Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood is a coming-of-age story in the truest sense. The film follows the maturation of Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) over the course of 12 years – from kindergarten through high school. Linklater did not use a group of actors to mark the passage of time. Instead he chose to shoot the movie over 12 years, following the cast in real time.
It’s quite a feat when you consider all the obstacles one could encounter over such a period.
To start with the practical: financing. Linklater found financiers willing to fund the movie for a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year, but he fully expected the money to dry up at some point given the realities of the film business. Amazingly, it didn’t – Linklater’s blind luck.
The actors – particularly the child actors – were another consideration. Can you imagine the difficulty of trying to project both the talent and interest these six-year-old actors would have in the movie in their teens? Linklater again got lucky with his lead actor, Ellar Coltrane, who remained passionate about the project. Linklater wasn’t so lucky with his real-life daughter (Lorelei Linklater) who at one point asked for her character to be killed off. Linklater used the tried-and-true method of any desperate parent…bribing her with a gift.
Add in the difficulty of also coordinating schedules each year with two full-fledged Hollywood actors in Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, and you have quite the production process!
Somehow Linklater didn’t just pull it off, he made the film and the passage of time appear seamless and organic. If you haven’t already seen Boyhood you should definitely go check it out.