Director Richard Linklater’s epic film Boyhood, which will be released this spring, represents an interesting cinematic experiment: it was shot over the course of 12 years. “Linklater and the cast [including Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane] would take a few weeks each year to shoot the movie, essentially filming another chapter in the fictional family’s life,” says Steven Zeitchik, writing about the film, “so that you’re watching a child (and his parents) grow up before your eyes.”
Mason (Ellar Coltrane) in Richard Linklater’s
In a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session last year, Ethan Hawke, who plays the father in Boyhood, explains, “Richard Linklater and I have made a short film every year for the last 11 years, one more to go, that follows the development of a young boy from age 6 to 18. I play the father, and it’s Tolstoy-esque in scope. It’s a little bit like time-lapse photography of a human being. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
It’s a wonderful filmmaking concept, and it underscores an imperative for anyone involved in content creation (meaning you): You can never stop thinking of new ideas, trying new tools and techniques, and telling new stories. There are paid projects, there are assignments and there are full-time jobs, of course, but there are also independent projects that you can produce with your imagination and technical skills. It could be a time-lapse of a meteor shower or an epic, “Tolstoy-esque” filmmaking experiment.
One of my favorite directors is Rainer Werner Fassbinder. (If you subscribe to Hulu Plus, you can watch a ton of his films.) He directed 44 projects, including the 15-hour German television miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz, and he died when he was 37! Some of these films are disasters, some are interesting experiments and some are masterpieces, but more than anything I admire his creative impulse. He was determined! (Of course, he also had a lot of anguish and addiction.)
I don’t think anyone should hold him or herself to that standard, but there are only a finite number of people with both the creative and technical skills to make a film happen. (Including you.)