Full Episode
Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny

Slacker. Indie filmmaker. Oscar nominee. Writer, director, producer, actor Richard Linklater (b. July 30, 1960) is all these things and more. Boasting a trove of never-before-seen archival footage, American Masters: Richard Linklater – dream is destiny provides an unconventional look at the fiercely independent style of filmmaking that emerged out of Austin, Texas in the late 1980s and 1990s with Linklater as its poster boy. The new documentary premieres nationwide Friday, September 1 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The film will be available to stream the following day via and PBS OTT apps.

Early writings from Linklater’s journals, telling interviews shot at his home and cinéma vérité footage from the set of Everybody Wants Some!! reveal his fearless approach and the extent to which his filmmaking existed, and continues to exist, decidedly outside of the production power bases of Hollywood and New York. Clips from his most beloved films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy and Boyhood, and new interviews with actors and collaborators Matthew McConaughey, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Julie Delpy and Kevin Smith, as well as colleagues and friends, including Kent Jones, John Pierson and the late Jonathan Demme, demonstrate his collaborative spirit and process.

Co-directed by Karen Bernstein, American Masters: Richard Linklater – dream is destiny marks the directorial debut of The Austin Chronicle editor and SXSW co-founder Louis Black. An original board member of the Austin Film Society founded by Linklater, who still serves as its artistic director, Black has long been a staple in the Austin filmmaking community and the extent to which he is inseparable from his subject is palpable throughout the documentary, which had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

“This film is not just about Richard Linklater and his films but the spirit and need of independent filmmakers and films, emphatically saying to all: just do it! Go and make your film!” said Louis Black.

“Having worked for American Masters in the 1990s, I knew that Richard Linklater would add new meaning to that pantheon of greatness in the arts, and am grateful to Michael Kantor and his staff for recognizing this as well,” said Karen Bernstein, who produced American Masters documentaries on Lou Reed, Ella Fitzgerald, Juilliard and others.

“Since bursting on the scene 26 years ago, Richard Linklater keeps reinventing the form of feature filmmaking. His astounding work has inspired not only audiences, but a whole independent film movement,” said Michael Kantor, American Masters series executive producer.

Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series’ 31st season on PBS features new documentaries about artist Tyrus Wong (September 8), author Edgar Allan Poe (October 30) and entertainer Bob Hope (December 29). To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive: previously unreleased interviews of luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.

American Masters: Richard Linklater – dream is destiny is a production of Black / Bernstein Productions LLC. Louis Black and Karen Bernstein are directors. Karen Bernstein, Louis Black and Dawn Johnson are producers. Nevie Owens is editor. David Layton is director of photography. Alan Berg, Abe Zimmerman, John and Amy McCall, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Michael Kantor are executive producers.

Major support for American Masters provided by AARP. Additional support provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Judith and Burton Resnick, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation and public television viewers. Additional funding for Richard Linklater – dream is destiny is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Transcript Print

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Film reel clicking ] [ ] Linklater: So I got off the bus.

The thought crossed my mind, you know, just for a second about not taking a cab at all.

But, you know, like, maybe walking or bumming a ride or something like that.

You know, I'm kind of broke right now.

I should have done that, probably.

But just because that thought crossed my mind, there now exists at this very second a whole nother reality where I'm at the bus station, you know, and you're probably giving someone else a ride.

You know?

I mean, and that reality thinks of itself as this -- thinks of itself as the only reality, you know?

I mean, at this very second, I'm in that.

I'm back at the bus station, just hanging out, you know, probably thumbing through a paper.

You know, we're hitting it off.

Go play a little pinball.

And we -- we go back to her apartment.

I mean, she has this great apartment, you know.

I move in with her! You know?

And, see, if I -- say I have a dream some night that I'm with some strange woman I've never met, or I'm, you know, living at some place I've never seen before, see, Man [bleep] I should have stayed at the bus station.

[ ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct chatter ] [ Camera shutters clicking ] We're just glad it's finished, that we all survived 12 years.

Pierson: What's beautiful to me about 'Boyhood' is that it encapsulates all the things that he's been doing all along.

♪♪ Coltrane: He had an idea and just kind of got lost in it and did it, and he never really worried about, 'Is it gonna happen?'

Johansson: And the Spirit Award goes to... Cruise: And the BAFTA goes to... Kingsley: The Critics' Choice is... Streep: And the Golden Globe goes to 'Boyhood.'

♪♪ Pierson: You know, movies are really about time.

And Rick, he's been making movies that are about time.

And he has from the start.

Black: We have another call. Let's take that.

It's on line two. It's Robert.

Caller: Hello.

I'd like to compliment your gift.

For once, somebody not trying to make a film with a bunch of explosions... Linklater: There was an explosion.

Caller: ...blasts, a big body count or anything.

A film about people.

You know, and I'd really like to compliment you for that.

Linklater: Oh, well, thanks a lot.

I think that's what I'm mainly interested in, just in cinema.

Make films about real people in real situations, more or less.

It was a film we could do in our own neighborhood very inexpensively, so it kind of grew out of our restrictions and our local environment, I think.

Run through in here.

Woman: I didn't like the world.

Coltrane: He kind of has to construct a different world to express what he feels about this one.

Man: I'm losing the light. Can we shoot?

Linklater: Okay. Let's get this in here.

Ron: Oh, it's gonna be six weeks.

Woman: What's six weeks, Ron?

Ron: Six weeks to get this scene shot.

Man #1: Let's go.

Woman: Are we running through this, or what?

Man #2: What angle is that? Man #3: What angle is that?

We're gonna do one run-through, and then we're gonna shoot it.

Linklater: Hey, we're gonna run through it one more time and then put angles up, okay?

Pallotta: I remember the first time I saw 'Slacker,' it felt like a snapshot in time.

But I never would have imagined that it would have a more universal appeal.

Smith: In 1991, making a movie anywhere but New York or Los Angeles as an indie filmmaker, that was unheard of.

Linklater: It was just a really kind of exciting time.

Like, a whole world had opened up.

Film had sort of taken hold of me as worth my time.

I was amazed looking back how much patience I had.

[ Pinball machine dings ] It wasn't something that just came overnight.

Jesse: This is real life.

It's not perfect, but it's real.

Arquette: Rick wasn't making movies according to the blockbuster standard.

Willis: Hey.

Arquette: I think he just isn't willing to compromise. Wyatt: Loosey-goosey.

[ Crowd cheering ] McConaughey: He's an athlete, and he's highly competitive.

Welles: Our business together is to create the best art we can.

Pallotta: I think you see, with his body of work, a sort of consistency and vision.

And it's really amazing how he's been able to navigate his stories and in his way.

Girl: The moment seizes us.

Mason: Yeah.

Linklater: It's a lot of work, and people don't want to hear that.

No one wants to think how they would have to alter their life.

Man: Rolling.

Hawke: Rick is not looking through Hollywood's eyes.

he doesn't care how Hollywood sees him.

He's -- It's a valuable tool. He loves Hollywood.

He doesn't need anybody else to make his dreams come true.

[ Indistinct chatter ] Linklater: All right, action!

♪♪ Black: When you see his process, you don't go, 'How the [bleep] does he do it?

He's a [bleep] mad genius!

If only I could think like he thinks!'

When you see his process, you go, 'Oh, it's just hard work.'

[ Vehicles passing ] [ Cicadas chirping ] Linklater: This is the sole surviving thing.

Like, having lost absolutely everything in my archive, this is the non-archivable, not worthy of even -- stuff I never thought twice about.

This is, like, college and just working offshore and moving to Austin and trying -- Like, the early film stuff.

Just, like, I'm writing scripts without even a film -- just by hand and stuff.

It's -- They're pretty -- pretty funny.

It was kind of embarrassing.

I think this is as far as it got, I would think.

It was all these things.

Then I realized, 'Oh, I'm not ready to actually make a movie-movie yet.'

And then by the time I was, this was, like, no longer something I was interested in expressing.

You know, just, 'Eh.'


Black: 'The screen is filled with a pair of hands fingering a deck of cards.

The hands flip a card toward the camera and continue.'

Linklater: See? I had some cool shots.

Black: It's a good shot.

Linklater: It was all about -- I had some cool slow motion.

