The most amazing aspect of Boyhood (and there are many amazing aspects) is simply the fact that it happened at all. Twelve years in the making, director Richard Linklater’s film follows Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) from ages 6 to 18, as he progresses through childhood and adolescence to the last day of high school. (Read our article about Boyhood’s production here.)
Linklater would assemble his actors and crew for three days each summer to shoot the next “chapter” in the story. “There was no real precedent for doing this with a cast and crew,” he admits. “There’s no such thing as a 12-year contract in this business. It was really asking people to take a communal leap of good faith and commitment.
“It became a bit like getting together every year at camp,” he continues. “We had this core group of people who united every year for 12 years and it really did become like a family in its own way.”
Linklater adds, “It was like taking a great leap of faith into the future. Most artistic endeavors strive to have a certain amount of control but there were elements of this that would be out of anyone’s control. There were going to be physical and emotional changes and that was embraced. I was ready for it to be a constant collaboration between the initial ideas I had for the piece and the reality of the changes happening to the actors along the way. In a way, the film became a collaboration with time itself, and time can be a pretty good collaborator, if not always a predictable one.”
The result captures so much humanity and honesty, across so many years, that I can’t really think of any equivalent endeavor (except maybe Michael Apted’s Up documentary series).
“It was incredible to have this kind of gestation time,” Linklater says. “It’s something that’s never happened to me before, and I know it’s something that’s unlikely to ever happen again.”
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