Interviews: Sadie Katz Talks About Her Documentary The Bill Murray Experience & The Horror Film Party Bus To Hell

Sadie Katz talks about The Bill Murray Experience and Party Bus to Hell
She chased Bill Murray all over the country - in order to have an “experience” with her favorite actor! At a crossroads in her life, actress Sadie Katz embarks on a year-long quest to have a magical experience with comedian Bill Murray.

We had the opportunity to speak with Sadie Katz about making her documentary The Bill Murray Experience, as well as starring in the upcoming horror film Party Bus to Hell. 

TMS: What’s up with The Bill Murray Experience? Where can people see it? And what do you want them to know about the movie?

SK: It’s currently on Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu. You do have to type in The Bill Murray Experience. I don’t know which outlets yet, but it will also be out on Blu-ray and DVD on April 13th. And if they like the film, I want them to tell their friends and rate it online and if not, don’t tell anyone (laughs).

TMS: Did you know what you were doing when you first started filming? Was it an actual documentary at the time? What was it when you first started filming?

SK: Well when I first started, I kinda had this idea that I wanted it to be a female Jackass. And you can see in the first act that we have shaky cameras, and it’s funny because it’s my first film and I thought, “It’s going to me and my girlfriends looking for Bill Murray and it’s going to be this really fun thing, it doesn’t have to be too serious and we’ll just get stoned and look for Bill Murray. And then maybe in between, we’ll have clips of girls skateboarding and surfing.”

Then, as soon as I started to do the documentary, I started to take it a lot more seriously and really getting involved in it and also learning what it is to be a filmmaker. I was always a super fan of docs, especially more of the Morgan Spurlock kind of vein. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I did a female version of that and had a little bit of fun, and it wasn’t meant to be too serious.” What’s interesting about documentaries is that the story sort of unfolds for you. You set out to make a documentary about dolphins and then you find out that the dolphins are being caught by fishermen, and then the documentary becomes about the fishermen. You know, you follow the story. What’s really kind of amazing and fun as a filmmaker is that you wanted to do a movie like this, but the actual thing that you’re studying is unfolding in front of you. And roughly from the beginning of me doing the documentary to it being released this April, it will officially be four years. So, I always tell everyone that was my equivalent of going to film school, I got the full journey of it.

So I would say with the documentary, that’s sort of what was happening, where I was learning. And then I started taking it really seriously too, as the stakes became very high for me. Whereas in the beginning, I was sad and depressed and decided it would be fun to have a Bill Murray experience and then it kind of went in a different direction for me.

TMS: So at that time, did you think that it was going to become something so personal?

SK: No (laughs). It’s so funny, it was a really weird thing to go through and edit. I was like, “OMG, this is so embarrassing.” But, I had my director hat on and was like this is what happened, this was the story. I really thought that it was going to be about my New Year’s resolution, which was to meet Bill Murray, and my three girlfriend’s all had different resolutions. So, when I set out to first do it, I thought that we would all be telling our story and that Bill Murray would just be one of them. My one girlfriend Jenny was going to be doing stand-up comedy, I have these on the DVD extras; my other girlfriend was doing an erotica poetry book; one girl that’s not much in the doc, Ashley, was moving out of her house and was going to be more open to the universe; my camera girl was really setting out to film everything and that kind of tied in.

And what happened was, as happens in LA, that sort of fell apart and they didn’t really care about doing it, because it wasn’t their passion project. So what started off as us being silly girls went to me saying, “I’m not giving this up, I’m really serious about this. I don’t want to be stoned and doing this. I want to pursue this for real and I need like sit-down interviews.” And you know, they weren’t as excited about it. I went to several different editors with the script that we had and they said, “Why are you so afraid to just tell your story of looking for Bill Murray?” But, that’s pretty crazy for me. What if no one wants to hear me yap about Bill Murray for an hour and a half? My editor had cast me as a lead in a horror movie and said to me, “Sadie, I put you as a lead in my film and we watched you not be yourself and you’re kind of a nutball, people will watch it.” It’s tough, I don’t want everyone thinking that I’m super vain. Then the story starts unfolding and I think, “Oh God, they’re going to think that I’m so crazy.” But, ultimately, you’re either going to do something and tell the truth of what happened or not. And that was the choice I made, for better or worse (laughs). You start spending money on a film project too and you’re in the middle of it, you have to say, “I have to keep going forward with this. I’ve just got to keep pursuing it and finish what I started.” That becomes a whole thing too.