It was all shots.

I was gonna -- But I ended up doing shorts and getting that kind of crap out of my system.

Black: [ Chuckling ] That's pretty amazing.

Linklater: Yeah, I -- You know, I think I was always working on something.

Even though I wasn't ready, it was all leading up to something.

You know, when you grow up in Huntsville, Texas, it doesn't cross your mind, 'Oh, I can make a film.'

I thought, at best, wanted to be a novelist.

♪♪ [ Film reel clicking ] ♪♪ ♪♪ Yeah, I remember my -- my teenage ambition was to be a novelist and to... And also a Major League Baseball player.

I was serious about it. I was reading and writing and -- I realize now, looking back, I just was trying to express something, you know, trying to express myself, and writing felt like the only way.

Jacque Linklater: As he got older and then we did notice, 'Can I go stay a couple nights in the cabin in the woods?'

And he was going to write a book or do -- [ Laughs ] Chuck Linklater: Do a biography of Dostoevsky, which is pretty unusual for a high-school senior.

♪♪ [ Paper rustles, pen scribbles ] He was one of these sharp kids that would kind of pick up on anything.

With Rick, he would do something on his own.

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, comes this express interest in something.

♪♪ Tricia Linklater: We have an older sister, Susan.

I'm in the middle.

And Rick is the youngest.

All very close Catholic family.

My parents stayed married for 12 years.

I was 9 when they divorced and Rick would have been 8 and we moved with Mom up to Huntsville, a much smaller town between Houston and Dallas, with 15,000 people and one stop light.

Prisons and farms and ranches -- Huntsville was just, you know, much more rural.

And we were in this town with one movie theater.

Back then, kids just did what they were told.

And you -- you weren't allowed to have a lot of opinions about it.

It's just like, 'Well, this is what we're doing.

We're moving and you're leaving all your friends and here's our new house and here's your new school and you'll figure it out.'

[ Paper rustling ] [ Pen scribbling ] Linklater: I drifted into a playwriting class, and that really got me going, like, 'Well, maybe that's' -- I had all these -- These characters were just kind of talking.

That opened up a world to me.

♪♪ That second semester -- That's probably the key semester of my whole life was... I had had this heart rhythmic problem, so I was on scholarship, but suddenly, I-I couldn't play anymore.

I couldn't run.

So I had my afternoons and evenings free.

You know, when you're on -- When you're playing ball, that's kind of what you do.

You go to class in the morning, and then your life is baseball.

So it was amazing to me to suddenly have all this time.

You know, at 12:30 in the afternoon, I could go to the library and leave at 11:00 at night and have read so much and written, and I just -- That was my best semester ever.

That was really what my 20s were gonna be -- just kind of me on my own, following my own motivations.

Chuck Linklater: So with Rick, it's nothing but a work in progress.

You know, he just sees the potential in everything, and, you know, once something turns out badly, well, then, you write it off and go on and look for other opportunities.

[ Helicopter blades whirring ] Linklater: And I got a job working offshore, kind of a summer thing.

And I thought, 'Well, if I can't play baseball, maybe I won't go back to school. I'll just' -- And I was making good money for the first time.

I never had a high-paying job.

I was always the busboy.

So I mean, it was manual labor, but I was -- I didn't care.

I was that young.

You don't think about stuff like that.

You know, I was kind of buying my way to freedom.

I started off that summer wanting to save up money and move to New York and, you know, be an off-Broadway playwright.

By the end of that summer, I want to make movies.

It's that simple.

I-I had -- In my downtime in Houston, I just found myself going to movies.

I might be offshore for 12 straight days, but the second I hit land, you know, most of the guys out there started going to bars.

I just wanted to get home and go to movies.

And I think there was a certain void in my life, and I just found myself wandering into movie theaters.

I just got really fascinated in the history of film, the storytelling.

I was just kind of falling in love with cinema.

[ ] Cassavetes talks about film as a parallel universe for people who don't like the real world.

They don't know how to dress or be normal or be official.

And I think I agree.

Like, film -- the film world was just this other world that encompassed the world, but I preferred it.

I think I discovered my medium, you know?

I felt that motivator.

I could just see it.

I just felt I could make a movie.

Jacque Linklater: And so we were kind of excited.

I was excited about Rick moving to Austin.

You know, we thought he was going back to school.

And he did, uh, in a way. [ Laughs ] But this will be a good change and a good experience for him.

Walker: For Rick, growing up in East Texas, we like to say behind the pine curtain, Austin was literally the way station to an escape.

[ Horn honks, indistinct announcement on P.A. system ] Once you made it that far, you had a chance.

You know, you had a chance, finally.

[ Pen scribbling ] Linklater: I had to pick somewhere to live and thought New York, LA, San Francisco much too big a leap.

♪♪ There were really cool niches, and I felt that moving to Austin.

Like, suddenly everyone I met was an artist of some kind.

♪♪ Pallotta: And I think at that time, you could sort of live on a small amount of money.

You didn't have to work a lot.

So in that sense, there was, like, a lot of -- a lot of hyper-educated people.

And it just sort of afforded you a lifestyle that you could make things and take risks.

♪♪ Linklater: And then I just bought, you know, some editing equipment, a projector, some good sound gear and a camera and a bunch of film stock and just thought, 'Okay, this is what I'm gonna do.'

♪♪ There was a group back then called the Heart of Texas Filmmakers.

And I kind of wandered into a meeting, and there was a guy there who had showed his student film that he had just completed with two other people -- 'Le Dare,' by Lee Daniel.

He shot that on 16.

But he was shooting a lot of Super 8, too.

So I kind of started helping him out.

Jacque Linklater: When he started getting into film, it was kind of, like, 'Well, you know, can you make a living doing this?

You know, do you have a background?'

We really thought he would be a sports writer.

[ Birds chirping ] Tricia Linklater: They were worried.

They didn't know what he would amount to.

We didn't really know what he was doing.

Man: Woodstock afoot! Woodstock rules! Aaaah!

Demme: I became aware of Austin as kind of, like, a cultural Mecca.

In addition to all these great young bands, there were great young filmmakers.

There's a sense of, like, the music feeding the films, and vice versa, from the get-go.

It's like, 'Wow!'

Woman: Where do you work?

Man: I work at McDonald's, and this is my new album, 'Hi, How Are You?'

Linklater: I really saw those early films as just technical exercises.

But it wasn't so much storytelling.

It's a long way before your formal skills, technical abilities, catch up with your ideas.

I had kind of gotten interested in minimalism and the narrative avant-garde because those films, they're more conceptual.

You know, I didn't require a big crew or cast or anything.

So I kind of conceived the film around the limitations of where I was at.

So I was taking a train trip to visit a high-school buddy up in Montana.

So I started the film on that trip.

It was really my own little private film school.

Yeah, I remember I turned 25.

I was on the train, staring out the window with my Super 8 camera shooting, going, 'God, what was Orson Welles doing at my...?' [ Laughs ] What haunts every filmmaker.

Maybe I'll have a better second or third act.

♪♪ It was that test -- Could I conceptualize, do, and then finish, learn what I learned, and then move on?

Because I had ideas.

I just had to get to them, and I knew that was a step.

Just finishing one thing might propel something else.

[ Water running ] Kind of built up a little confidence, really, in myself as a filmmaker.

♪♪ Walker: I remember him set up his little tripod, his 8-millimeter camera, and he would turn it on and run around in front of the camera and act out a scene and run back and turn it off.

And then he would reach down to his waist, where he had a Sony Walkman recorder, and switch that off 'cause he'd been recording audio by himself.

And he was making a film by himself.

And you can't stop somebody like that.

There's no way to stop them.

♪♪ Linklater: I needed community. I wanted community.

I didn't want it to be a solo effort.

Ultimately, I didn't want to be a writer.

That's a lonely thing.

I wanted to be part of an artistic troupe.

I wanted to be part of a group, you know?

It's just so much more fun and collaborative and just better.

So the Film Society slowly gets borne out of that desire to kind of create a -- have a community, and that's where the Film Society starts in '85.

I took the Film Society very seriously.

So I said, 'Yeah, we could be a nonprofit.'

You know, I was always nurturing that, but I never really differentiated -- You know, I could be working on my own parallel projects, but also, like, showing films meant a lot to me.

