A SHOOT Conversation: Director Richard Linklater Reflects On His "Boyhood"
Richard Linklater
Observations on actors Coltrane, Hawke, Arquette, editor Adair
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With Boyhood earlier in the day earning five British Film Academy Award nominations--for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress--writer/director/producer Richard Linklater reflected on different aspects of the movie during a Friday evening (1/9) Q&A session just prior to an industry Guild screening at the Music Hall theater in Beverly Hills.

Interviewed by SHOOT editor Robert Goldrich, Linklater said he was fortunate to have had success in the past with IFC Films, which fostered the company’s willingness to commit financially to Boyhood, a project which, if all went well, wouldn’t yield a return on investment until 12 or 13 years down the road.

That delayed gratification, of course, was due to the nature of the remarkable film which presents successive episodes on the life of a boy from Austin, Texas, named Mason, starting at age 6 and tracking his growth and development until he enters college at 18. Ellar Coltrane portrays Mason in this fictional story which carries a heavy dose of chronological reality in that Boyhood was shot over a 12-year span, maintaining the same cast throughout and reuniting them every year or so to shoot scenes. Thus we see Mason, his sister and their parents evolve and mature before our eyes.

Key to the film was the casting of Coltrane. Linklater noted that both of Coltrane’s parents were artists and were supportive of the project and their son’s involvement in it. Linklater added that he simply had a feeling that Ellar was a thoughtful, cool kid who would grow up to be an interesting young man.

Linklater added that actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette--who portrayed Mason’s parents--immediately embraced the wild idea of making a film over a dozen years. While Linklater had a long collaborative track record with Hawke prior to Boyhood, this was the director’s first time working with Arquette and he was thrilled that after one meeting she agreed to take on the role--to capture what a mom experiences through life, including a fair share of adversity--from the get-go.

Over the years, Boyhood grew to a cast and crew of some 450 people, according to Linklater who offered his take on the notion that these folks are family. He observed that family is blood-related and you have no say in who’s in that group. But in the case of a crew, you choose your collaborators which can make for a different variety of strong, close-knit familial bond.

One prime collaborator of choice for Linklater has been editor Sandra Adair, ACE. Their working relationship is some 22 years old and counting, all the way back to one of the director’s breakthrough indie films, Dazed and Confused (a 1993 release). Linklater related that the editing of Boyhood was happening while it was still being written, directed and shot, with Adair providing crucial input as to what was needed from one year to the next; her voice being so important--and in a much different way than their prior collaborations--that she additionally earned a co-producer credit on Boyhood.

Linklater added that he’d like to work this way all the time, having a year to reflect and ruminate over how to best edit footage.

Thus far this awards season Adair has won Best Editor distinction for Boyhood from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. She has also earned Best Editing nominations for Boyhood from the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Critics Choice Movie Awards, and the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards.


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