TMS: How much footage did you eventually shoot? You mentioned previously four years.

SK: I spent a little bit over a year filming. The whole process including post-production, deliverables, and selling the film became a journey several times over. It’s so weird because I can’t be more passionate about a project, but there’s a lot of things of course that I wish I could change or I wish the story would have gone in a different direction. But, in truth, the actual core of the film that I really wanted and kind of the mood of it was really that song that plays at the beginning, that Songbirds song. It’s the very first song that I played on the first day of filming and I had said, “This is the style and the mood of the film.” You know, I didn’t want it to be just like jokes, I really think that there’s something quite moving and beautiful about Bill Murray and the people that are so obsessed with him in a sweet way. There’s something sort of folksy and beautiful about it.

TMS: I think it’s similar to Trekkies and any other devoted fans that are really into one specific person, film, or TV series. Some type of fandom.

SK: I’m so glad that you said that, because one of the things I said to people, “Depending on how savvy you are and how well you can read between the lines, the film, depending on your perspective, is really about someone getting sucked into fandom for whatever reason.” Some people get super into Star Trek and they can’t explain why, but that becomes a big pursuit for them and really important in their life to attend a Star Trek convention. Depending on how happy you are in other areas of your life, what seems crazy to one person to another you’re like, “OMG, that is exactly what I would love to do too.”

That’s kind of like what happened as I was doing the doc, the people in my immediate group were like, “This is really stupid that you will not stop talking about Bill Murray and researching.” And I would say, “This is not stupid, this is what I’m doing right now.” And then everytime I would think, “Wow, this is getting out of control,” I would run into somebody who would say, “I love Bill Murray so much and would love to meet him, it would be so amazing and magical.” And it would kind of get me started all over again. I think there’s something very funny about chasing something that seem so irreverent to other people, but it takes on a bigger meaning to you.

TMS: How involved were you in the editing process?

SK: Well what happened is that I had three different editors that went through the footage and I just couldn’t get them to tell the story. I’m a writer, so I’m a like a story person and there should be a beginning, middle, and ending. There was something missing and I was like, “You know what, I think I need to just sit down on the couch and say this is what happened.”

So I had been talking to my buddie Jim Towns, who did the animation and the editing as my buddie because he had directed me before, and said to him, “No one will listen to me. Every time I tell them this is how I want to edit it, they argue with me. I really want animation in it and I have all of these really great ideas.” What was so beautiful about Jim Towns, because we had worked together before, is that he trusted me and respected my opinion and he knew where I was coming from. I had gone through all of the footage and knew all the of scenes and knew where we were plugging everything in, then he came in and we did a rough assembly and painstakingly do what you do with editing. Most of the time, which was beautiful and amazing, we were on the same page, even when I was cringing and thinking, “OMG, are people going to think I’m so crazy and not cast me for anything.” So, that was a cool thing. It was nice too because by working with Jim I could watch the footage and just watch that “Sadie” from afar and kind of pull myself out of it and say, “OK, I’m just going to tell the story of what was happening at that point in my life and not try to judge myself too much.” Because it is a weird thing, and every now and then I’d say, “Do you think people are going to think I’m stupid or something?” And we’d go, “Fuck it.” We’re not going to worry about what people think, we’re just going to tell the story and have fun with it. And cross our fingers and hope that the people who would enjoy the movie that they will.

TMS: Did you ever reconcile with your friends who had supported you on the project?