So it was all one.

What is this?

This is, like, a little time capsule of some kind.

These were the stickers we were putting up everywhere.

I could practically manage a Kinko's at this point, having run the Film Society -- you know, like, making fliers and everything.

So, yeah, we just manufactured a ton of these.

We were just kind of putting them up everywhere.

Just before anyone knew what it was -- 'Is that a band? What is it?'

I think the Film Society taught me everything I needed to know to, like, hustle.

Like, this is the kind of thing we would do for the Film Society.

It was just weird five years later to be doing it for our own film.

Okay, well, prickly pear -- not such a big laugh.

Just a -- If anything, a slight smirk, okay?

Walker: I knew this guy was hooked.

He loved film as much as anyone I've known ever loved film, and it bubbled over into the impulse to make films.

Man #1: Okay, Rick. Man #2: Action.

♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] Man #3: Hey, got a cigarette?

Pallotta: He'd been shooting a Super 8 movie, and I think he was just finishing that up and he's like, 'Hey, I'm gonna do another movie.

This time it's gonna be in 16-millimeter.'

And he brought out a sheet of paper.

'This is gonna be it.'

And I took it and I opened it up and it was, like, a poster-sized piece of paper.

And that was all he had.

Like, and I didn't know anything about movies, but I knew that, like, you had a script, generally, and stuff like that.

But he was like, 'No, this is -- This is how we're gonna make this movie and I'm gonna get distribution for it and everybody's gonna see it.'

And I said -- didn't believe him, but I thought he was as broke as I was, but he somehow was making stuff, so I should probably watch what this guy's doing.

Walker: Austin in the 1980s was at the tail end of another boom-and-bust cycle.

There were a lot of abandoned warehouses to be exploited.

There was the freedom to do what you wanted to do, and no one cared.

When we set about to film 'Slacker,' we talked to each other and said, 'Where can we go make a movie where we cannot get permission to film at a location, lay dolly track across the street, interrupt traffic if we need to, and basically do what we want?'

The answer came -- downtown Austin.

Downtown Austin was the place where no one would bother us.

And if you look in the scenes, there's no one wandering in the background.

Man: [ Whistling ] [ Indistinct chatter ] Man #2: Quit following me.

You heard me. Quit following me.

Linklater: Well, we were lucky to get you.

Black: I wasn't gonna go 'cause I -- These are film programmers!

These are not filmma-- I mean, it's like, 'These are not filmmakers!'

Linklater: Remember my direction to you?

It's like, 'Well, you're playing a really paranoid guy,' and you went, 'Well, I'm the most paranoid person in the world.

So that's no problem.'

And you nailed it.

I think if we wouldn't have gotten, you know, the free ad support and editorial support, it might not have gotten off the ground.

So that's what I always say.

Austin's a really cool town for that access.

♪♪ Black: I'm fascinated by writers and filmmakers and musicians who have got to do their work.

And so I've spent much of my career facilitating that.

Pierson: The way things started between me and Rick is he actually wrote me a letter -- a letter that reflected the many aspects of his character right from the get-go.

And it made it clear that just the degree to which he was training himself to have a command of how the world worked and how the -- how the film might fit into the bigger world.

Man: Budding capitalist youth.

Pierson: So it was a good time for the growth of the American independent film both artistically and, I think, commercially.

And 'Slacker' certainly fit.

But 'independent film' meant New York.

So it was interesting to have somebody working in another part of the country.

The beauty of 'Slacker' is one of those stories that you figure out retroactively.

It fit into this sort of generational tide, but it was -- the whole idea was that it somehow spoke for Generation X.

And it became a part of that cultural moment.

And I think that had a lot to do with why it got traction.

♪♪ Walker: The ones who are looking to create something that hasn't been done before, looking to find their own way on the margins of society, looking for freedom, which is, you know, not in the wide-open spaces.

Pallotta: Rick -- In his mind, he knew that he was gonna find an audience for this movie.

I certainly didn't think that it was gonna have the sort of cultural impact that it had.

It really sort of hit into some sort of zeitgeist at that moment, and it became a mainstream thing.

Ebert: Siskel: Linklater: It got -- You know, we were showing up in every magazine.

Now I think you make the same film, and it would be like, 'Oh, another indie film.


You know, I don't -- I don't -- I was definitely born at the right time, I think, to catch the indie as vibrant, cultural thing.

You just don't -- I don't -- I don't think you'd get this kind of support now.

Barker: What convinced us to go for the movie is had done some sort of article where they alluded to the fact that the dictionary was considering putting the word 'slacker' in the dictionary.

so here was a movie that didn't look commercial in any way, shape, or form, and we decided to pursue it because it was a new voice.

♪♪ You hope that the critics that love the film notice the things that we've noticed.

And we really toured Rick around the country to promote because the film is him.

Linklater: We were hoping to self-distribute to some degree at best, put some videos out there, maybe get into a film festival or two.

Maybe European TV would buy this weird thing from Texas.

But the fact that this little non-narrative from nowhere could fit into that world didn't really -- That was kind of a pipe dream.

I would never say that out loud.

You know, that would be embarrassing.

♪♪ Pierson: If you look at that moment in American independent film history, you'll see films that succeed because they speak for an audience that hadn't seen itself onscreen very much.

Delony: What do you think the CIA's down there hacking the hell out of that forest, huh?

Make sense? Sure it does.

Yeah, this drug takes away your long-term memory, leaves your short-term memory.

So there you are.

Pallotta: When you're making something with him, you kind of feel like it's very loose until you see the end result, and then you sort of realize, like, how structured it is.

And at that time, with, like, the independent filmmaking hadn't really seen anything like that at that time.

So he was already sort of bringing a level of -- of craftsmanship to his movies, even though it had, like, no budget.

Rick's one of the best collaborators I know.

And he trusts people.

And he expects people to -- to do their best.

But it's -- it's always Rick's film.

Delony: Tell you what. Listen.

I'm gonna stick around outside just for a little while, you know, and, uh, kind of make sure everything's okay.

You know, make sure we weren't followed.

Smith: August 2, 1991.

That's when I go see 'Slacker,' on my 21st birthday.

I'd never imagined, before seeing that movie, myself as a storyteller, let alone a filmmaker.

But he held a mirror up to a world that I knew even though it was a world away.

Man: Ready? Woman: Waiting on Rick.

Smith: Richard Linklater made it seem possible.

Man: Rolling. Okay, Rick.

Linklater: Action.

Walker: I think we were all surprised at the end of the process of making 'Slacker' that when it came time to fill in the blanks, that, really, Rick had directed and produced and written the picture.

I think that's part of his skill as a director is that he's getting what he wants the way he knows how to do it, which is to include everyone in his vision.

But while you're doing it, you're pretty sure it's your vision, too.

[ Indistinct chatter ] ♪♪ Woman: I think he'll be having his birthday.

[ Laughter ] [ Laughter ] Whoo!

Linklater: Being young is to want, you know?

These guys -- They sort of want everything, but then that's what youth is.

You -- Not only do you want everything.

You kind of assume it's yours, you think.

Page 64, scene 44.

[ Clears throat ] Okay, locker room.

This feels like my second or third movie.

Just the approach is very youthful.

It's college.

It feels like something I would have done a long time ago.

But I think I'm bringing to it a lot more experience.

So it kind of makes me think a little bit, 'Oh, how have I gotten -- What have I learned over the two decades or what -- You know, what do I know?'

And then you sort of challenge yourself -- 'Can I still pull off a movie like this?'

But then it's like, 'Well, I've kind of maybe gotten better at it.'

Where's he going with that beverage?

I mean, you probably want a little something.

You don't mind if others hear, but you would kind of... Black: When Rick decides to stay in Austin after 'Slacker,' the entire film scene that we see today comes from that moment.

Interviewer: Linklater: Interviewer: Linklater: Walker: It kind of became the Rick show, sure.

But he was good at it, and we made a good film together.

So it just -- You know, I think -- I think Sam Huston knows that a volunteer army fights one battle and then goes home.

And so with 'Slacker,' we fought one big battle, and we won.

♪♪ Assistant Director: You're making out.

You're drinking.

Whatever you've been assigned to do.

When I say 'move,' you stop doing those things.

