It sounds cliche to say someone’s work has defined a generation. Like the term “genius” — it allows us to compartmentalize art, to stick it on a shelf or a podium, thus diminishing its vitality. But as a card-carrying member of Generation X, there’s really no filmmaker whose work has come to define my generation like that of Richard Linklater. From his questing, experimental, and often hilarious breakthrough 1991 Slacker to last year’s Boyhood, which he began shooting thirteen years ago, I’m hard-pressed to name another director whose movies have captured the restless spirit of their time. Of course Linklater belongs not only to those of us who came of age in the ’90s, but to any human being who questions their existence with humor and heart. And though we really don’t need any more proof than the filmography the Austin-based artist has assembled over the decades, Canadian film editor Joel Walden has, just the same, created the best tribute to Linklater’s work we’ve yet seen.
Sure, an Oscar for Best Director would have been welcome at Sunday night’s 2015 Academy Awards Ceremony, but who needs a shiny gold statue when you wear a crown with this many jewels? Linklater’s first feature-length film (It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books) is represented here along with his latest work and favorites like Dazed and Confused and SubUrbia, as well as the documentary Inning By Inning: A Portrait of a Coach, mainstream hits like School of Rock, animated films like Waking Like and A Scanner Darkly, and the Before Trilogy, considered by many to be his masterpiece. The list goes on and on. But the best part is that it’s still ongoing…
Note: Thanks to Indiewire for bringing this video to our attention.
Though we can all appreciate Linklater the artist, the best assessment of Linklater the man comes from the many people who’ve worked with him. Here’s Boyhood star Ellar Coltrane chatting with me from the red carpet of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (where I also interviewed Linklater himself) about the craziness of awards season, coming of age in Boyhood, and the most important thing he learned from his friend and mentor…
NERDIST: As someone who hasn’t participated in all this before, what’s your take on Hollywood’s awards season?
ELLAR COLTRANE: [Laughs.] It’s a pretty fascinating human practice. I don’t know. I couldn’t be more of an alien to this world. It’s incredible. People ask me, “Did you expect or dream about this?” Nothing was farther from my mind for the last twelve years. But it’s incredible to be in the middle of all this. It’s something that so few people ever see. It’s this big, smoke-and-mirrors thing that everyone sees from the outside. To be in the middle of it is surreal and amazing.
N: I can’t think of another human being who’s been in the position you’re in, growing as you have while making a movie. In addition to being a unique filmmaking experience, I’m sure Boyhood served as an education.
EC: Yeah, and just kind of a life project. I learned so much about acting and filmmaking and writing, and collaborating and communication. And just myself. It was kind of a constant reflection of what I was going through in addition to all the other things. It was an outlet to explore what I was going through as a child and a teenager. So it was a lot more than just a movie. To me anyways.
N: I’m sure you learned a great deal from working with Richard Linklater. What were the biggest things you learned over the years?
EC: I think the greatest thing that I’d say, probably, is just that… I mean I’ve known him for thirteen years, and we’ve been working on this movie for thirteen years. Now there’s all of this crazy stuff. Yet I’ve never heard him raise his voice even once. I think that’s what I learned from him.
N: Thanks for your time, Ellar. And congratulations on receiving the festival’s Virtuoso Award.
EC: Thank you!