Below The Line Screening Series presented a special screening of Boyhood for members Saturday, Dec 6, at the Chaplin Theater on the Raleigh Studios backlot. The film, introduced by writer and director Richard Linklater, was followed by a Q&A with editor Sandra Adair, casting director Beth Sepko and production designer Rodney Becker.
Boyhood stars Ellar Coltrane as Mason, who over 12 years of filming, grows up before the audiences eyes. The film follows Mason from first grade to his first day of college, supported and shaped along the way by his father (Ethan Hawke), his mother (Patricia Arquette) and his sister (Lorelei Linklater).
“As a writer I would look at what we edited, hang out with it for a year, think about it and see where the film needed to go,” remarked Linklater as he introduced the film. High praise to a loyal crew was also given as Linklater stressed the 12-year production’s lack of setbacks. “It really gained a momentum as we did it. My nightmare was it would become this albatross obligation every year, but it really went the other way. Everyone looked forward to it.”
Adair, who while on the Boyhood journey also edited other Linklater films including School of Rock and Before Sunset, described the editing process as similar to such other collaborations, aside from the months between watching fresh dailies and preparing to shoot new ones. “I’ve worked with him over the course of 22 years, we’ve done 18 movies together, and in the course of Boyhood we did nine other films. We have a shorthand,” shared Adair. “He has a very specific style of shooting and way of working with actors, so I think having that familiarity and shorthand did impact the efficiency of Boyhood.”
Continuity was the biggest challenge presented to Becker and his production design team. As years came and went, the crew’s storage of props and set pieces grew right along with the film’s protagonist. Due to the film’s unusual editing timeline, production design elements continuously shifted from important to no longer needed, in terms of continuity. “We were kind of like pack-rats,” said Becker. “We didn’t know, until after we could see in the editing process, what made it and what didn’t.”
“We never had a script, so I never knew who I would need,” shared Sepko. Casting for a film’s script well before shooting is a standard piece to the pre-production puzzle. Boyhood, however, required a continuous growth of the characters surrounding Mason and his family. “Rick would usually give me a call and say, ‘Hey, I think we need a teacher, we need a neighborhood kid or there’s a new love interest coming up so let’s think about that.'” Sepko added that a benefit to casting other films for Linklater along the way was bringing such talent to Boyhood, if someone seemed a good fit for Mason’s world.
Regarding the 12-year commitment, all three guests expressed the team’s pride and loyalty to Linklater due to his leadership. According to Sepko, there was never a time an actor was asked to come back, even if years after their initial involvement, and the request wasn’t met with positivity and a continued collaboration.