You notice the fight, and you move in.

Now, anyone who doesn't understand that, make yourself known right now.

[ Indistinct chatter ] All right, so what are you gonna do on background?

What you've been doing for the past three days.

Start acting.

♪♪ [ Indistinct chatter ] Adair: I really knew nothing about him.

I had heard that he had made a film named 'Slacker' that I hadn't seen and that he was a young director and this was his first real feature -- a studio film and was gonna have a decent budget and that they might be looking for an editor.

I wanted to work on this film so bad, but I didn't know who he was.

He was a complete stranger, and very -- He was just -- He didn't come off and look like a director that would have the longevity that he's had.

He just looked like a young guy.

He was a kid at that point.

♪♪ Pierson: To go from 'Slacker' to 'Dazed and Confused' was kind of mind-blowing.

Nobody would really look at 'Slacker,' which is essentially a non-narrative film, or a constructed-narrative film, and think that he would make something that was just so -- so entertaining on -- on a so much more general level.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Linklater: I remember driving up first day of production, and same kind of thing.

I'm driving up in my own car, but I'm passing all these trucks and all these things.

I had visited film sets over the years and said, 'I'll never need this.

I just need a camera and a sound crew, and, you know, I'm gonna keep it small.

And I don't need all that other stuff.'

But you realize, 'Oh, you're making a film for a studio.'

I had learned just enough to, like, 'Oh, it's all necessary.

Here, it's called a professional production.

It's called how you do it.'

♪♪ It must be like a pro athlete taking your first at bat in the major leagues.

You know, 'I've been in the minors, been in college, but suddenly, there's 40,000 people.

Like, okay, I'm at a new level.

Well, this is where you want to be.

Okay. You're ready.

Go -- Go tell your story.

Go make your movie.'

[ School bell rings ] Teacher: Hey, guys, one more thing.

Hey, this summer, when you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial 4th of July brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic white males didn't want to pay their taxes. Student: Yeah!

Linklater: You know, you look at a genre and just say, 'Oh, I've got my own teenage film to make.'

I was always trying to capture, like, a moment or the essence of it.

I didn't have a great plot, but I had, like, the texture of it.

I had, like, the feel of it.

Darla: All right, you little freshman bitches!

Air raid!

Linklater: It was kind of magical, re-creating a period and the atmosphere of a point in time.

Nostalgia kind of suggests a warm glow, like, 'Oh, what a great time.'

I didn't have that feeling about this.

And I think that comes through in the movie, if you really break it down.

But yet you look back on it -- You know, there's something kind of great about it, too.

[ Foghat's 'Slow Ride' plays ] ♪ ♪ Adair: There was something about the footage that we were getting that was so genuine.

I felt like I'd really never seen that kind of footage before.

Whatever it was that he managed to do, pulling that ensemble together, was an incredible experience to be able to watch the dailies and just go, 'Oh, my God, these kids are nailing it!'

And the only reason they're nailing it is because it was well-cast, and they trust Rick.

Linklater: And just read it in your mind again.

Woman: Yeah, okay.

You know, I really like Tony's last, um, column about this decade.

What was that line?

'The uncertainties of the '60s have been sold out for the certainty of boredom in the '70s.'

Maybe the '80s will be radical, you know?

I figure we'll be in our 20s.

McConaughey: Rick gave all the cast members albums and goes, 'This is what I think your guy or your girl would be listening to.'

That, number one, is brilliant because it's not a director telling anyone what to do.

You get to go off and listen to music from the time and the place, and the director thinks it's what you'd be listening to?

Then the actor gets to own whatever they come up with about what that means.

We love that stuff.

Ebert: Tricia Linklater: You only have one shot at an opening, and it was a bad opening weekend.

The posters made it seem like a drug movie, which wouldn't have played well in the Midwest.

It was really frustrating for Rick.

It was pretty contentious at the end.

[ Film reel clicking ] Linklater: The studio just dumped it completely and gave it to an indie distributor.

That's when I knew I was in trouble 'cause I thought, 'Well, this is kind of my commercial film, you know?

This is a teenage rock 'n' roll, fun movie.

If this isn't commercial, what am I doing,' you know?

So they did everything they could for the film not to make money.

♪♪ I got very lucky that I got that film made.

I mean, every now and then, they kind of just want to be in business with you and see what you've got.

You know, they give you that chance.

And so you -- you take it.

♪♪ Oh, more poker group notes.


Black: This is what you spend money on.

Linklater: Oh, yeah.

Black: 'Beer, gas, movie, Pepsi, movie, gas, Pepsi, breakfast, movie, movie, Pepsi, movie.'

Linklater: A lot of Pepsis and movies.

Isn't that funny?

Black: 'Movie, Pepsi, movie, movie.'

Linklater: Even though I had 18 grand in the bank when I moved to Austin, I was gonna -- determined to live as cheap -- I think by 'Walden,' you know, and Thoreau writes, like, every penny.

And I thought I was kind of doing that.

I said, 'Well, how much does it cost for me to live?'

You know, my rent's $150 a month, all bills paid.

My gas -- So I kept a journal.

I wrote every movie I saw and -- and every penny I spent just to do an analysis of how long I could live on my -- how much money I had.

Isn't that funny? How much was a movie?

Black: 'Movie, Pepsi' -- $1.75.

On 10/31, a movie, and on 11/1, two movies and a Pepsi.

Drinking a lot of Pepsi.

Linklater: [ Laughs ] Pepsi.

I haven't had a Pepsi in 25 years.

Man: It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the opening night press conference of the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.

We're really very pleased.

We couldn't be more pleased to have actually a group of old friends back at the festival this year -- Rick Linklater, who actually premiered his -- his first feature here, 'Slacker,' several years ago.

Julie, who was here last year.

Ethan, who's been here I think a couple of different times, both as a director and as an actor.

We're very, very pleased to have everyone here for the world premiere of tonight's opening night 'Before Sunrise.' Without further ado... Sloss: Rick had written 'Before Sunrise' to be filmed on a train, like, to San Antonio.

And I just said something simple, like, 'Why don't we set it in Europe?

That way, we can get -- take advantage of all these subsidies.'

'Cause back then, there were no state subsidies.

[ Train rails screech ] Jesse: I want to keep talking to you, you know?

I have no idea what your situation is, but, uh -- but I feel like we have some kind of connection, right?

Celine: Yeah, me, too.

Jesse: Yeah, right. Well, great.

So listen. Here's the deal. This is what we should do.

You should get off the train with me here in Vienna and come check out the town.

Celine: What? Jesse: Come on. It'll be fun.

Come on.

Celine: What would we do?

Jesse: Um, I don't know.

All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30, and I don't really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just gonna walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me.

Delpy: He was looking to explore romance maybe in a way that he doesn't know how to explore.

Rick is a very practical man.

I'm sure he's romantic at times, but his idea of romance is not at all like those characters.

And so I think in us, he was looking for that romance that he's not fully in.

♪♪ Sloss: The script for 'Before Sunrise' was a tough read.

There was a lot of speechifying.

There were huge Thomas Mann quotes and things like that.

Linklater: It was a tough film to get off the ground.

Celine: You know, I believe if there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us -- not you or me -- but just this little space in between.

Hawke: It was an unprecedented level of involvement that he was asking Julie and I to do.

And I'd never had anybody want me to contribute.

And he said, 'I want to make a movie about the most dramatic thing that's ever happened to me, which is truly connecting with another human being.'

Celine: If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.

Hawke: He was very, very interested in form and content and doing something new.

Celine: After tomorrow morning, we -- we're probably never gonna see each other again, right?

Jesse: You don't think we'll ever see each other again?

Celine: What do you think?

♪♪ Linklater: It came down to there were two guys, two girls, and I just mixed and matched and just saw them together, and it's like, 'Oh, Ethan and Julie had the best chemistry,' or they had the -- the quickest minds.

They were -- They were what I was looking for.

They seemed the most creative, too, because I knew it was gonna take -- The intimacy that would be required and the honesty that would be required from them to make this thing connect, if it ever was going to, was a big challenge.

Celine: We were in the lunch car, and he began to talk about him as a little boy seeing his great-grandmother's ghost.

I think that's when I fell for him.

