The Academy Awards are tomorrow night and Richard Linklater has a very good shot at winning Best Director, or even Best Picture, for “Boyhood,” an almost 3-hour indie that seemed like an unlikely Oscar candidate when it debuted at Sundance in January 2014.
Linklater’s obviously done an entire season of press, but he showed up recently on Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A Podcast. It’s an insightful conversation worth listening to, one that perhaps inspires further admiration for Linklater because of his commitment, his wise choices, and the craft behind the film. While some “brutally honest” Oscar voters have said the movie feels cobbled together and not written, the truth is none of the film is improvised. All of it is purposely structured to feel like it’s naturalistic and easy-going, but behind the scenes is a carefully put-together screenplay that had the benefit of being tweaked each year before he shot.
What’s doubly impressive, as we discovered when we talked to him last year, is Linklater’s quiet confidence. He favors the subtle over the overt, listening to what the film actually needed each year, decisively omitting coming-of-age beats like first kiss, first time having sex, etc. because he knew they were clichés. What was more powerful to him were personal, seemingly insignificant moments that he felt would resonate with the audience, and obviously he’s right.
At the end of the podcast, the director is asked if he’d ever consider a sequel to the movie and, for the first time, he seemed open to the idea and admitted, much like during the early gestation of “Boyhood,” the ideas were now percolating to the surface.
“To be honest… this film first met its audience exactly a year ago and for the first six months of the year, my answer to that was absolutely not. This was twelve years, it was first grade through 12th grade; it was about getting out of high school. I had no idea about another story, there’s nothing to say. It hadn’t crossed my mind,” he said firmly.
“But I don’t know if it’s been a combination of finally feeling that this is over or being asked a similar question a bunch over the last year, that I thought, well, I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘the 20s are pretty formative, you know?’” he admitted. “That’s where you really become who you’re going to be. It’s one thing to grow up and go to college, but it’s another thing to… So, I will admit my mind has drifted towards [this sequel idea].”
Linklater suggested it could also have a very different structure, but wasn’t sure what that would be, almost talking aloud. “The twelve years [structure] came out of [school structure]. It wouldn’t have to be twelve years. It wouldn’t have to be… I mean, who knows. I mean, if I learned anything on the ‘Before’ trilogy it took five years to realize that Jesse and Celine were still alive and had anything to say. This one would probably be more accelerated, but who knows.”
Linklater said the idea for “Boyhood” came to him several years before he started; it dreamt its way to the top of his mind in a similar way.
“I can tell it’s happening [in the same way] because I start coming up with ideas about [that time period]. The same way I thought about ‘Boyhood’: just these random little memories about being in my twenties that might seem insignificant on paper, but telling and important. And developmentally, like, ‘oh, that was kind of a moment’; a lot of moments from the fraught 20s.”
“I’ve dealt with this before… I have, in my movies, touched on people in their 20s,” he said. "So to what degree I’ll be going over certain territories again—I dunno, It’s impossible to say what may or may not come of it… I would love to keep working with this cast and I think we all would. But that can’t be the primary reason to do it. You always need something to say. You can’t do it just cause you want to work with your friends, you gotta have something really inside you you’re trying to communicate about those years. I might happen, but I dunno, it’s in the ether in the moment.”
Much like he’s reiterated in the past, Linklater said his upcoming movie, “That’s What I’m Talking About,” will be a “wild party comedy,” and described it as a kind of perfect antidote to “Boyhood.” He also stressed that the movie will come out sometime in 2015, so that’s rather exciting too. Maybe we’ll get to see it in the fall? Though it does sound like a summer movie. “It’s a sequel to both ‘Dazed & Confused’ and ‘Boyhood’ if that’s possible,” he said. “It’s set in 1980 and it’s a guy showing up at college, ‘here’s my new roommates…’ I’m excited about it, I had so much fun. The soundtrack is going to be [fun]. It’s a party film. It’s a perfect segue from ‘Boyhood’ I think cause it’s both personal, but it’s about a bunch of crazy, young guys.”
While Annapurna Picture is producing and funding the movie, Linklater said that it’s probably Paramount Pictures who will distribute the film, which makes sense given that Paramount helped assist the “Boyhood” Oscar campaign and ended up releasing the film on DVD.
2/28 Update: The L.A. Times says ‘"That’s What I’m Talking About" is due from Paramount in the fourth quarter and will likely end up in at least some of the fall festivals. Linklater says the summer in this interview, but he’s also said the fall in the past too.