Documentary Filmmaker Dishes on Lil Bub and Her Famous Feline Friends
by Laura Cross
Published on April 12, 2013
She has no teeth, extra toes, and will never grow any larger than a kitten. She’s Lil Bub — and since November 2011, she’s won the hearts of millions on the Internet.
On Thursday, April 18, this small-screen star will make the leap to the big screen at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City — all thanks to Vice, a media company best known for reporting on Liberian warlords and sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Vice’s documentary, Lil Bub & Friendz, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Internet cat celebrities like Grumpy Cat, Keyboard Cat and, of course, Lil Bub — and focuses on how influential these cats are in pop culture.
Vetstreet caught up with Juliette Eisner, codirector and coproducer of the documentary, to get the scoop on what inspired Vice to delve into the world of Internet cat celebrities — and to find out if Lil Bub is as awesome in real life as she is on her blog, Youtube channel, Twitter and Facebook page.
Q. What inspired you to make a film about an Internet cat celebrity?
A. Juliette Eisner: The cat phenomenon on the Internet is not something that can be ignored; it's pretty huge, it's everywhere.
The project all started with that Internet Cat Video Festival, which was being held at one of the more acclaimed art establishments in the country. We heard about it and had to see what was going on. We really weren't expecting what we were seeing, which were more than 10,000 people at the Walker Art Center on a field watching YouTube videos. People had even traveled there from outside the country just to come to this festival.
Q. In the film's trailer, we find out that Lil Bub is from another planet. What planet is that and what sort of spaceship do we need to get there?
A. I’ll have to check with her owners, but I think the planet is called Bub-Bub-Bub. The spaceship is a very special Vice-created spaceship — you have to have VIP access in order to get on Bub's planet.
She's such an alien cat — and that's the first thing that we thought when we saw her. This cat essentially is E.T., and we’re so glad she's on our planet.
Q. Lil Bub is moving up through the ranks of cat stardom — did she have any diva moments? Any special requests while you were filming?
A. No! Bub was the least diva celebrity I've ever met. She's totally cool. Her rider was fairly easy to handle — no special requests — just the occasional nap. She was a pleasure to work with.
Q. Was there anything about the project that surprised you?
A. I think the initial shock was at that festival. We originally went to the festival for a short piece for Vice that we didn't think would be more than 10 minutes, kind of just to talk about how funny it all was. Then we saw all those people so over the top in love with cats and realized it was something that could be much bigger.
One of the other more surprising parts is that these cats are mini celebrities. Some of these cats have more Twitter followers than your average indie-rock band. When we were with Bub, people would stop and be like, "Oh, I know that cat!"
Q. What did you learn about the humans behind the famous Internet cats?
A. They're all really nice people. We happened to come across the nicest celebrity cat owners ever. They're all just having fun with it. It's fun to have your animal be super super famous. They make a lot of money from these cats, but they're also giving back to animal charities, which I think is great.
Q. Will Lil Bub be on the red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival? What is she planning on wearing?
A. Oh, yes, she definitely will. She's going to be at the premiere, she'll walk the carpet. But Bub won’t be dressing up — she refuses to wear clothes. She's naked all the time.
Q. What's next for Lil Bub? Do you think her fame will last?
A. I definitely hope so! I know that she'll be coming out with a book. That's really exciting for her. I think that's she's being approached by a lot of different people, partially because the film is getting so much buzz from the Tribeca Film Festival. She has a long career ahead of her. She's not just a child star.