Just the idea of this little boy with all those beautiful dreams.

Adair: He knows his characters.

He knows them so well.

And he also understands the kinds of films that he's making.

One of Rick's most keen talents is his ability to cast the right person for the right part.

Hawke: I-I always kind of wanted to do a movie.

Whenever you're doing a big, complicated thing, you always say, 'I really wish I was doing a film about, you know, a guy and a girl talking to each other.'

And then this one kind of came about.

And then I realized kind of what a terrifying aspect that was.

And figured you only get that kind of opportunity every blue moon, so we took it.

[ Insects chirping ] Celine: I know.

Linklater: I think I've always been trying to tell stories in a -- in a way to me that feels very organic to how life feels, but trying to make that work in a -- you know, the confines of narrative expectation.

[ Indistinct P.A. announcement ] Like, what do I have to offer?

You know, I don't want to just redo and mash up a bunch of stuff that's been done before.

I think I have -- I got my own version of all this stuff.

So, you know, you got your own take on the world.

[ Whistle blows ] People would ask, like, 'Well, did they see each other again six months later?'

But no one said, 'Are you gonna do a sequel?'

Just there were three people in the world who maybe wanted a sequel to that, and that was Julie and Ethan and I.

I-I think we were afraid of the idea until I had a scene in 'Waking Life,' which we shot in the summer of '99.

And I think at the end of that, we had fun, and we kind of looked at each other and go, 'You know, maybe we should think about' -- because at that point, you know, we realized Celine and Jesse were still kind of with us.

Man: Serving your life from the perspective of... Adair: I started hearing rumblings about there being a sequel.

And I was in disbelief. I was like, 'What?! What are you talking about, 'There's gonna be a sequel'?' And then it started to make sense.

Yeah, catch up with them nine years later.

How -- What are they gonna be up to?

Jesse: He says that we are the sum of all the moments of our lives and that, uh, anybody who sits down to write is gonna use the clay of their own life, that you can't avoid that.

Linklater: We sort of decided to take the first part of it -- that encounter -- and, 'What if we did it in actual real time?'

Like, that would be the narrative.

You know, the sun's going down.

We've got a flight to catch.


It's almost like doing a walking, talking play.

You know, you can't cut anything.

Technically, you've painted yourself in a corner.

Jesse: Oh, yeah? Celine: Yeah.

Adair: Many directors, I think, would have shot, you know, moving POVs of the buildings and the, you know, Eiffel Tower, some of the scenery moving, and he didn't really shoot any of that.

And it's about what's happening right there in that moment right then and the power of that moment.

Celine: I want to kill them.

Why didn't they ask me to marry them?

I would have said no, but at least they could have asked!

But it's my fault.

I know it's my fault because I never felt it was the right man, never!

But what does it mean, 'the right man'? The love of your life? The concept is absurd.

The idea that we can only be complete with another person is evil, right? Jesse: Can I talk?

Delpy: I was fired by my agent at the time because he said to me, 'You're wasting your time writing the sequel to a movie that no one cared about, a movie that no one will want to see.

I mean, you know, what are you doing, instead of going to the audition for 'Rush Hour 3'?' ♪♪ Celine: Oh.

Ooh, yeah. Mm-hmm.

[ Chuckles ] Baby.

You are gonna miss that plane.

Hawke: 'Before Sunset' kind of saved my life.

I was really hurting at that moment in my life, and then there was this safe, little bubble, this place, this Jesse and Celine world, you know, where the light is always golden and you always have friends there.

And being in... in that room, writing that movie with the two of them and acting with Julie and running lines with Julie, and I remember we did the first shot of 'Before Sunset' when Jesse and Celine were together.

Rick had this look on his face.

I go, 'What is it?'

He goes, 'I'm just so happy to see them.'

[ Indistinct chatter ] ♪♪ Man: Cut the chatter, please. We're rehearsing here.

Be quiet.

All right, everybody ready?

This is picture.

[ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] Man: Do you mind if I play off that like, when he says... [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ Man 1: Drafted out of high school?

Man 2: No.

I don't know that we're -- Are we ready to shoot now?

Linklater: Well, performance-wise we are.

♪♪ If you're gonna make a lot of movies, you're gonna have -- I just kind of count my lucky stars.

You can't -- You just can't predict or control what happens to your movie after you finish it.

♪♪ Glasscock: According to the odds and the gods... you only get to make one mistake with this.

We should probably leave now.

[ Explosion ] Linklater: I had a similar experience with the studio that I had had on 'Dazed,' where I got the movie that was in my heart -- I got it made, and the studio behind it just looked at it and went, 'It's' -- You know, they weren't that interested in it.

I don't know. What am I doing?

I'm the GenX guy.

'What are you -- You shouldn't be making films like this.'

That was the consensus.

♪♪ Interviewer: You know, and there's all this anxiety here at the South by Southwest Festival.

You know, people worry about Hollywoodism and sell-out.

Linklater: I don't have any problem taking someone's money to make a movie that I really want to make.

I'm not being hired by Hollywood to do one of their films.

This is my own film. You know, whatever level.

I've always admired the Scorseses of the world who can get their own films made.

[ ] Dock: Willis: Ebert: Linklater: I understand, you know, the disappointment, I guess, when a film doesn't perform.

But I haven't actually had the bad experience creatively, where the film got taken from me, or I never -- the final film isn't what I wanted at all.

That would be heartbreaking.

That might make you want to quit filmmaking.

♪♪ McConaughey: 'Newton Boys' laid where it laid, but I don't think he carries into the next day of, like, 'That was my studio shot.'

Well, I say -- I always say about Rick he's so Buddhist he doesn't even know he's Buddhist.

The clock in his truck is somewhere between two and nine hours off of what the real time is.

The station in his truck -- Usually, if the station's 93.1, it'll be on, like, 93.2 and have a little bit of scratch coming into it.

[ Laughs ] He wants to keep everything just a little off, and not for manipulative reasons.

I think that's just where he's comfortable.

Linklater: When I first got the property, as far as I could tell, no one had really been on the property for at least 30 to 50 years.

There was no, like, presence of anything.

But I clayed it in, and that kept water in year round.

And that really kick-started the ecosystem out here -- the birds, ducks, everything.

We have an endangered species out here -- the Houston toad.

One big habitat.

You can hear them croaking at night.

[ Ducks quacking ] I've always used it as kind of a refuge from kind of a quiet place to write, which I think I can maintain that and still have it be a little more production-related, you know, especially post-production.

Good place to edit.

Kind of my own low-rent Skywalker Ranch.

You know, people can come stay out here, trying to bring the world to me, you know?

[ Laughs ] Best you can.

I like archways.

♪♪ Once I was able to design the spaces that you inhabit, you live in, it's really a special relationship.

Instead of moving into some box someone else made, kind of make your own box.

There's just kind of something natural about it.

Really cool.

You kind of forgive your own mistakes.

[ Ducks quacking ] McConaughey: Rick dreams a lot more than a lot of people I know daily.

Whatever he does out there in Bastrop, I think he's doing it all the time.

[ Typewriter keys clacking ] Pallotta: After 'Newton Boys,' he wanted to be able to make movies and not have to depend on anybody to make them.

So he wanted to find a way to tell stories.

He didn't want to be dependent on somebody telling you how you could do that.

[ Clacking continues ] Linklater: I had other films I was trying to get made, you know, just as always.

But I realized, 'Oh, I'm kind of' -- It's that moment that year after, you go, 'Oh, I'm really -- I'm dead, you know?'

Like, no one will -- They'll have meetings, but no one's gonna fund this movie I'm trying to do or that movie.

I was kind of at the -- kind of my pre-'Slacker' mentality of, like, 'Okay, well, you've just got to go do -- do something.

You know, just make that crazy film you've been thinking about for a long time.'

Okay, this'll be a series, too, most likely.

Yeah, I got it down there.

Jones: In order to be that independent, he's gonna have to have his ups and downs.

This is a guy who adapts to circumstances.

Adair: I got the call -- 'We're shooting this film and we're shooting it on DV cameras and it's gonna be animated and so we're gonna cut it on this new platform called Final Cut Pro.'

And there were a lot of new things that were happening all at once.

And I think the DV camera format allowed him the ease of shooting these films in Austin with a very small budget.

