Saturday, June 19, 2010


From the Vault: Richard Linklater

Few things can stir as much excitement as finding a promising young artist and watching him grow. Austin, Texas-based writer-director Richard Linklater, 33, currently promoting his third theatrical release, has shown much willingness to grow. His latest movie, Before Sunrise, demonstrates he is never content to play it safe.

Before Sunrise stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The film shows a brief romance between a young American man and a young French woman who meet on an Austrian train and decide to spend several hours walking the streets of Vienna together.

The pared-down cast is quite a switch for Linklater, whose two previous efforts were two different types of ensembles: a collage of characters in Slacker and many students populating Dazed and Confused.
"The making of (Before Sunrise) was very intimate. I worked very closely, very intensely with two people, but I was up for that. I was looking forward to that. I felt I needed to do that next."

Linklater was speaking by telephone from Austin last week where Before Sunrise premiered one day prior to kicking off the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Before Sunrise was made in 25 days for $3 million, a low budget for most film releases but a staggering increase considering Slacker cost a mere $23,000. Sunrise cost about half what Dazed and Confused cost to make.
"It's really not the budget, but how much each film needs to be made the right way. I felt I got everything I wanted."

Part of what he wanted became the city of Vienna itself, where the movie was made, though Linklater returned to his home base of Austin for post-production work.
"The Austrian government was very accommodating. They were open to us filming there, unlike a lot of cities. I liked the city. I wouldn't have used it otherwise. I just thought it was an interesting, kind of classical backdrop. It could have been other cities, but once it was Vienna I really wanted to make ... a movie that couldn't have been anywhere else."

The romance in Before Sunrise achieves a kind of universal appeal, even if the exact details of the film haven't happened to each individual viewer.
"I think everyone's had an experience like this, in some way or another."

In some respects, Linklater has been surprised by how well received his somewhat idiosyncratic movies have been.
"When I first set out to make films, I didn't know if they would be funny or if people would relate to them. You never really know. I guess it was surprising to see my sensibilities hooked up with more people than I thought they would have. We all imagine ourselves way off in the corner, doing something really weird, but I have to admit that there's something kind of common about me. I kind of tap into a common experience."

Unlike many talented filmmakers of Linklater's generation or the two generations that preceded them, Linklater wasn't weaned on movies in childhood. His interest came rather late.
"It wasn't until later that I got interested in films. I guess the most fascinating film of my childhood was ... watching 2001. I think I was in first grade. I thought, 'My God.' It really intrigued me, and it still does. It's really amazing, the power of the medium to appeal to a 7-year-old or an older person, same film. I think films communicate on a deeper level that way. It was in college I really started watching films more seriously, or thinking of them as an art form. I was just coming in contact with great films, not just the entertainments that opened that week, but the classics."

Ideally, Linklater would like to make a film a year, though he admits that can be tough to do. Once the promotion cycle for Before Sunrise winds down, he hopes to get back to work on his next script, a more epic-type film involving Texas history set in the 1920s.
"It'll be yet another big change, but I think it will still be very character driven."

He hopes to film in summer or fall of this year with a possible 1996 release. For the foreseeable future, Linklater plans to stick to scripts that he's been involved in writing. Filming someone else's screenplay is "quite a ways down the road, I think. I have a lot of stories of my own I really want to do. Whatever feels right next, you know, that sort of thing."

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