SD: You know what, I didn’t. My former friend Jennifer Lieberman, the one with the red hair, she came to one of the festivals. It was nice to see her. She didn’t say much about the film, she said that she really liked it and everything. But no, unfortunately we didn’t. I think that’s a thing in LA, since I don’t know if it was the doc that broke up our friendship out or just out growing each other. The one girl, Ashli, I’m friends with on Instagram. I know my other girlfriend, Jenny, is getting married, which I heard through the grapevine. Yeah, but, we kind of all went our separate ways, which is sad, really sad.

TMS: In the doc, you talked about how it was weird getting mail and attention from fans from being in horror films. How do you feel about that now? Do you feel differently about it then you did at the time?

SK: Yeah, you know it’s funny because I did some autograph signings at Comic-Con last year. I went to Canada for an autograph signing, and then a couple of conventions. It’s seems like I just did the documentary yesterday, and then I realize, “Oh yeah, that’s right. When I was filming the doc, I got Wrong Turn and that really changed things.” It all of a sudden made me be a headliner in films, but I didn’t know that when I did it. I flew to Bulgaria, and Wrong Turn was a big thing there, and when I left my hotel at 6 in the morning there were like 4 people outside there wanting to get my autograph. It was very weird to kind of be thrust into that at the same time, and now I think it’s kind of cool. It’s a humbling experience. I mean, it’s nowhere near what Bill Murray gets but I do think it made me understand why he might not jump at the chance to get balloons from me.

Joel Murray said to me, because I became friends with him through this and he does horror films too so we’ll bump into each other, “No, balloons this time? (And Joel will start laughing)” The idea with the balloons, you gotta remember that I sincerely wanted to meet Bill Murray, was I wanted to stand out and that it would at least be a prop. I mean, because you give an actor a prop, and we could have fun and maybe pass out the balloons together or whatever. It was me just thinking of any wild idea and I’m a huge balloon nut, I’m like a twelve-year-old girl. So when I ran into Joel, he’s like, “Well, maybe if you didn’t approach Bill with a hundred balloons.” But, then that was my thing and if I don’t do the balloons, then we won’t remember that I’m the girl and I’ll get lost in the crowd. So, I would’ve flown all the way to Florida and he won’t even know that I’m there. You know, I’m the type of person that if I’m going to do something, I at least want to know in my heart that I did everything to my ability. But, now that I think about it, I’m like, “Gosh, I get a little intimidated if a fan comes up. I’m sure if one came up with a hundred balloons, I’d be like what the fuck?”

TMS: I think it may be a little different if it were at a horror or comic book convention, because so many fans are dressed up.

SK: Yeah. Well, honestly it’s funny because Bill knew what I was doing. In Florida, I hung out with his family and drank for three days. I didn’t film it because my idea was never to exploit Bill Murray or his family, I was always super respectful. Joel and I got this really dry humor thing, where he was giving me a hard time about chasing his brother and I was giving him a hard time that I wanted his brother and not him, joking around. He’s a really good sport and a good human. He showed up at the film festival in Palm Springs, where we had the premiere, with his wife and that was lovely.

But, my idea wasn’t to have the family think that this chick is thinking all about her. And as much as I’m an actress and blonde, I’m not the type of person that takes a billion selfies. I try to be as authentic as I can be, so it was a little bit difficult. When I flew out to Florida, it was a charity event and I didn’t want to just bum-rush Bill on stage. But, like his family and everybody was drinking, it’s a golf tournament, and they were saying, “No problem, go ahead.” But, in Bill’s defense, he was the most important person at this huge golf tournament where everyone was drunk and having a fun time. And maybe he wasn’t in the mood, he was kind of like back in the VIP section with police surrounding him. So I mean, it was like a very strange thing for me. I have to tell you, I kept saying to my producer Alex, who I’ve known for many years, “I cannot believe that I flew to another state to chase a man.” It was a little embarrassing, because I’m an actor.