♪♪ Pallotta: And so I think it was about him trying to -- to be completely free and independent from the -- from the Hollywood system.

♪♪ Girl: Pick another number.

Boy: Six.

Linklater: We felt that with the animation, it sort of made it more engaging.

Girl: Dream is destiny.

Pallotta: You could actually talk about more ideas because visually, you're seeing something that you haven't really ever seen before.

It allows you to go further in terms of, like, experimenting.

♪♪ Linklater: You don't want to come back to this exact same spot, but you can't help it through life.

It's a spiral.

You know, you kind of come back to a new spot.

You're farther down the line, but you're in a similar position.

At the time I was doing 'Waking Life,' I was kind of back to a very similar spot.

Pallotta: It was a great experience because it felt so free, and -- and it really felt like we were sort of getting away with something in the same way that 'Slacker' did.

And once again, he was able to find and connect with an audience that was surprising to me.

Man #1: Ahoy there, matey!

You in for the long haul?

Do you need a little hitch in your get-along, a little lift on down the line?

Man #2: Oh, um, yeah, actually, I was waiting for a cab or something, but, uh, if you want to... Man #1: All right. Don't miss the boat.

Man #2: Hey, thanks.

Man #1: Not a problem.

Anchors aweigh!

Linklater: That was a good moment for me, was, like, to kind of feel like I was starting over in some strange way.

You know, if it's my last film, it'll be something I... I've never done a film as a means to an end.

I don't think it ever works that way.

Man #1: So, where do you want out?

Linklater: Tell you what.

Go up three more streets, take a right, go two more blocks, drop this guy off on the next corner.

Man #2: Where's that?

Man #1: I don't know, either. But it's somewhere.

And it's gonna determine the course of the rest of your life.

♪♪ All ashore that's going ashore. [ Laughs ] Linklater: But in my own little way, I was like, 'Okay, I'm kind of kicked out of a place I wasn't a part of to begin with.

So it's kind of hard to be kicked out.

But I realized, 'Okay, well, I just have to do what I can do.'

But I was always motivated by the ones who found a way.

Mom: We're moving to Houston.

Mason: When?

Mom: Well, soon.

We should be out by the 1st so we don't have to pay two rents next month.

[ Birds chirping ] Linklater: You know, I had ideas at age 5, 7, 12, and, like, 'Well, how's that a movie?

You know, you recast.'

It was really just the practical consideration.

There's no cinematic form for what I'm trying to -- to express here.

So I thought, 'Okay, well, I'm gonna return to my teenage and early 20s ambition of, you know, writing a novel.

I touched the keys, and a little lightning bolt went off.

And it was like, 'Well, wait a second -- Why couldn't you -- If I filmed a little bit every year, that would solve my problem of the kid' -- It just -- all in just a few minutes, the whole idea for 'Boyhood' formed.

Just phwoo!

Coltrane: No idea.

Yeah, it's a long time to shoot a movie.

Lorelei Linklater: I suppose everybody wants to know what everybody's doing 12 years from now.

Tricia Linklater: Rick and I have been on opposite sides of the business world.

Him very much in indie and $3 million things, and at the time, I'd be working on 'Spider-Man' that might have hit $300 million.

I'd always be home, like, 'Well, you either got to make box office or awards.

I know you're very much into indie, but people will quit giving you money if you're not getting one of these things.'

[ Indistinct chatter ] Sloss: In 2001, we were at Venice together with 'Waking Life' and 'Tape.'

And Rick pitched, I think, the idea to me first.

'What do you think of this? Is this anything?'

I said, 'It's gonna be one of the hardest things to get financed on Earth because who's gonna want to make an investment they have to wait 12 years to start to realize a return on?

But let's see what Jonathan Sehring says about it.'

Sehring: And Rick started pitching 'Boyhood.'

It was not called 'Boyhood.'

It was either 'Growing Up' or 'The 12-Year Project.'

It's a hard concept, but I got the drama of no drama.

Linklater: But it wasn't like an immediate 'Go,' but it was like, 'Huh. Yeah.

Let's -- Let's talk more about that.'

Where I'd talk to some other people, some other producers I had worked with, and they were like, 'Hmm, good idea.'

And then they'd just, within a week or two, just, 'Eh, we can't.

That's just too much.'

You know, 'It's just too weird.'

Coltrane: Well, next year, are -- are you gonna -- are you gonna, like, let it grow next year?

Linklater: Next year I'm thinking your hair will be kind of the way it is when you -- the way we were starting today.

Coltrane: Cool. And -- And will you keep it like that?

Linklater: So, see, the contrast is better the shorter it is.

Then it's long.

It'll seem like, 'Ooh, a lot of time has gone by.'

Sloss: When you see all of the films that he has that sort of defy traditional narratives yet seem to just work, this struck me as a gimmick.

But as a gimmick in the right hands could have been amazing.

Linklater: Action!

The end was so far that we didn't even talk about it.

It was almost a joke.

You know, you just started.


Interviewer: Do they get you in Hollywood, whether it's big Hollywood or little Hollywood or hybrid Hollywood?

Do you feel that you as a director and your work is presented the way that you would want it to be presented?

Linklater: Less than half the time, probably, but I don't know.

It's hard to have any kind of clear perception of how you're perceived.

I don't know.

I like to live in a delusional world where, you know, people are -- Interviewer: We all do.

Linklater: People are giving me a break or kind of understand what I'm about.

If I really get closer to the reality, it -- it just depresses me that, you know... I'd say there's two films of the 15 I've now made that I would consider industry films that they would have been made whether I was involved or not, and that's 'School of Rock' and 'Bad News Bears.'

Wyatt: You guys, you know what, you're nuts.

You're all nuts.

You've been focused so hard on making it, you forgot about one little thing.

It's called the music!

And I don't even care.

You know what, so what?

I don't want to hang out with a bunch of wannabe corporate sellouts.

I'm gonna form my own band, and we are gonna start a revolution, okay?

And you're gonna be a funny little footnote on my epic ass.

Black: We didn't have, uh, Richard in mind.

It was Scott Rudin who said, 'I really think you guys should -- should consider Richard Linklater.'

And at first, we were like, 'That doesn't make sense because this is, like, a feel-good hit-of-the-summer type of thing.'

And we both thought of Richard Linklater as more of an art-house type of guy.

You know, you think 'Slacker.'

You don't think, I don't know, whatever you think of when you think of big, commercial comedies.

♪♪ Linklater: 'Here's a script.

Jack Black's attached.

What do you think?'

I was like, you know, I'm like, 'Eh, I don't know how to do this.

It's not' -- I passed.

I get a call saying, 'Well, Scott Rudin, the producer, isn't accepting your pass.'

I'm like, 'What does that mean?!' 'He wants to talk.'

And I'm like, 'Okay.'

And he was just sure I was the right guy to pull this off.

I'm like, 'Oh, that's interesting.

You're not just going through the Rolodex.'

So it was a huge -- a different thing to me to come aboard.

I was a color on his palette.

Someone else had cast me as the right person to perhaps realize this thing that he thought had potential.

♪♪ I was always a little frustrated with a lot of studio comedies.

I just think they're -- they're not working hard enough, or they could be better.

So I was like, 'Okay, big mouth.

This is your chance to actually make a studio comedy that maybe works at that level.'

And I said, 'Can I bring my methodology?

Can I bring the way I make films to a new environment and make my film within that?'

And the answer was yes.

Wyatt: Yeah.


♪ Come on, come on, come on, come on now touch me, babe ♪ ♪ Ba-da-ba-da ♪ Can't you see that I am not afraid ♪ ♪ Sha-ka-ka-ka ♪ Lawrence is good at piano ♪ He shall be rocking in my show ♪ ♪ Ra-ka-ka-ka Stop! That's perfect.

Linklater: 'I didn't read anything today.

Feel fortunate enough to be writing.'

I just felt like writing something every day was good.

If you want to be a writer, write every day.

Even if it's nothing creative, just do that.

I think I was inspired -- You know, Tolstoy kept -- That was, like, an old notion where you kept journals, you know?

Black: I was told -- I can't remember by whom now, but early on, that if you want to be a writer, you write every single day. Linklater: Yeah.

Here's the day after Thanksgiving.

