Capturing stories over time

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater is an American director based in Austin, Texas and his new film Boyhood is out later this year. Linklater shot his first film on Super 8 and went on to make Slacker, shot on a super low budget in his city of Austin, Texas. This and his second film Dazed and Confused brought him a cult following in the Indie film world.

Photograph: Graeme Robertson, The Guardian

In 1995 his film Before Sunrise won him a Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival. Since then he’s made many films including mainstream Hollywood productions. His films include:

  • It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988)
  • Slacker (1991)
  • Dazed and Confused (1993)
  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • subUrbia (1996)
  • The Newton Boys (1998)
  • Waking Life (2001)
  • Tape (2001)
  • School of Rock (2003)
  • Before Sunset (2004)
  • Bad News Bears (2005)
  • A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  • Fast Food Nation (2006)
  • Me and Orson Welles (2008)
  • Bernie (2011)
  • Up to Speed (2012)
  • Before Midnight (2013)
  • Boyhood (2014)


Linklater has made his name on films that happen over the course of one day but his latest film, Boyhood is a major exception to this rule.

Ellar Coltrane in “Boyhood”

The film is a coming-of-age drama that follows a young child in Texas, Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, from childhood to adulthood. Not so unusual – but in this case Linklater has used the same cast (including his daughter Lorelei as Samantha, Mason’s older sister) shooting them at intervals over the twelve years between 2002 and 2013. So we see the characters and the actors grow up in real time.

Here’s a trailer that gives you a glimpse of this time-lapse approach.

There is a great review by  in the The Guardian of Boyhood. He loves the film but this is what he has to say about the trailer:

Polite note to the marketing department at Universal studios: please take your Boyhood trailer and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Burn it on a bonfire or bury it underground. There is no worse movie trailer than the Boyhood movie trailer.

Why? Because Xan feels that this of all films deserves to be watched and enjoyed in its entirety, that the twelve years should be an experience, not something summarised in the few short minutes of this trailer. As he says:

… its magic works best when it is experienced at first hand; when the picture is allowed the space to move and breathe and reveal its treasures at leisure.

Capturing life in the 1960’s

What interests me most about this movie is the film maker’s interest in capturing as close to real life within a fictional story. The film has reminiscent traces of Michael Apted’s famous Seven Up documentary series. The series began in 1964 with Apted interviewing fourteen 7 year old British children from a range of social economic backgrounds. Apted has continued to film his cohort (minus some over the years) every 7 years since with the latest 56 Up screening in the UK in 2012.

Tony won everybody’s hearts and has stayed in the series through many ups and downs. I am looking forward to Boyhood arriving in Australia and revealing its time-lapse treasures. It opens in the UK in 2014.

Capturing life on the Surf Coast

I found myself interested in a story a few years ago and ended up making a documentary I’d Rather be Surfing that tracked the journey of a group of young surfers living on the Surf Coast in Victoria. They were all young students who at around Year 10 were disengaged and bored with school, but passionate about surfing. They enrolled in a new school  SEDA that focused learning around the massive surf industry in Torquay.

I filmed the students over three years as they grew up from 17 to 20, from kids to adults. It was great to track this journey and see how the world opened up for these kids as they explored the adult world of work. This documentary is another kind of time-lapse capturing growing up over a period of time. Here’s a short trailer.





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