Even when I was on the set of Rock the Kasbah, I had just spent the day filming with Danny Trejo. I spent the day acting and filming with Danny Trejo, you know a B-Movie, but still. And then, I’m sneaking onto somebody else's set with a shitload of balloons. And I know what they’re going through, they’re like, “We are fucking busy.” And it’s so embarrassing, I had to tell the AD, “I know this is so stupid. I’m doing this thing. I’m going to be really cool.” And, they were really nice to me and everyone was like, “You should just run up to Bill and act crazy.” Well, I couldn’t do that. Everyone was on set, that’s like their set family. So there was little bit of a conflict of interest, me understanding what kind of line I was crossing and not wanting to do that. Bill was at work and it was 3:30 in the morning, but also wanting to say to him, “This is so important to me, you don’t understand. You don’t have to do it, but at least tell me no.” But, that’s the truth of what happened.

TMS: Do you planning on doing more documentaries?

SK: I really, really would like this doc to go well, because I would really do a doc, and it's sort of a meta silly doc, but I wanted to make a doc called Girl Makes a Film. It's about trying to get film financing for the documentary itself, if that makes any sense. The idea behind it is that one of the hardest things about doing The Bill Murray Experience was getting people to give me money for the doc. I had ridiculous conversations, especially because I’m female, and very excitable, and blonde. People don’t always have the biggest confidence in me. I think finishing the film went a long way. There was a sort of funny sexual harassment, not in so much a #metoo crazy sort of way, because producers aren’t always giving money for the purest of reasons.

So, you’re having these ridiculous conversations and one of those things was, “What are you doing the documentary on?” I’d say, “I’m going to meet Bill Murray, I want to have a Bill Murray experience.” And, they would respond back, saying, “Well, what if you don’t get Bill.” And I’d say, “Well, then that’s what will be in the doc.” And this all sort of a “Who’s on first, What’s on second” sort of thing, and there was something ridiculous and it would’ve been brilliant had I filmed it. So, I would love to explore people pursue getting financing for a film. I don’t know how much you know about film financing, but it is literally the most insane thing. Someone investing in a film is a high risk investment, so in order for people to believe in it you just need the weirdest and funniest characters, and there’s so many highs and lows that go along with it.

TMS: It’s changed a little bit with crowdfunding, but yeah it is still a very difficult process.

SK: A lot of it is stops and starts. The crowdfunding thing is kind of on the downswing. I mean I did do a film that did very well on crowdfunding, Party Bus to Hell, but in truth you end up getting money from a guy whose cousin wants to invest in films. And then you meet at some ridiculous restaurant and you have no idea if you're getting the money or not, and then they’re like, “Oh, I can write you a check right now.” So, then you’re having like three meetings with them and you’r like, “Are you dating me? Or, are you investing in my Goddamn film!? (Laughs)” And so, then you’re right at the beginning, that person ends up disappearing and we spent all this time together and they were so certain. So, it's a very ridiculous journey, it really is.

A party bus en route to Burning Man breaks down in the middle of the desert among a satanic cult. A massacre leaves survivors trapped on the bus, fighting for their lives and panicked that someone is not what he seems.

Written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, it stars Tara Reid, Sadie Katz, Stefani Blake, Shelby Nicole, Ben Stobber, Vidonna Michaels, Richard Hochman, Demetrius Alex, Raymond Gutierrez, and Johnny Molinaro.

Party Bus to Hell will be available April 13 on VOD, DVD and in select theaters.

TMS: What do you want people to know about Party Bus to Hell?

SK: That’s also coming out on April 13th on VOD and all other platforms. It’s a totally different beast, but it’s a fun movie. Yeah, boobs, blood, and horror. It’s very fun.

TMS: What attracted you to the project? How did you end up being cast? Did you go through an audition process?

SK: My manager got an offer to audition and I thought the title was so funny, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s going to be a hit.” And I read the script, Rolfe Kanefsky wrote it, and he wrote this really fun character Joan the bus driver. I had previously played crazy characters in Wrong Turn 6 and Blood Feast, and I thought, “Wow, this would be a really fun thing to have this be like my third character that’s kind of a sexy, crazy villain. And, she could be totally different, so I’d have three supervillains that all had their own taste to them.” That was the most exciting thing about it I suppose.

TMS: The film doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, almost like a mockbuster would. Was this intentionally in the script and in the direction from Kanefsky?