'A very visual day. Saw three movies today -- 'Fitzcarraldo,' 'Bonnie and Clyde,' and 'Taxi Driver.'' That's a pretty good day. Black: Not a bad day.

Linklater: [ Laughs ] [ Pen scribbling ] ♪♪ Whew.

It's painful, though, to go back and feel the angst and uncertainty of yourself at an earlier time.

Not that there was any -- You know, that's just how it was gonna be, but I don't know.

You're so glad that you're not in that head space anymore, where everything was just so... I can capture it, though. I like to kind of -- I still remember it.

[ Pen scribbling ] Man: Do you know where your character's going?

Like, do you know how it's gonna end?

Coltrane: Oh, not at all.

I mean, I know not -- No, not really.

I mean, if I knew more about Rick's life, then I might, but... 'Cause I know it's loosely based on his childhood.

But, no, I mean, I don't really -- It just kind of -- I just know year by year.

Mom: Bus'll be here in 10 minutes.

Put that homework in your backpack!

Go eat!

Adair: There was no 12-year script.

I never saw a 12-year script until the film was finished.

The film was incredibly organic.

It came together year by year by year.

Dad: Oh, look who's here!

[ Cheers and applause ] Adair: But he didn't always know what was gonna happen each year.

Clearly, he had the characters in mind.

He knew these islands that were gonna happen in the film overall.

But the specifics of what the dialogue was gonna be and what the specific scenes were gonna be each year, I think those evolved year by year.

Welbrock: You think that's funny, huh?

You think that's [bleep] funny?

Mom: [ Gasps ] Sloss: We'd show up once a year and make the request of IFC, and Rick would complain that it wasn't enough money and Jonathan would complain that he's gonna get fired and I would just sort of sit on my hands and watch it go through.

Sehring: So it -- Yes, my head was on the line, and there were not years where there weren't some uncomfortable conversations, and rightfully so.

You know, when you're talking to finance people, and they're like, 'When are we seeing our money back?

Are we ever seeing our money back?'

They're the right questions that they should be asking.

You can't say, like, 'We're in it for the art.'

We're a business.

It's the film business.

Linklater: All right, action.

Hawke: The idea that there would be fear that he wouldn't finish 'Boyhood' or fear that Hollywood's gonna deem him too independent or something or they're not gonna like him anymore is to fundamentally not understand Rick.

[ Indistinct chatter ] Linklater: All right, cut! Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.

Jones: The point of being an artist is that you want to create something new, living.

You want to surprise everybody else, and you want to surprise yourself, first of all.

So, you know, the reality of selling a movie, of course, is different.

He had a run of movies that the press just didn't relate to, and the audiences didn't, either.

Man #1: And a swell, fair-ball remake.

Man #2: ...doesn't really take enough chances.

Man #3: And it's almost like he's willing to be boring.

I didn't care enough about what the characters were after.

Man #4: Far too simple and too detached to be art and doesn't seem the most obvious fit for someone like Linklater.

Man #5: The direction is all over the place.

There's some really messy scenes.

What do you think? Man #6: I say skip it.

Jones: Particularly 'A Scanner Darkly' just weirded people out.

You know, the idea of a movie that goes that deep into the drug experience, I think, people just couldn't deal with.

Freck: On my skin. They're all over the place.

Jones: You know, and -- and a film that I think is extremely underrated and incredibly powerful.

♪♪ Black: I think if you look at most science-fiction films, for instance, they're really about the doom and tragedy awaiting us all.

Rick's films are, 'Tomorrow could be a better day than today.'

[ Indistinct conversations ] Barker: It's a difficult film to market because films about the theater or films about film always tend to be challenging to get a major audience.

And it was -- It was like the film that got away.

Welles: Sons of bitches, what the hell is it now?

Is every single person in this company against me?

Is this a goddamn conspiracy to wreck my show?

[ Drumroll ] This is completely inadequate.

Very possibly the worst-looking thing I've ever seen in my life.

Houseman: We just had 50,000 of them printed.

Welles: They're not entirely bad.

Can you play the ukulele? [ Drumroll stops ] Linklater: You have those dark nights.

It's never with the creative process.

It's with the industry.

You just feel out of sorts in your industry.

You just feel kind of forgotten or kind of not there.


[ Gunshot ] Woman: She wasn't friendly.

She -- She really wasn't.

And she probably -- There are people in town, honey, that would have shot her for $5.

You know?

Linklater: These are accents I grew up around.

These are -- I think I knew people like Bernie and Danny Buck and all the townspeople and the gossips.

These are my mom's friends.

These are, you know -- So I don't know.

You -- You're driven by story, but you also want to kind of impart something to the world.

Like, I kind of wanted to pull back the pine curtain.

Bernie: Room service! Hi.

Just dropping by again, Mrs. Nugent, to pay my respects.

Brought you some soaps and a little bubble bath to soothe you in the tub and some chocolate cupcakes for a late-night snack.

Nugent: Come in. Bernie: Oh!

It would be my pleasure.

McConaughey: People that first start to work with him -- I remember Shirley MacLaine on 'Bernie.'

He'd be talking, and she'd be, like, 'Right, but what do you want?'

And he'd be like, 'Well, I mean, you know, you know...' That's -- That's Rick doing -- doing Rick, going, 'You.

I want you.'

I'll jump onboard sooner than with any other director, trusting that we'll go create something that I'll have an experience in a movie with him directing that I want to be in.

Buck: After listening to all the evidence, I'm sure that you will agree that the defendant is a liar, a coward, and a back-shooter.

Black: A lot of directors and writers that are -- that are starting out a project are -- are actually just looking for good puppets.

They're looking for good cattle that will speak the words as they wrote them and won't give them any guff or any friction or any -- any talk-back.

And he's the opposite.

He's looking for people with ideas that are fresh.

Bernie: Marjorie, can you say something?

Oh, no, no, no, no!

Jesus, no, no, no!

What have I done?

[ Sobbing quietly ] Oh, God, what have I done?

Please tell me what to do!

I'll do whatever you want me to do!

Black: Where is your emotional truth with that, and how do you think he would do that?

Is that resonating with you in that way?

And then he's really asking you.

He actually wants to know the truth of this for you.

Do you know what I mean?

There's a subtle thing there that other [bleep] directors don't give a [bleep] about what you think.

They don't care.

But he really wants to know because he sees value in that.

Man: How long you been thinking about killing her, Bernie?

Bernie: I never thought of me killing Mrs. Nugent.

I -- [ Sighs ] I guess I fantasized about her death, but I was never the one responsible for it.

♪♪ Linklater: Whatever little success you do have, you have to kind of run with it.

You know, that's how the film industry's always worked, you know? You just -- It's so nice when that happens, but that's not my usual mode.

I go years and years not in that mode, of having no wind in the sails, just trying to get the next one made, kind of in spite of everything else.

[ Chuckles ] Okay, let's do it.

Ready, Mason? And action!

Man: Hey. That's our car, huh?

Mason: Get in there, yeah.

Linklater: Is it enough?

Is it all gonna add up to what I hope it is?

I was betting it all that it would just have this kind of cumulative effect.

But sometimes I wonder, 'Am I squandering this incredible opportunity to express something bigger with this canvas I'm creating?

And am I -- am I blowing it by just making it about such little, banal, nothing stuff?'

Dad: All right?

I'm sorry if you had other ideas about it, but when you get older, you can save up and buy a car of your own.

Be cool like I used to be.

Or you can get a minivan.

Sehring: I always questioned the commerciality of it because when you look at something over and over and over again and you become so familiar with it, you love it.

But you sit down, and if you show it to somebody else, you wonder if they're gonna be bored to tears or not.

It's sort of like a guest coming to look at home movies, but you have no idea when you introduce it to the rest of the world how -- what the reaction's gonna be.

Jesse: Is this really my life?

Celine: You're the same guy. Jesse: Eh.

Celine: I mean, we always think we're evolving, but maybe we can't change that much.

Jesse: You know how I think I've changed the most?

Celine: How?

Jesse: When I was younger, I just wanted time to speed up.

Celine: Why?

Jesse: Well, so I could be on my own.

So I could be free from my parents and school and all that [bleep] You know, I just wanted to close my eyes and wake up and be an adult.

