Recently actress Sadie Katz (Meaning of Violence & Chavez Cage of Glory) sat down with us to talk about horror film House of Bad. This film caused quite a stir last year in the horror community with its tale of three sisters and a suitcase full of stolen heroin hiding out in an old, and potentially haunted, family home impressed viewers both because of the tense atmosphere it created, and due to the impressive central three characters.
Here’s what Sadie had to say:
Jim Towns (Director) talked to us about how it was a really tight shoot on the set of House of Bad, did that timeframe pose any particular challenges for you, or was it quite easy to manage?
You know it’s really crazy, with big films you get to do sixty takes and when you do something like this you get three takes tops. And it’s very stressful, but in some ways it’s also cool because you’re riding this emotional momentum; you’re doing one scene where you’re playing a game and then Jim goes ‘OK Sadie can you give me tears? We’ve got like a minute’. It’s OK for the first few days and then one day we shot like a 17 hour day… Emotionally you just get really fucked up by it though, you do. You’re giving everything so it’s crazy, and you become this kind of raw, emotional basket case – which is really great to work from when you have a tight shoot.
How has your theatre work helped here? Does that demand for concentrated acting and for getting a take right on the first try on stage help you through this kind of situation?
Not every choice I made was perfect in the film but that’s kind of what it becomes when you have one try. There just isn’t time to do multiple takes of every scene when you have ten to twelve pages to do a day. So it’s just really intense like theatre.
I think of performing to the crew, if you can get the crew to like what you’re doing then it’s a really good feeling – if the crew are like ‘damn that was good’. When you’re shooting ten pages a day you only really have time to deal with the crew. Actors don’t get extra takes, they don’t get to forget their words, they just have to go.
Did you have to try and memorise all your lines before the shoot then, or were you always trying to memorise them the day before? How did you prepare for a day’s shoot?
I did try to have everything off book like a play. I mean we didn’t know the order, Jim Towns is super prepared but it’s weird when you shoot out of order. I’m sure that in editing they would probably tell you that I had to replace words and things.
When you can’t memorise something it’s either because it’s Shakespeare or because it’s a poorly written script. And you know House of Bad makes sense – the characters don’t do weird transitions or leaps. I get nervous about the tiny little scenes, with the one or two lines. Sometimes those are harder to remember than those you are carrying… I think it’s more pressure. I think that if I screw up this scene people are going to say ‘what an idiot she is’, but if I have a ton of dialogue then I think people are on my side. I get freaked out when I’m shooting because I want it to be so perfect. I think about it when I get home etc. I think it’s easier to memorise scenes like love scenes, they are easy; it’s very back and forth.
Yeah I suppose it helps having someone else to go off. You can work with them rather than handling a long stretch of dialogue on your own.
Yeah we didn’t really rehearse, you don’t end up rehearsing low budget movies because everybody is just busy you know? But what you do is carry your pages of the script and hide them underneath cushions and things, so the second they say cut you’re looking at your lines again whilst they’re setting up the lights etc. But the trick is knowing your lines well enough that when you say them they just flow out of your mouth and don’t feel like lines anymore. I’m lucky because all three of us are theatre trained. I had to be the stripper with a heart of gold, which is a lot more fun to play, Cheryl had to play coming off heroin so the whole shoot she had to be down and Heather was doing all of this crazy stuff, so I got to have a lot more fun I think.
Did you find it difficult to act as sisters with the other two when you’re an only child? One of the strongest things about the film is that you all really do feel like sisters.
Yeah, well I’m glad that it felt like that. I felt like that. I read a book on birth order as Sirah is the middle child, which is really important as I think that motivates everything she does in this script. You know, when we had the table read I was really nervous, and I mean you’re nervous as a girl in LA anyway because the others are so beautiful and sometimes very competitive. But right away when we did our table reading I felt exactly how I was supposed to feel. I think what we did without telling one another was we immediately started relating to each other as the characters and it stayed like that throughout. It was a really fun experience, I don’t have sisters but my Mum comes from a family of twelve so I know what that looked like, and reading that book really helped a lot.
Do you think that Jim’s ability to write three dimensional women is something which particularly drew you to the role?
Yeah, you know I just got off another film called Meaning of Violence which was eighteen hour days for six days in a row. I love Greg (Director of Meaning of Violence) but I was just so tired and didn’t think I could do another indie film, and then I got this script from Jim Towns. You definitely work harder with indie films than you do on a film with a bigger budget but I wanted this so bad. And you know in low budget indie filmmaking you don’t get scripts that are like that, you just don’t. I actually auditioned for Teig, but in retrospect the way I would have played it wouldn’t have sustained it…
Were there any elements of Heather’s role that you would like to explore in the future?
I would love to play crazy, I think that it’s fun to play that when it’s contained and settled. I don’t normally get to play crazy that’s totally contained, but I have a lot of energy and I think that that would be fun to explore.
I just did a pilot for a cop show Streets of LA with Jaime Gomez and I got to play a cop, a detective, and that’s really cool because you’re given all this power and authority. As an actress when you’re crying all the time and vulnerable it really does filter into your life, so it’s cool to play a character that is fucking in charge and confident! So I think that’s something I would like to explore.
Aren’t you also playing a detective in Jim Town’s 13 girls?
Yeah we are still working on the funding but it’s such a brilliant script. It’s different from House of Bad in that it’s more demonic. It’s about a woman who just comes back to the police force after her partner, who’s also her lover, dies, and the first case she gets is these thirteen girls who commit suicide. That’s my wish for 2014 – that we get the funding. We did a couple of readings of it and I felt like my whole persona changed because of that.
Well when I talked about it with Jim he seemed really enthusiastic about it as well so fingers crossed it will actually get off the ground. You’ve written Scorned haven’t you? Could you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m really excited for it; I think it’s got to be one of the sexiest movies coming out. It stars AnnaLynne McCord, Billy Zane and Viva Bianca. Anchor Bay is distributing it and it comes out on Valentine’s Day. It’s about a girl actually called Sadie who’s boyfriend cheats on her with her best friend and she ends up luring them to a beach house and tortures them. Does very naughty things with them…
The whole thing is actually… I had a boyfriend cheat on me and it was the weirdest feeling for me, I was so enraged. When my writing partner and I started talking about it I said… ‘I feel that I could kill them’. That feeling I could understand it, you know? I mean I’ve never even hit anyone but I knew that feeling and then we just started talking about it. We thought we could do a Misery of sorts for young people. Misery meets Saw. I wanted women to see it and secretly understand, she’s crazy but you know…
Well best of luck with it, I hope it goes well!
Do you find that acting informs your writing? Does your experience help shape it, or are they very separate?
You know what, I think my acting informs my life so I sometimes make choices that are interesting to me in real life and I think that informs the writing. In Scorned in particular most of the great stuff we wrote was written whilst just smoking, drinking and saying mean things to each other! Saying things like what if she decides to sizzle out his eyeballs?! We just sort of danced around the living room with ideas, constantly trying to one up each other.
I have one final question which I asked Jim as well, do you have any advice for our readers who are interested in jobs in the industry?
Oh yeah, don’t do it! If you really enjoy your life and wanted to be a normal person – run. But if that’s literally the only thing you care about… you don’t mind being broke and having your heart broken over and over, and if it’s your first love then I think you should just audition. Go to a junior college for cheap acting classes and take a class. I say to people if you’re coming to LA to act then you should self submit, forget getting an agent etc and just get out there and audition. But it takes like a good, they say 5-10 years… just do something else!
Thank you! That’s all the questions we have, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Thank you so much!