AUSTIN – I’ve interviewed Richard Linklater twice. Once for “Bernie” and once for “Boyhood” – both times here at SXSW.
He’s a genuinely affable guy, fairly aw-shucks about his accomplishments. And, truth be told, I’ve always found that he has a way of talking about his films without really telling you too much about them. It’s a trait I actually admire in a director – he gives you some context, but he’s not going to do the heavy lifting for you.
He cracked open the door to his mind a little wider though on Saturday during a screening of “Richard Linklater – dream is destiny,” a documentary about his life and work. It’s co-directed by SXSW co-founder Louis Black – who’s known Linklater for three decades. And their familiarity and friendship leads to insightful discussions about his desire to make unconventional films about common human experiences and about how working largely outside the studio system has allowed him to stay creative.
The film touches on most of his movies, spending extra time on the cornerstones (“Slacker,” the “Before Sunrise” trio, “Boyhood”) while checking in on “Dazed and Confused,” “Waking Life” and others. (As an aside, during the Q&A, a voice called out from the Paramount Theatre crowd wondering why 1996’s “SubUrbia” was skipped. The question was asked with a grin by Dallas-raised Michael Barker, who runs Sony Pictures Classics, the studio that distributed the film.)
For Linklater fans (a group within I’m firmly entrenched), the doc both contextualizes the director’s oeuvre and takes us on an entertaining trip down memory lane. It’s kinda like watching all of his movies (minus “SubUrbia,” of course) in 90 minutes.
Among a few other tidbits that came out during and after the screening:
- Linklater spends his writing and post-production days in a wooded estate/nature preserve in Bastrop. “Kinda my own low-rent Skywalker Ranch,” he says in the film.
- “Before Sunrise” was initially going to take place on a train trip through Texas. Then a friend suggested that they set the story in Europe. The more romantic setting was nice, but the incentives offered across the pond were the real driver.
- Black says he never really asked Linklater if he and co-director Karen Bernstein could make a documentary about him. They just asked if they could interview him. And if they could shoot some footage on the set of his new film, “Everybody Wants Some.” And when they had the movie put together, they just crossed their fingers he’d sign off on it – which he eventually did.
Chris Vognar and I will discuss “Everybody Wants Some” on an episode of The Big Screen ahead of its April release.