Friday night at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, Richard Linklater was awarded with the festival’s Founder’s Directing Award. It’s a fitting year for the director to receive the award given that his 12 years in the making “Boyhood” finally made its debut in January at Sundance (which we reviewed here). It’s an incredible accomplishment, especially given how many films he’s created over that same span, and the San Francisco Film Society (the organization that runs SFIFF) took the opportunity to recognize this fact while simultaneously presenting a screening of “Boyhood.”
During a hilarious on-stage interview by actress Parker Posey, the two reminisced about the production of Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” which Posey performed in. Speaking on the roots of his reliance on collaboration, Linklater revealed, “I remember holding the script and saying, ‘Hey, we do this script as written, the movie is gonna suck. Fire the writer.’ Even though I was the writer.” After circling the memories of their shared film, Posey prompted the director to open up about his decades-long career as a filmmaker.
In his early years, Linklater fancied himself more a writer than a filmmaker. But once hypnotized by the power of cinema, his aim shifted to conceiving ideas for movies instead of books. Before he even attempted creating a film he was considering the potential for new cinematic forms, a few of which did indeed become films. Considering the genesis of his career, Linklater said, “I think in my film life the two ideas that were the most out there hit me in 1983 or ’84… I remember driving late at night thinking, ‘Why couldn’t you just make a movie that went from one person to the next and the next?’ And I got to think about that for 5 or 6 years until I finally made that movie.”
So one of those two big ideas born in a young Linklater’s head was of course “Slacker” his 1991 feature drifting around Austin, Texas with a collection of memorable characters. The other he identified as “Boyhood,” wryly adding, “So that’s it. I’ve had two good cinematic thoughts all these years.”
On the topic of what he refers to as “The Accidental Trilogy”—the Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy starring “Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight”—Linklater left the door open for a future in the series. On one hand, the “Before” sequels were ignited by the production of “Waking Life” as well as “Boyhood.” Linklater explained, “I think what happened was they came in and did a few days on ‘Waking Life.’ Arguably the same characters… It kind of gave us some confidence. But actually, “Boyhood” enforced us committing.”
Given that the production of “Boyhood” is now complete, there may be less frequent opportunities for ideas to organically develop. However, Linklater’s own life experience has long been useful for foretelling where the story of Jesse and Celine might lead. Anticipating what must be one of his most frequently received questions, the director said, “If you were to ask if there was going to be another one I’d say, ‘Not right now.’ Life has to go on for a while.” And then after a falsely conclusive pause, “I’m not being totally honest… I’m older than them. On the first I was in my early 30s doing a film about people in their early 20s. They were that age. So I’m pulling out of them where they are at that moment and I’m looking back. And I knew that this last one, ‘Before Midnight,’ would have to be kind of domestic.”
It sounds like we definitely could get another glance at Jesse and Celine’s life, but we might have to wait until Linklater clocks in some life experiences worthy of their “accidental” series. With “Boyhood” wrapped, he might actually find the time to do so.