For someone like Berlinger, who has been working in the genre since long before it entered the zeitgeist with the likes of Making a Murderer and Serial, Bundy holds a special relevance. While the director wasn't an expert on his subject by any means, he does trace the country's obsession with "true crime" to Bundy's nationally broadcast Miami trial in 1979. Now, he brings it full circle. Over four episodes, Conversations with a Killer offers an overview of Bundy's reign of terror, with a hook: In many cases, the viewer hears Bundy's own words, thanks to the 100 hours of audio Berlinger received from journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, who interviewed Bundy on death row.
Even though it was Bundy's own idea to sit for the talks, he was an elusive interview, going by the tapes heard in the docuseries, maintaining his innocence and only talking about his crimes in the third person. "The challenge, of course, is sometimes he's a reliable narrator and sometimes he's not," Berlinger explains. "Initially, conceptually, we were thinking of just using the audio tapes and letting him really tell his own story, but we realized that we needed some contextualization, so that's why we added a few select interviews. But the rule for the interviews was we didn't want random experts who have studied Bundy -- we only wanted to talk to people who had direct contact with him, to kind of keep it in that first person narrative." So Berlinger talks to Carol DaRonch, who narrowly evaded being kidnapped by Bundy as a teen, and W. Kenneth Katsaris, the sheriff in Leon County, Florida, where Bundy stood trial for a final time.
But ultimately, Berlinger aimed to get into the "mind of the killer" -- a killer, who by all accounts, could be deceptively personable when he wasn't butchering women. "What I thought the audio tapes allowed me to do was to really -- instead of just talking about it -- to really experience the charm and smarts and cleverness of this guy so you could understand how somebody so charming and attractive and smart eluded capture for so long and eluded detection by those closest to him," he says.