Tommy Avallone spoke to Solzy at the Movies ahead of the Cinepocalypse screening of The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man. The film premiered at SXSW in March and will be holding the Midwest premiere on Saturday afternoon at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago.
Thanks for joining us today. How are things treating you?
Tommy Avallone: I’m doing good. It’s 10 AM here. I’m a little late starting my day but it’s all good.
The Bill Murray Stories will be screening during Cinepocalypse in Chicago. How excited are you that the film is going to be screening at the Music Box Theatre during the festival?
Tommy Avallone: I’m excited for any screening, really. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the place. I heard it’s fantastic. I heard 700 seats or something like that. Honestly, any time I can go to Chicago or at least play this particular movie in Chicago, I’m very excited.
What led you to make the film?
Tommy Avallone: I guess just the curiosity. My friend Brian told me my first Bill Murray Story with the bathroom, hands behind the eyes, and no one will ever believe you. I asked if that was super weird or strange and I wondered why he would ever do that. Years down the line, I heard more about karaoke and him doing the dishes at a college party. I just started figuring out that this would be something that was interesting and I wondered why it happened. I kind of went with that.
What is the craziest story that you heard from people as a result of making the film?
Tommy Avallone: I really don’t like to judge things as crazy and all. My favorite is definitely the college party where he’s doing the dishes. That—for some particular reason—really captured my imagination. I just thought that was so funny. He’s in St. Andrews—somewhere in Scotland—for a golf tournament and finds himself at this party. I don’t like doing my own dishes and here’s Bill Murray doing a stranger’s dishes—I just think that’s very funny.
Having seen the film at SXSW, I love the montage in the film where you’re calling Bill repeatedly. How long did you make an attempt at doing so?
Tommy Avallone: I did about 13 calls throughout the time. I would say a year to year and a half only because at one time, his machine was full. Not from me, I don’t think. When it got empty, I was able to call again.
The documentary features some footage at The Second City in Chicago. Was this your first time walking into the historic theater?
Tommy Avallone: It was! I’ll tell you—I really enjoyed it. We filmed at iO as well with Charna Halpern. iO is such an amazing spot. Second City is an amazing, amazing spot. I’ve always kind of had a not correct feeling about improv. I’ve never thought improv was something I’d want to watch. I always had this wrong feeling for some particular reason about improv. I got to see a Second City show and an iO show while filing in Chicago. I was really blown away. I thought it was really, really fantastic. When I come back, I might see another show. I think it’s awesome.
The history, too! We kind of shot it like it was the Ferris Bueller scene at the museum. When you’re walking around seeing pictures of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Candy, Chris Farley—all these legends and they all started there—Tina Fey, Amy Poehler. It’s just very, very exciting to sit there and look at it–Steve Carell.
It’s a Who’s Who in American comedy.
Tommy Avallone: In doing my research, I got to find out more about Del Close. He’s a fascinating person!
He’s one of those that I would have loved to have met.
Tommy Avallone: The Thank You, Del: The Story of The Del Close Marathon documentary is really good.
Do you have a favorite Bill Murray film?
Tommy Avallone: Ghostbusters. I don’t know why—as a kid, I always thought it was a good movie to watch—like it was the coolest thing to catch ghosts. I put it on in the background as a kid. I produced the Ghostheads documentary, which followed around the Ghostbusters fans, with Lee Leshen. I always just thought Ghostbusters was good and watching it as an adult, I just thought it was really funny.
Thanks again for your time and congrats again on the film.
Tommy Avallone: Thank you!
The Bill Murray Stories will screen during Cinepocalypse on June 23 at 3:30 PM. For ticket information, please click here.