Writer/Producer/Director, Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, The Before Trilogy) started out his career with a revolutionary movie titled Slacker (1991). It's about... well... everything and nothing at the same time.
The general plot revolves around a day in the life of the people in Austin, TX in 1990 ("present day" for the time the movie was released). The title is an ironic suggestion of the people we see in this town. As the movie progresses, each dialogue exchange is as complex as the next. One of the most resonating lines, "withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy," pretty much encapsulates every character’s perspective.
The dramedy unfolds with the camera moving from one person to the next as a constant stream of scenes which branch to a succeeding one. Never staying with one character for more than a couple minutes, there are enough stories and moments to constitute multiple movies in their own right.
In the opening scene, Linklater himself plays a guy who rides in the back of a taxi explaining a metaphysical dream he had moments ago on a bus about the possibility of parallel lives diverging off of roads not taken... Naturally, I wanted to know more about this little movie...
Linklater was in his late twenties when he made Slacker. With a budget of $23,000, he made this movie in his hometown. After its release, it received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991. Apparently, the production was very relaxed. In various interviews, Linklater drips a nonchalant description of how he went, and currently goes, about shooting scenes. At times he simply asked whoever it may be, a non-actor or professional actor, to be in scenes that were scheduled to film the following day. Not for lack of caring, he simply knew he could get his points across regardless of the talent in front of the camera. That's a respectable quality in my book. That’s the kind of feature film production that sounds fun.
Film sets are widely known for their toxic environments as they undergo unbelievably stressful situations. Director Richard Linklater seems to have found his own fun, yet, focused solution by bringing his authentic relaxed vibes to what he does. In doing so, he brings out incredible performances and moments. That's something worthy of admiration: doing what you love and having fun doing it.
This movie is a reminder of what we can do despite limitations and how we can go about tackling obstacles in a productive and enjoyable manner. With a small feature film budget, Linklater put together the resources he had and created something timeless and celebrated. A slacker? Debatable.
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