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The Top 10 Things We Learned About 'Boyhood' (and Life) From Richard Linklater

The director describes his new film as "meant to be."

IFC Films | Getty Images

Around 2002, the writer/director of Dazed and Confused and the Before trilogy embarked on his most ambitious project yet. Richard Linklater's plan was to make a feature film that would follow the lives of a boy and his family for 12 years. He would film for a short period of time each year and, in the end, build a cohesive film from the footage. 

Flash forward to 2014: Boyhood takes the Sundance Film Festival by storm, becoming the talk of Park City and turning critics into misty-eyed fanboys. The response to Boyhood cannot be understated. No film has gripped the film community quite like it in some time. It's the best-reviewed film of the year and the best reviewed non-documentary/non-re-release since Pan's Labyrinth in 2006. 

So what does the creator himself have to say about the film? We were lucky enough to speak with Linklater in San Francisco recently about Boyhood. The director was more than willing to discuss the production, his epic star: Ellar Coltrane (who ages from 7 to 19 in the film), and all of those big ideas the film conjures. 

These are the top 10 things we learned from Linklater about his seminal masterpiece. 

1. "I wanted to express something about growing up... I was searching for a bigger canvas to express how things change, how you see life a little differently at (age) seven than you do at thirteen, seventeen. There's this emergence of self."

Ellar Coltrane in <em>Boyhood</em>. (IFC Films)
Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood. (IFC Films)

2. "Most movies with kids are pretty specific. You've got to pick your spot because you've got this limitation with the age of your actor. So I was trying to get outside those boundaries and I'd kind of given up when this idea hit me."

3. "Everything sort of presented itself to me. I was watching the movie and it was one movie, nothing changed, but the characters all just aged."

4. "I wanted the audience to feel like, in a mere two hours and something you've seen twelve years go by in a realistic way. That's kind of how our own lives can feel. If you jump back 12 years in your own life, or in my life, I can go 'That kind of went fast.' So it's a reminder of that, to slow things down and be in the moment, in the present."

(L-R) Patricia Arquette and Richard Linklater at the premiere of <em>Boyhood</em> on June 21, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. (Getty Images)
(L-R) Patricia Arquette and Richard Linklater at the premiere of Boyhood on June 21, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. (Getty Images)

5. "At the Astros game, I've got one inning to shoot and I need them to do something offensively... I've got the camera pointed towards the left field fence and I'm just hoping the guy will hit a grounder to third or short... And dammit if Jason Lane doesn't hit a home run right down the middle of the lens and you can see the ball the whole way. It doesn't even exit the shot... I might've stayed there all season and not gotten that shot... Everything was just sort of magically working in our favor. It felt meant to be..."

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in <em>Boyhood</em>. (IFC Films)
Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood. (IFC Films)

6. "I think it's proof time does exist and characters exist and that we are all flowing through time, and kind of at different rates..."

7. "I guess David Blackwell, who sells liquor to an underage kid in Dazed and Confused (and again in Boyhood)... I thought it was kind of funny that he's still working at a liquor store. He hasn't been fired yet. I guess it's Texas—you can get away with it. It's a fun little Easter egg for people who notice."

8. "We're all here in the present so it doesn't really matter what you think about the past. We should be thinking right now and into the future. You want to learn from the past, but I don't see anyone doing that."

9. "Once we got it and we had lost the light and we were done, it was still kind of magical outside and I remember Ellar got up and we just kind of looked at each other like, 'What have we just done? Where did 12 years go?' We started and he was this little kid. Now he's this young man I'm staring at eye level. We just hugged for a long time. It was intense."

10. "Everything about this film was different and the way we feel about it here at the end is kind of wonderful and unexpected."

Click the player below for our complete interview with Richard Linklater about Boyhood.

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