Boyhood: Linklater’s Masterpiece, Inspired by Cast and Crew

boyhood_posterBoyhood, by writer-director Richard Linklater, is one of his masterpieces, a film that’s been critically embraced and a frontrunner in the Best Picture Oscar race.

“Everything about this film was unusual,” Linklater says, “The rigors of the 12-year approach presented challenges in every department, including logistical.”

Though low-budgeted, Over 400 people ended up working on the film.  Says Linklater: “It was tricky scheduling actors and some crew people with my schedule.”

For example, it required two cinematographers, who sometimes alternated from year to year,and sometimes worked together.



Cinematography: Lee Daniel, Shane F. Kelly

“We maintained pretty good continuity. They’re two directors of photography I have worked with over the years, so it was all in the family. We were going for real life, which still requires a lot of effort. For an acting performance to work, it has to be tight to feel loose, you know? We wanted everything to feel it was out of real life. It’s not a documentary, we’re creating everything. It’s all about location, tone. (Before start of production, Linklater did not have a lot discussion with the cinematographers.) I just start talking about it and it becomes what it’s supposed to be.”

Production design: Rodney Becker

“Rodney is a great guy people like to work with. I was so moved by these people’s commitment to the project. Each year, they got more invested in it, but it was a very nomadic film. The family started in a house, moved to an apartment and settled in for the last four years. That house belonged to a friend of ours, who was also the location manager. For all department heads, I had an ongoing cut of the movie that people could reference. It was important, for example, for the art department to see ‘That’s where everything was.’ ”

“We edited every year’s footage. It was an intense 3-day shoot each year, for maybe 15, 20 minutes of footage. We would edit that; there would be an assembly, we’d have a cut and then attach it to everything that had gone before. For me, it was great for reference. I’d go off to make another movie, and hadn’t seen it in five months. The film was always with me, but each year it would advance from back burner to front burner. So I’d sit down at 2 in the morning and watch our latest cut. And maybe we’d reedit and tighten the whole thing. It’s unlike any other movie: When you’re in post, production’s over. But we could say ‘What’s working, what isn’t?’ Sandra ended up being on the front end of production. It’s rare that you can film, edit, and then continue writing.

We had an 11-year cut last October, when we shot final images and then we showed a rough cut just a few months later at Sundance. The long version was only a couple more minutes than the final cut. We never cut significant time out of the movie. In fact, I put footage back in the movie, for years 11 and 12. I’d say to Sandra, ‘Remember that scene of walking the bike? I’m kind of missing that.’ I was able to put in some scenes to round it out. Why not add that 15 seconds? This movie wanted to be what it is. It wanted to be its own length. It’s not a minute shorter than it wants to be.”

Costume design: Kari Perkins
“I first worked with her 22 years ago on ‘Dazed and Confused.’ She’s very creative and very realistic. We were making a period piece but shooting in the present tense. Even with a period film, she hits the notes — what it must have really felt like each year, so it’s not like a ‘costume.’ She was very attuned. I would say ‘What would an 8-year-old be wearing today?’ Little things that I think only kids of that age would notice. You had to think of long-term final effect: What will be dated in the way you want? that’s what made it so fun, realizing that what we were doing would not be seen for maybe 10 years. Her work was very subtle. We thought about everything.”

Sound mixing, Tom Hammond

“Technically, over the years, there would be formats changing. Technology is moving so fast, you’d have to update. There were also practical considerations, like ‘We’re going to have to loop the kids before their voices change.’ ”

Casting Director, Beth Sepko

“The big search was in Year One for the boy. I had my daughter, of course (Lorelei Linklater, who plays the family’s daughter Samantha). Beth headed search for Mason Jr. Every year, we had more parts; it was like making 12 films.”