Alex Ferrari • June 14, 2021
Slacker, Indie Cinema & How to Become a Filmmaker with Richard Linklater & Katie Cokinos
Well I put out an episode back in 2019 putting my dream list of guests out into the universe and in the past four months I’ve been humbled to have some amazing filmmakers and screenwriters on the show. Incredibly one of those dream guests has made his way on the show today.
We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. As a bonus, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos, the filmmaker behind the film I Dream Too Much.
If this is your introduction to Linklater and his work, here are a few highlights you must know; Linklater helped launch the 90s indie film renaissance with his film Slacker.
The producer, director has juggled the TV, film, short-film, and documentary genres seamlessly over his career – typically focusing in fine detail on generational rites and mores with rare compassion and understanding while definitively capturing the 20-something culture of his era through a series of nuanced, illuminating ensemble pieces which introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood eco-system.
One of the talents to emerge from this era is the Texas native, Matthew McConaughey in Linklater’s third movie and VHS smash hit, Dazed and Confused. Based on Linklater’s years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there, the film shadows the adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May 1976.
Throughout his career Richard has chosen to tell stories about the human condition, while many times making us laugh and cry at the same time. I found an immense philosophical under current to most of his life’s work. From The Before Trilogy to Boyhood, his films tackle topics in an honest, raw and deeper way that is not normally seen in filmmaking.
Many of the actors who work with Richard call him the “Zen Director” on set. His philosophy can be felt throughout his work. He often tells long and transformative coming of age stories over years, if not decades, something that is unique to him.
His Oscar® nominated film Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.
Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It’s impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.
Now the other remarkable filmmaker in this conversation is Katie Cokinos. She has made over ten short films and in 2000 wrote, directed, and acted in the feature film, Portrait of a Girl as a Young Catwhich premiered at SXSW. Katie produced Eagle Pennell’s film, Heart Full of Soul (1990); was a publicist for Richard Linklater’s Slacker, (1990). She was the Managing Director of the Austin Film Society, 1990-95.
Her latest film is the coming of age story I Dream Too Much, co-produced by Richard.
Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes. These characters, who in some manner just don’t fit into the establishment norms, move seamlessly from one scene to the next, randomly coming and going into one another’s lives. Highlights include a UFO buff who adamantly insists that the U.S. has been on the moon since the 1950s, a woman who produces a glass slide purportedly of Madonna’s pap smear, and an old anarchist who sympathetically shares his philosophy of life with a robber.
So much was covered in this EPIC two hours conversation. I need to stop here and let you dive in.
Enjoy my conversation with Richard Linklater and Katie Cokinos.
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