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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Linklater’

On the heals of writing yesterday’s post about a filmmaker from Austin, Texas, I thought it was fitting to write about a filmmaker from New Jersey talking about being inspired decades ago by a filmmaker from Austin.

“I was awed by (Richard Linklater’s film) Slacker, that it existed. And Richard’s story was kind of compelling too. This guy from Austin, Texas—not from Hollywood, not from New York—had made a film that’s playing in New York and look at all these people here to see it! And he’d made it for such a low amount of money. But by the end of the film I was thinking, I could definitely do this! And oddly enough it was the reaction that Clerks would have a few years later…Anyway we’re driving back to New Jersey and I say, ‘You Know, Vincent, I think that’s what I want to do. I think I want to make a film.”
Kevin Smith
My First Movie
20 Directors Talk About Their First Film
Page 74
Edited by Stephen Lowenstein

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‘Boyhood’

“Whenever I despair I think, OK, somebody out there somewhere, while we’re sitting right here, somebody out there somewhere is making something cool that we’re going to love, and that keeps me going. “
Steve Soderbergh on April 27,2013
Conclusion to his State of Cinema talk
San Francisco International Film Festival

For the last month I’ve tried to find an angle to write about Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood. After writing the last two posts about Steven Soderbergh I decided that Soderbergh’s State of Cinema  talk last year was my anchor. I don’t know if Soderbergh loved Boyhood, but I think it fits his criteria from last year that “somebody out there somewhere is making something cool.”

Linklater shot the Boyhood over 12 years with the same actors in Austin, Texas. That’s pretty cool just by itself. Linklater said that he’d been compelled to make a film about childhood, but was having trouble finding the moment he wanted to explore so he’d given up on the idea of a feature film on the topic. But he sat down to write something and that’s where he captured the magic.

“I was just going to write an experimental novel or something, and the hands go to hit the keyboard and this idea comes fully formed. Like, ‘What if you filmed a little bit every year? And the kids just grew up, and everyone just aged—why can’t you make a move like that?’ So that’s the fun part. The tough part was it’s such an impractical crazy idea—the mechanics of it. Not to mentioned getting it financed.”
Writer/director Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Flim4video interview

And even if Soderbergh didn’t love (or even see) Boyhood, plenty of people did. It received 100% from the top critic on Rottentomatos.com.  On boxofficemojo.com they have the $4 million film making over $37 million worldwide since its July release.

Boyhood wraps up today a more than a month-long run (often to sold out crowds) at the Enzian Theater here in Orlando, so obviously the film struck a chord beyond the art house crowd.

There’s an Amy Hempel quote I read in an article by Blake Butler a while back that sums up part of what I think fascinates viewers of Boyhood, “The more literal you are, the more metaphorical people will think you are being.”

P.S. I was producing and shooting a video project after I saw Boyhood that required using a young talent hitting a baseball off a tee and blowing out birthday candles and decided to take a still photo of the talent that captured the spirit of boyhood and what it means to be seven years old.

DSC_8685web

© 2014 Scott W. Smith

Related posts:

Screenwriting from Texas
The Day the Field of Dreams Burned
Difficult + Changing Times = Whiplash

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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“It’s kind of unusual to be creative and also like sports.”
Filmmaker & CalArts faculty member James Benning (and long time friend of Richard Linklater)

“I often joke when people ask me if I went to film school I say, ‘Oh, I went to the Stanley Kurbrick Film School,’ which means you just buy a camera and you learn how to use it and you start making movies.”
Filmmaker Richard Linklater

Before Richard Linklater became the filmmaker Richard Linklater he was a college baseball player at Sam Houston University. He left school to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and used some money he made to buy an Super 8mm camera and eventually moved to Austin where he made his first commercial feature Slacker. While he’s directed one baseball movie (Bad News Bears–2005) he’s more well known for Dazed and Confused,  School of Rock, and his Oscar nominated films (Before Sunset and Before Midnight).

“One of the first things director Richard Linklater did with money he had saved from his movies was buy a piece of land in Bastrop, Texas. He built a baseball diamond on it and a library in which he stored his collection of movie posters, a personal ­35-mm. print of his 1996 film subUrbia, some paraphernalia from 1993’s Dazed and Confused, and writing going back 30 years, says Linklater’s frequent collaborator Ethan Hawke. When a forest fire tore through the area in 2011, it was destroyed. ‘Everything went up in flames,’ recalls Hawke. Thirty years of work. He lost everything. And when I called him to say how sorry I was, he was already thinking about how grateful he was for the fire for teaching him not to be materialistic.”
Tom Shone in Vulture, 2013

P.S. You’ll see more of Linklater in 2014 where he’s on camera in La noche de los Oscar (with James Benning) and the release of Boyhood in July which follows a young man from the ages of 5 to 18 and was shot over a 13 year period while the boy and other cast members aged naturally.