SK: Yeah, I know for sure it was. Rolfe loves these sort of sexy, horror, comedy movies. The way the tone is, we’re just having fun here. We wanted it to feel like a midnight drive-in movie. My thing was, I wanted to take Joan as seriously as I could, until she wasn’t serious. So, a little tongue-in-cheek, so we talked about how to make her funny, and scary, and wink at the audience as well. The audience knows what we’re doing, this is just in great fun. You know, have another drink, smoke a little, and kick back and relax.

TMS: How long was the shoot?

SK: It was like 4-6 weeks. And they were in post.

TMS: That’s pretty long isn’t it?

SK: Yeah, well they had to do pick-up shots and I wasn’t around for all of that. And there was a lot of technical stuff, with the monsters and the pick-ups.

TMS: Was it tougher than other films that you've worked on?

SK: I think it had its own things. I mean, i had hardly any blocking for the film. So, we shot in a real bus, other than parts that were filmed on an actual sound stage, but my actual scenes were on the bus. So in order to play Joan, whose crazy and standing on a bus with five other cast members and the crew, and we’re all packed in there and I’m pretty much naked except for having panties on. And I have to play this character that’s jumping out of her skin because she has all of these creatures crawling in her, you know she’s all sexed up and I can only move in a one foot square and my ass is in the DP’s face. So, it was kind of a challenge. And on top of it, you have five actors who all have to have close ups, so I’m sort of doing my crazy bit all day. So, it’s a bit of a challenge when you’re doing an ensemble film like that, everyone’s gotta keep their energy up really high and be fully invested.

TMS: You were shooting all night as well, right?

SK: Oh yeah, it was overnight. Plus, we shot a really long day that was twenty hours in the desert. We were chasing the sun, and then we were chasing the dark. We had some bats out and we were really out in the middle of nowhere in the desert. You know, every film is challenging for various reasons.

TMS: Understandable. Your in a decent amount of horror films, who you label yourself as a scream queen? What do you think about that title?

SK: If people want to call me that, that’s great and it’s fine. That label in the ‘80s was a little derogatory I think, or people looked down on it, and i think that’s changed over the years. I know some actresses who’ve done a hundred horror films, that’s a scream queen for you. Where I’ve done other genres. Boy, as long as people are calling me anything, I’ll take it. Right? (laughs)

TMS: Would you consider yourself a horror fan?

SK: Yeah, totally! Ooh, The Strangers is coming out and I’m going with a group to see that. I’m a chicken though, so I see these films and they scare the crap out of me.

TMS: So, do you get scared while shooting a horror movie?

SK: Oh, definitely! One thing that I do have in my wheelhouse, just because it is, I can freak myself out pretty much instantly. I just did a film called Automation, it’s like a killer robot, being scared on cue isn’t me faking it. I can get myself prepared, I’m very suggestive. I’m somebody if you said, “I’m going to tickle you, I’m going to chase.” It would make me very uncomfortable. I don’t go to haunted houses, I’m honestly super triggered. I don’t if I’m a good actress, as much as I’m a good pretender and get really freaked out.

TMS: What are some of your favorite horror movies?

SK: Black Swan, as an actor that’s a really big fear. I love The Shining, I think it’s terrifying. The original IT is one of my favorites, I think it’s a good series. It’s funny, I kind of go through phases. The Ring is a well made film. The Descent is done so well when you’re done watching, by the end you’re just like, “Holy shit!”

TMS: Can you tell us anything about the other projects that you are working on or planning on working on? Or, anything else that you would like to plug?

SK: Yeah Blood Feast is finally going to play. And we went through a lot with the MPAA and I think fans are going to love it, it’s a really nice remake.I have all of this fun stuff coming out at the same time. I’m hoping that I don’t realize that there’s some stars aligned in the sky in my astrology sign that are supposed to be happening this way, if not I’ve got some great DVD’s on my bookcase. I made that film (laughs).

You can read our review of The Bill Murray experience here, as well as interview we conducted with Sadie for Wrong Turn 6 here.

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