Richard Linklater

Schneider: As someone who has lived in Austin for 25 years, I’ve known about Richard Linklater since the late ’80s when a friend of mine stopped by on the way to an audition for his movie Slacker. I didn’t go to it (one of the great regrets) and only saw the movie in the theater a year or so later, but I’ve been a fan ever since. He combines comedy with deep insight and infuses his pictures with scenes that seem so real it’s like he’s shooting a documentary. I recently sent him some questions about his masterpiece, Boyhood, which won the Golden Globe for best picture and best director.

Here’s a playlist of my favorite Linklater movies, in no particular order:

1. Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight
2. School Of Rock
3. Bernie
4. Dazed And Confused
5. Slacker

I played a 12-hour gig about six months ago, mainly because I wanted to do something no one I knew had done before. Was there any sort of motivation like that for you when you came up with the idea to shoot Boyhood?
Richard Linklater: On one hand, the idea for the movie, the 12-year canvas of it, was a solving of my narrative dilemma—just how to tell the story of what I was trying to express, namely, what it feels like to grow up. On the other hand, it wasn’t something I’d seen before, so that was exciting. Always looking for new forms. On some base level, it’s kind of important to have that motivation, right? It can get you in trouble in life (the Aggie’s famous last words being “hey, check this out, etc.”) but in the arts are probably the more healthy environment. Something evolutionary about it.

Are you always writing, or do you stop when you are shooting or editing a movie? Do you have a daily routine that you adhere to?
Always writing down ideas and bits, but then the actual screenwriting process, when it seems time to do it, becomes much more formal and methodical, like outlining everything, then filling in the dialog, working regular hours, etc. I’d go crazy if I didn’t know it was all in the service of a more exciting phase to come.

Would you like to see a superhero movie where they just sit around and talk about the experience of being alive and there’s no action at all? Because I would love to see that movie!
Sign me up! That’s definitely my kind of superhero movie. There are reluctant superheroes, but are there ever self-consciously aware, hyper-verbal, maybe lazy and/or bored, or experiencing a full-blown existential crisis or bi-polar episode superheroes? The world awaits this.

What was your favorite movie to work on?
They’re all fun certainly, but there’s usually something beyond your control that’s making it not quite as full-blown fun as it might be. Often that’s a too tight schedule or budget where you feel always a little under the gun or embattled. The film I just shot this fall, currently entitled That’s What I’m Talking About, was free of all of that: no assholes in sight and just enough time and money to not feel totally put through the ringer. It’s a college comedy set in 1980 and I had this wonderful young cast that was so fun to work with. Also, Waking Life was extra fun because it was so freeform.

What’s one of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?
Hmmm … The last job I had was in the late ’80s working the graveyard shift at a business hotel as the valet and bellman. I once picked up a guy at the airport who was asking me about my job, etc. He seemed pretty cool and was about my age, so I told him, because it was so late at night, I didn’t do much at all—just got paid to sit around mostly and do what I would be doing at home, like reading and writing. Then I asked him what he did, and it turned out he’s some gung-ho regional manager of the hotel chain, come in to make ours more efficient and profitable. I remember looking out the front windshield as I drove thinking I’d just unemployed myself. Sure enough, within about a week, my job was eliminated altogether. Ultimately I didn’t mind, because I qualified for unemployment and spent the summer doing the couch circuit in New York City.

Do you have any New Years Resolutions?
Nah, never do.

Did you get anything good for Christmas?
Already forgot all presents, but the extra time with my kids was great.