 4 brought everyone back fairly quickly. When asked why this was, Simms responded, “I think mainly because I like seeing all the characters together. My favorite scenes in the whole series are the ones where it’s all our regular characters in a room together, and in fact, we have one coming up in two or three episodes from now which is almost all of them in one room for the whole episode. It’s great.”
This is certainly something to be excited for, as bottle episodes are always a fun way to get into the heads of our favorite characters. With everyone in the same room, there’s always a chance that relationships can be forged or broken with the right (or wrong) words. Nandor and Guillermo are tip-toeing around each other a bit, with Nandor’s soon-to-be wife and Guillermo’s secret boyfriend, so that should prove interesting.
One pair we probably don’t have to worry about is Nadja and Lazlo, who had such a tender lovemaking scene earlier in the season. Demetriou shared a funny anecdote at the What We Do in the Shadows SDCC 2022 panel, saying, “The scene we filmed, we actually did it in two parts, the making love on the sofa and then falling through the ground we did a few months later because they had to build the water set. It was the last thing I filmed, and it was absolutely incredible. Matt was improvising loads of stuff where he was actually pretending to drown, and I was really confused in the moment whether I was killing him. He was acting, of course. He’s a professional, and he can swim, so he wasn’t drowning, but it was amazing. And Yana was directing it up above, and hearing your director shout notes down to you while you’re in a pool, it’s an experience I’ll never have again.”
Simms says that water set plays a part later in the season, and I’m curious if the What We Do in the Shadows bottle episode will have the group falling through the floor and trapped below. Perhaps there’ll be some reason why they can’t levitate or turn into bats to escape? Or maybe it’ll be as simple as a locked door they can’t get out of!
Speaking of what else is to come, Simms had another teaser to give us at the What We Do in the Shadows SDCC 2022 panel, saying, “There’s an episode coming up where they have a boys’ weekend out at a cabin in the wilderness.” Apparently the raccoons and rats aren’t the only animals Laszlo deals with this season, as he’ll be calling upon a few woodland creatures as well, including an owl that’ll take up residence on his shoulder!
That boys’ weekend out will likely involve Colin Robinson, who is growing rapidly but is still very much a child. His presence in this season has provided plenty of laughs and intrigue, and it’s one of the plot lines I’m most interested in seeing resolved.
But plot aside, even the technology they’ve used to create baby Colin Robinson has been as impressive as it’s been unsettling.
“We were doing green screen and other tricks of the trade to get my head on a child’s body,” Proksch says. “The process started with a series of bone marrow transplants. I still vaguely smell of stale milk, and I roll my pants all the way down to urinate. Other than that, I’ve recovered.”
Believe it or not, the real answer to that question is almost as bizarre. “Figuring out how to do baby Colin was the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” Simms says, “and even just a few days before shooting, we saw the way we thought we were going to do it, which was digital mapping of a digital face onto another face, and it looked like a video game cutscene. So Kyle was the one who scrambled, and Kyle, tell them where your your inspiration for our approach came from.”
“Oh yeah, I knew exactly where to go,” Newacheck says. “A movie by the Wayans brothers called Little Man. I’ve always been fascinated with how they did that, like, 20 years ago. I was like, ‘How’d they do that magic trick?’ So instead of just doing the computer technology that obviously wasn’t going to feel organic, […] we decided to take that tech and push it. So basically, we took all of Mark’s head, every part of it, and turned him around in a chair and stuff, and put his whole head onto the child.”
Essentially, they had the child actor come in and do the entire scene, and then have Proksch go back and repeat the process. If the child turned his head in a certain way, then Proksch would have to imitate the same exact movement under the same exact lighting conditions.
If you think that sounds tedious and time-consuming, you’d be absolutely right. “Let’s put it this way,” Simms says, “we’re still finishing the season.”
With six episodes left in the season as of the What We Do in the Shadows SDCC 2022 panel, there’s still a ton left to explore. Simms was sure to tease a few future plot points: “Speaking of love, coming up the rest of this season, we will be—talking about Guillermo’s chosen family and vampires—we’ll meet Guillermo’s real family and get some real insights.” He also says there’ll be a “full vampire wedding.”
It’s possible that the boys’ weekend out could be a bachelor party of some sort, and it makes sense that this celebration and the vampire wedding would be for Nandor and Marwa. Is this also the reason we meet Guillermo’s family, or could there be some other reason why they’d show up for the first time in 13 years? Perhaps it has something to do with his Van Helsing legacy. Either way, I can’t wait to find out!