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Interviews
Emily Christianson Written by Emily Christianson
Sep. 14, 2005
Interviews





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MAKING DAZED-Catch you later dude ? ten years later.

An Interview with Richard Linklatter

Written by Emily Christianson


A decade after making Dazed and Confused, about small town Texas teens on their last day of school in 1976, writer/director Richard Linklater invited the cast and crew to his home near Austin, Texas. The reunion led to Making Dazed, a documentary with commentary from the event, cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage from the movie. The one-hour special airs at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 on AMC.


The Oscar nominee recently reminisced with FilmRadar about making the 1993 movie that helped launch his career along with many others like Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Parker Posey. 


?If you?re lucky, you get one shot in life and I think Dazed ? was my shot,? he says.




The Huntsville, Texas native caught his first big break with Slacker in 1991. The experimental narrative about misfits and outcasts in Austin opened the door for Dazed, his first studio film. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, School of Rock, Bad News Bears and others came later. Look for his two new projects A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation in 2006.



How was the reunion?

It was more fun than anyone could have thought. It was like a high school reunion where you look forward to seeing everybody ? The [reunion was two days], one night they had the outdoor screening [in Austin], which was fun. Matthew McConaughey got up on stage and said ?alright, alright, alright? and everybody just went nuts.



What did you think of Making Dazed?

It?s kind of creepy because I?m in it so much. I?m a behind the camera kind of guy.



Why do you think Dazed and Confused has stood the test of time?

I think people relate to it because everybody goes through high school and everyone tries to fit in and be cool and has all sorts of different friends. It touches on a lot of common experiences people have.



How do you feel about fans quoting your movie more than ten years later?

It?s fun to think some crazy little line you had, actually a line you remember someone saying and you wrote it down and 20 years later - then that becomes something that others use ? It?s interesting the afterlife of any given film.



Which character do you relate to most?

The way the film is hinged you are supposed to relate to Pink and maybe Mitch a little bit and I was probably both of those guys in a certain way, but I was a lot of the other people to. I was definitely Mike, Tony, and Cynthia, the ones who wrote for the school paper. That was me and my friends.



Did you write the screenplay about your own experience?

You have one eye on your own personal story that you are drawing on and you have another eye, as a filmmaker. You are writing a comedy you hope is true to life and somewhat entertaining. It was very personal for me and had a lot of dark edges to it also. It wasn?t just a nostalgic look back; it was that the teen years are a pretty fucked up time in your life.



Most of the actors and actresses were unknown. Was that intentional?

At that very moment there weren?t a lot of known young actors believe it or not. Teenage films weren?t that big. I think the only hit movie that had been big was Encino Man. We even offered a part to Brendan Frasier, but he didn?t want to do another teen movie at that time. That probably would have thrown it off if we had a star. The studio sort of held that against us at the time. ?You have a movie with nobody in it.?



What did you do to capture the 1970s?

You have to be so meticulous, we were just fanatics. I set a tone of ?ok this song by Thin Lizzy came out in July of 1976, [our movie takes place on] May 28, so we can?t use it. See those heels, those came out the next year, we can?t use them.? You try to get people who were there to help. ?See that USA Today newspaper box in the background? You?ve got to get rid of it because there was no USA Today.? You have to be a total fanatic about the details, but you still get some things wrong. You get letters from someone saying ?those beer keg taps came out in 1979? ? You want it to seem like you fell down at that moment in history and this is where you were on that night.



Did you compile the soundtrack?

Yes, every song. I was a fanatic on the music. When I was writing the script, I went back and got all that music that I hadn?t heard in a long time by and large. Music has such an emotional, memory, recall quality to it. I would say the music is really the lead character in the movie. Music is like the most expressive element ? I remember waking up having ideas for music montages. Alice Cooper?s “No More Mister Nice Guy.”  I woke up thinking that?s going to work when he?s getting initiated, when he?s getting beaten.



How did the studio react to the soundtrack?

[The studio] gave away the soundtrack; they gave away a double platinum soundtrack because they didn?t think it would sell, like no one wants to listen to a bunch of 70s music. That is the kind of negativity they brought to everything they did. That tells you something doesn?t it?



I still remember [a woman] at the studio who thought that the soundtrack wouldn?t sell unless I put in current music. I was in the twilight zone. She wanted bands to rerecord it. I made a very authentic [soundtrack] why would I throw it away at the last minute? They were convinced that was what was needed to get MTV excited, and everyone else excited.



How did this experience compare to making Slacker?

It was probably the biggest leap I?ve ever made. Like doing a film where someone else paid for it. It was technically my third film, I had done one film completely alone, then I did one film with a crew of about six or seven and that?s a big leap there, to communicate with a crew and throw your ideas out there. This was a bigger leap even still, like how you make it within the system with a really tight schedule with all the previews and all that stuff. A lot of people fall apart at that level ? I think the studio was sick of me and didn?t like me by the end, but I was pretty happy to get out alive with the film that I wanted to make. If I had listened to them and done everything that they wanted, we wouldn?t be talking today, I?ll put it that way.



Do you plan to release a DVD with deleted scenes?

Criterion is going to do a really kick ass DVD of Dazed. It is something to look forward to in July. It is going to have commentary tracks, it?s going to have hours more of additional footage and interviews it is going to be so cool.



What would Dazed and Confused be like if you made it today? Would it resemble the teen movies out today?

I would like to think it wouldn?t be too different [than the original]. That is kind of the movie I had in my head. I?m a pretty hanging out kind of guy.



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