“Write what you love and what’s familiar to you” Sadie Katz
Sadie Katz really early memory is watching Wizard of Oz and literally crying during the whole thing. Sadie was four and her parents were asking her if I’d like tennis lessons and she was very firm in wanting to be an actress. That’s just always been it for Sadie Katz. She started doing talent shows, writing plays, puppet shows anything so she’d get a chance to act and then she went on to do community theater.
Sadie Katz got married young and got divorced a few years after… She was 23 and decided to move to LA with her one year old and go after acting seriously like she always wanted. Sadie did it the very old school way (if you don’t know anyone in the business). She did student films to build her reel and then moved onto films for copy, meals & credit. Every four months she’d have one week of talking about quitting but, something would happen. She’d get a cool audition, book something, just enough to keep her in the game. Now, she looks back and feel like she was earning her place.
Q: Did You Study Acting?
Sadie Katz: I was pretty broke when I started to seriously study the craft of acting, but I discovered that Junior Colleges often have really great acting programs. They also have something most theatres don’t… financing! I’m not sure if I should advocate this but, I was in four different Junior Colleges over 8 years. I would do a play and their theatre program.
I started at Cerritos where I studied with Georgia Wells musical theatre and then acting for the camera and improv with Kevin Hoggard. That school was very Stella Adler, Uta Hagen. Then I went to Cypress College and worked with who I consider my mentor Mark Majarian and he was really into the Eric Morris Method. I also met and studied with Tom Ormeny who also owned the Victory Theatre with his wonderful ass-kicking wife Maria Gobetti. They were actually the ones who got me into Meisner and studying at their theatre.
That lead me to LA and to finally finish up the world’s longest Associates degree in theatre at Pierce College. I wanted to continue at UCLA but, by that time I was already doing student films there and raising my (now toddler) son so, I ended up jumping into the indie film world. I can’t recommend this enough to actors (of all ages) – use your local Junior Colleges, a lot of the teachers are amazing resources.
Q: What is Your Filmmaking Process?
Sadie Katz: It depends on the project but, I think I have a mixed bag of tricks from everything I’ve studied. I come from the whole “the character is you” thing and I like journaling as my character. But, once I’m on set I try to work from the Meisner Method of “all life comes from the other actor”. I have a pet peeve when I’m working with another actor and they’re off in the corner listening to some song on their headphones to get them worked up, I mean, if that’s what they need cool, but I personally am like I’m here, I’m prepared, let’s play off each other.
I think everyone’s process is really personal to them. I will say this though, doing your work before you get to set is best. I shoot a lot of indie films and we are shooting 8-10 pages a day there’s just isn’t any time to do crazy exercises when you need to be ready to jump in.
Q: Tell us about the Work You Have Produced?
Sadie Katz: This is kinda crazy to say but, when I played the very crazy Sally Hilliker from the Wrong Turn franchise- she was a sexed up, cannibal hillbilly who needed to produce with her long lost brother to carry on the family line…how do you make that deeper and not something silly? I ended up doing a lot of monologues from “Cat on The Hot Tin Roof.” I really try to respect every role no matter how outlandish and find a way to play the underlying truths I can relate to.
I recently did a killer robot movie (Automation) and was spending a lot of time running from an actor in a robot suit- I decided to just have fun and actually not be so serious. Like, when you’re a kid playing tag there’s a natural rush to that – hiding so you’re not caught etc… All of a sudden I’m running and boom there’s a dead guy! Just reacting and trusting your own imagination.
Q: Do You Take Courses to Improve Your Craft?
Sadie Katz: The last course I took was at John Ruskin. I enjoyed it but I also felt like I was at a point where I’d be more interested in private coaching then being in a room full of other actors who, unfortunately, sometimes aren’t always as supportive as you’d like. I know in LA you can get into a real cycle of constantly taking classes which is much easier than putting yourself on the line and auditioning.
I will say that I just moved to Atwater Village which is close to Burbank and the Victory Theatre and I’m about to hit them up to start studying with them again. I think if you are going to classes and find yourself not super stoked to be there, you shouldn’t feel bad for taking a break and maybe working the process on your own. You have to do what’s right for you.
Q: How Do You Combine Acting, & Writing?
Sadie Katz: I’d recommend the book “Being & Doing” By Eric Morris to absolutely everyone. Robert Mckee’s “Story” is great for both actors and writers. “Save the Cat” is an industry standard for writer’s for a reason. I think writer’s make better actor’s because they’re aware of what their purpose is in telling the screenwriter’s story. Why am I in this scene? If the script is written well you’ll understand what your motivation must be to continue the plot. That’s important and you’ll be helping your director.
Q: How Do You Turn an into a Screenplay?
Sadie Katz: I read one day that they were selling this “Clown Motel” in the middle of Tonapah, Nevada. I rented a car and spent the night there. The motel was basically like a Motel 6 with lots of clown stuff. It was built next to a graveyard. I was obsessed. I wouldn’t shut up about it. I had a friend who liked the idea and we decided to write a screenplay inspired by the film. I think whatever idea you have you have to be really into making it work because, it can be a long process and you need to not get bored half way.
Q: Explain Your Writing Process?
Sadie Katz: Lets see…I first start to clean my desk, my house, call old friends, cook elaborate meals everything, do everything but write. My subconscious nags and nags me that I need to get on with the writing. I’ll be taking a shower then a scene just jumps at me and I’ll be running around half naked dripping trying to find a pen! Finally, I sit down and get something on the page. The rest is a cluster of lots of days of not showering and sitting at my computer.
Q: What Writing Tip Can You Give Young Writers?
Sadie Katz: Write what you love and what’s familiar to you. Don’t try to write the next Star Wars or some big budget project. It’s really discouraging to spend months writing something that’ll be next to impossible to get funding on. Join writing classes and groups. Don’t be disheartened when you say you’re a writer and people roll their eyes.
Fuck ‘em. When I co-wrote “Scorned” I went to the WGA because, I thought I was owed some money. I went to the lobby front desk and asked if I could pick up a check there. The men at the front desk kinda smirked “This is for WGA writers only, you sure your script was WGA?” I nodded, more smirking. When I finally convinced them to call upstairs their look changed. I had a check waiting. They apologized and said “You didn’t look like a real writer.”
Don’t let someone make you feel like you’re not a writer, just write.
Q: What Do You Want To Change ABout The Film Business?
Sadie Katz: Honestly, I think Instagram, Twitter and IMDB are the absolute worst. I have to use all three but, I think it’s bullshit. Sign up for IMDB but, forget about the star meter. I think it drives young actor’s nuts. One day I’m at 3,000, three days later I’m at 17,000.
My friends who work all the time have an IMDB that’s in the hundred thousands and because some dudes google me I’m at a higher star meter. Instagram is the absolute worst. I go on an audition and they want to know how many “followers” I have- it’s really important to them. Then I get on set and they don’t want me to take any pictures. Huh? Then, I’m forced to share pictures on IG that will get me more followers. Most people who have large followings have a ton of selfies in their bikini.
What does that have to do with anything. How many times have you rented a movie from some “IG Influencer?” Backstage West recently sent me a program to build my IG followers organically – thousands of new followers a month for $200. I mean this is the same paper that use to send me articles on craft. Twitter, don’t even get me started. I don’t think it’s going away but, it’s really annoying to me.
Q: What Do You Want to be Remembered For?
Sadie Katz: Telling the truth. And that I make great chicken taco!
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