Scott W. Smith

 

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“It’s a difficult time in the [film] industry at the moment. There’s a lot of changing over that’s happening, and there are a lot of very bright young people who want to get into it.”
Director John Schlesinger in 1969
Same year Midnight Cowboy was released for which Schlesinger won an Oscar for Best Director
Quote from the video below titled The Secrets of Legendary Film Directors (includes Kurosawa, Bergman and Fellini)

Remember that 1969 is the same year that Easy Rider hit movie theaters.

Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (and the Kenneth Bower doc of the same name) recounts how many of those very bright young people (including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Francis Ford Coppola) changed the film industry–and makes the case for them saving the industry.

Now 45 years later Lucas and Spielberg are the old guard and just last year spoke publicly to film students at USC about the difficult and changing times of the film industry.  Lucas said, “The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller.” And Spielberg went as far as saying there could be an “implosion” or “meltdown” in the film business due to megabudget movies failing at the box-office simultaneously. Steven Soderbergh in his State of Cinema Talk last year added that cinema was under “assault” by studios (with the support of audiences).

In the late ’20 with the advent of sync sound in movies, along with the depression, there was a lot of concern in the movie industry about the changing times and technology. In the late ’40s and early ’50s with the spreading growth of television in homes there was much concern in the film industry about the changing times and technology. In the ’80s it was cable TV and VHS tapes that people feared would keep people away from movie theaters.  Most recently concerns have shifted to the Internet, videos games, and pirating. Changing times have a way of, well, changing. Constantly.

So here we are back to the future—difficult and changing times. And yet, you can still copy and paste Schlesinger’s 1969 words—”there are a lot of very bright young people who want to get into it”—and drop them in 2014.

And Soderbergh understands that some new young filmmakers (and new visions of old filmmakers) are going to emerge and find an audience.

“So whenever I despair I think, OK, somebody out there somewhere, while we’re sitting right here, somebody out there somewhere is making something cool that we’re going to love, and that keeps me going.”
Steven Soderbergh
Keynote address at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival

At that moment somewhere in Teaxs someone was working on something cool. As Soderbergh was giving that talk Richard Linklater was editing his newest film Boyhood that premiered at Sundance Film Festival last week.  Indiewire called the film ‘groundbreaking” and making “cinematic history” because the movie was shot with the same young actors 3 or 4 days a year—over the course of 12 years.

And winning the Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic and the Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance this year was the personal film  Whiplash written and directed by Damien Chazelle. A film that explores dedication to one’s art.  Whiplash’s executive producer Jason Reitman called it,  “Shine meets Full Metal Jacket.”

Whiplash—the word, as in severe head jerk—is a good metaphor for the difficult and changes times following the digital revolution. Changes that have transformed the film industry (if I can still use the word “film” ), but changes that have also brought new opportunities.

Scott W. Smith

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So after Kevin Smith was inspired by seeing Slacker, he wrote the script Clerks. After he wrote a the script he basically shot the film with a few friends who he could not afford to pay and covered the hard costs of production using basically personal credit cards.

In Smith’s mind if he was going to spend around $25,000. he wanted a feature film for his efforts rather than a film degree. (And many film schools are much more expensive than $25,000—and no feature film to show.) Smith was swinging for the fences.

After the film was shot and edited he took the film to the Independent Feature Film Market (IFFM) because he read that’s how Richard Linklater got a distribution deal for Slacker.  He knew he had made a profanity-laced film that perhaps his mother wouldn’t appreciate but was hoping to find a distributor who would help it find an audience. (His mother actually told him after seeing the film, “You spent twenty-seven thousand dollars on that piece of garbage?”)

Only about ten people showed up at IFFM Clerks screening and most of them were from the crew that worked on the film. Smith went home depressed. But one of the people at the screening was Bob Hawk of Independent Consultation for Independents who enjoyed the film and whose word of mouth created great buzz for the film early on.  But still nobody wanted the film.

Clerks made it to Sundance and only one company made an offer so Smith made a deal with Miramax. And that is what launched his career. (And paid off the credit cards.) But Smith will point out that he did not do this all on his own. One key person that he needed on his journey was producer Scott Mosier who Smith met in his brief time in film school. So even if you don’t care for his films listen to these words of wisdom:

“Maybe other cats know different, but without Mosier, I don’t think I could have done it or would have ever taken the first step. I would have dropped out of film school and gone back to the convenience store, maybe written a script that would sit on the shelf. It is finding that other person who gets you completely and knows where you are going, and knows how to make this happen with you and for you, and is on your side as you are on his.”
                                   Kevin Smith
                                  My First Movie
                                  20 Directors Talk About Their Film

                                  Edited by Stephen Lowenstein
                                  page 103

 

Scott W. Smith

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