And now I kind of feel like that happened, and I just want everything to slow down.

Celine: Hmm. It's strange. I've always had this... Linklater: We always joked it's the lowest-grossing film to ever spawn a sequel, but after doing a second one, it just invites that question.

So the pressure the third time was very different, that there was anticipation and there was -- Everybody was already asking about it.

Jesse: And a decade later, we ran into each other.

Celine: No, no, no. We didn't run into each other, sweetie.

Jesse: We didn't? Celine: No.

You wrote a book inspired by our meeting.

Jesse: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Celine: And I read about it and went to look for it.

Woman: That's very romantic.

Jesse: It was really romantic. Celine: Not really.

Not really. Not really.

It neglects to mention he was married, had a kid.

Jesse: Details! Details!

Celine: Yeah, that part was a disaster.

Jesse: It wasn't a disaster. It was inevitable.

Celine: Yeah, okay.

Linklater: This feels a lot like life, you know?

You're kind of -- Yeah, you're kind of in the middle section.

Is it as interesting?

Is it -- It's not what people make films about.

You do the beginnings of relationships and the end.

You don't -- No one does the in between.

And for a good reason.

'Cause there's less there usually that's interesting.

So it was by far the most challenging to dig into that age and to that place in a relationship and find it compelling or something worth examining.

Hawke: When she comes over here... And the only way to do it is to use the people and have the connection be real.

You have to, like, give a piece of yourself and put it in the movie.

And that's what Rick was asking us to do.

Celine: That 'I forgot to put in the back the science project' look?

I know you blame me. Jesse: I didn't say anything.

Celine: No. You didn't say anything.

You didn't have to.

Yeah, yeah. It's always my fault.

Jesse: Yeah, right.

Linklater: It was just so less, like, 'fun' in a way.

It mirrored the film itself.

While it was beautiful and fulfilling, it was still really difficult.

It was the hardest thing I've ever been a part of.

Jesse: This is how you now want to be spending this evening?

I mean, this is what you want to do tonight?

Celine: Well, you started it. Jesse: No.

You are the one who will not shut up about it.

But if you want to talk about it, I mean, really talk about it, I would prefer to have an un-emotional, rational conversation.

I mean, do you think we could do that?

Would that be possible? Celine: Here we go.

Un-emotional. Rational.

You always play the part of the one and only rational one.

And I'm the irrational, hysterical, hormone-crazy one because I have emotions.

yeah, you sit back and you speak from your big perspective, which means everything you say is level-headed and true.

Jesse: I don't always do anything.

Celine: The world is [bleep] by un-emotional, rational men deciding [bleep] Adair: There never would have been a film made as a sequel to 'Before Sunrise' in two years time or three years time because it's just not interesting.

What's interesting about the length of time between those films is that those people have grown.

They've had experiences. They've had lives.

And it -- it's what forms a person.

Hawke: I always think a lot of Rick's movies -- I don't think he likes it when I say this, but that they're kind of ideas everybody's had.

You know, like, if you think about 'Slacker,' when I first saw 'Slacker,' I thought, 'I had that idea!'

And I know everybody I saw the movie with -- like, 'I always wanted to make a movie where you just kind of follow one person to the next and...' 'Before Sunrise,' certainly. 'I want to make a movie where it's just, like, me and this girl hanging out.'

And 'Dazed and Confused' -- 'I want to make a movie about graduating high school,' or 'Waking Life' -- 'I want to make a movie about my dreams!'

You know what I mean?

It's kind of really obvious things that people want to talk about, but they're impossible to make a movie of.

And I think this falls into that, too, of, 'I want to make a movie about growing up, where, you know, you just follow these little moments of... But it would be impossible to make.'

But Rick's done it.

Mom: This is the worst day of my life.

Mason: What are you talking about?

Mom: I knew this day was coming.

I just -- I didn't know you were gonna be so [bleep] happy to be leaving.

Mason: I mean, it's not that I'm that happy.

What -- What do you -- What do you expect?

Mom: You know what I'm realizing?

My life is just gonna go.

Like that.

This series of milestones.

Getting married, having kids, getting divorced, the time that we thought you were dyslexic, when I taught you how to ride a bike, getting divorced again, getting my Master's degree, finally getting the job I wanted, sending Samantha off to college, sending you off to college.

You know what's next?

Huh? It's my [bleep] funeral!

Arquette: I think a lot of who we are as people is made up of the moments that aren't the obvious moments.

These other little moments that happen that are just your own.

Mom: I just... thought there would be more.

[ Sighs ] Sloss: I don't think even Rick knew what this was going to be until he wrapped the last year.

Linklater: Hover down on top of the car.

♪♪ Man: We're ready to go when you are.

Linklater: All right. Hey, Ellar, you good?

Man: Let's load. Anybody that's following, let's load up.

♪♪ Anybody that's following, let's load up.

♪♪ Linklater: Hey, everybody, that's a picture finish on Ellar!

[ Cheers and applause ] Coltrane: I feel kind of relieved and triumphant.

♪♪ And...uncertain about my life without this project in it.

♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] Sloss: And then he called me and he said, 'I think we've got something really special here.'

He sent up a rough cut, and we all -- the lights came up, and we all looked at each other like, 'Holy...' [ Clicks tongue ] And we were off.

Off to the races.

♪♪ [ Indistinct chatter ] [ Camera shutter clicks ] [ Applause ] Affleck: All right!

And the Academy Award for achievement in directing goes to... Alejandro G. Iñárritu. 'Birdman.'

♪♪ Arquette: And it's stupid to get, like, upset about an award.

And Rick certainly doesn't really care about it.

But for me, the beautifulness of that experience and the bravery of it and the opportunity as an artist to tell a story about human beings is so rare.

And why I think that award equates to something... that I really wanted for him.

Iñárritu: Thank you.

Rose: Whatever it is that makes you want to be in Austin rather than in Los Angeles is what makes you make the films that you do.

Linklater: You know, they've called our industry as kind of a great dream industry, but if you get too close to the industry, like, there's parts of LA, and just anywhere near the studio system, where it kind of thwarts dreaming and it's very risk-averse.

I mean, it's -- it's more about the business.

So I prefer to kind of spend most of my time just still kind of dreaming about stories.

So, hey, Blake, I want to run the scene.

There's always a few really huge challenges that just make it not easy.

Yeah, so that's a very long monologue.

We need to shorten that to a couple of lines.

Man: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Linklater: I don't mind that, you know.

You got to -- I would -- I wouldn't know what to do if I was heading into a movie at this stage thinking, 'Okay, I got this.'

There's always something.

You're pushing yourself to get somewhere you don't even know yet.

Let's just run it.

Let's run it in this variation.

Go. Yeah.

Man: I can operate with a... Linklater: Yeah.

One more. Let's just run it.

Let's -- Let's do it moving now.

See if we can walk and chew gum.

I guess I have enough experience to know we will get there.

You know, when you're younger, you go, 'Oh, maybe I won't get there.'

I still don't know any more than I would have a long time ago where we're going to, but I do have more confidence we will get there.

Man: I know what we're doing here.

You know, we're playing baseball.

Hawke: I don't think there's any reason to doubt that until his final breath, Rick will be working in the same way that he has and having immense love for all of it.

Man #1: All I want to do is give it all I got this year, be a part of a championship team, have as much fun as I can in my last year of college.

Man #2: What do you think you're gonna do after you graduate?

Man #1: My own thing. That's for sure.

♪♪ Linklater: Cut!

♪♪ Pierson: A lot of filmmakers think about what they believe their films can become, and nothing ever happens.

But in his case, it actually came true.

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♪♪ Man #1: He looks like a shaloom, man!

Linklater: I know. Man 1: Is it okay, that one?

Is that how they're supposed to look?

Linklater: Yeah, yeah. Man #1: Wow!

Linklater: Top-quality chicken.

Man #1: Wow!

[ Rooster crows ] Man #2: Oh, my God, beautiful.

Linklater: They think we have food.

They're kind of expecting something.

[ Rooster crows ] Man #1: Shoot. Sorry, you guys.

[ Young rooster crows ] Linklater: Once they realize we have nothing for them... [ Rooster crows ] [ Ducks quacking ] ♪♪ ♪♪