Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny ★★★★


By Helene Ravlich

“This film is not just about Richard Linklater and his films but the spirit and need of independent filmmakers and films, emphatically saying to all: just do it! Go and make your film!”

Slacker. Indie filmmaker. Oscar nominee. Aspiring novelist. Director. Producer. Actor… it’s about time someone made a film delving into the supreme talent that is Richard Linklater, and that has been done most admirably in tonight’s documentary, RICHARD LINKLATER: DREAM IS DESTINY.

A feature documentary on the life and work of the indie filmmaker, it was produced and directed by a long time friend of the subject’s - Louis Black (founder of the SXSW Festivals and the Austin Chronicle) - and Karen Bernstein, an Emmy and Grammy Award winning documentary filmmaker. And as much as it uses Linklater as its point of focus, it’s also a fascinating insight into the fiercely independent style of filmmaking and scene that arose from Austin, Texas in the late 1980s and early 90's.

Linklater's efforts have gone on to really epitomize what is now known as the Austin filmmaking style, from SLACKER and DAZED AND CONFUSED through to BOYHOOD, and have long inspired a low budget, bang it out in your own backyard movement all around the world. In his early days, Linklater really was a one-man band, filming himself using a tripod and recording audio tracks on his Sony Walkman. Once he got serious, though, what made the still-supremely chilled director special is that he became a communal artist but one with a clear vision – and that vision was always all his own. This documentary demonstrates that ably, by showing us how he might have made SLACKER with an Austin cinematic collective, but every shot and idea was ultimately Linklater’s. It has been said many times that he was the artist, and the collective were part of a community who had become - without always quite knowing it - his crew.

I love how RICHARD LINKLATER: DREAM IS DESTINY celebrates the director’s continuing ambivalence toward big studios, even as he worked within them. His decision to remain living and working in Austin is radical in itself from a career-politics point of view. His decision has kept him away from where the action is, and given him the freedom of distance that not many young directors could afford. The film also features testimony to the uniqueness of his way of working from big names like Jack Black, Kevin Smith, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Patricia Arquette and Matthew McConaughey. The late Jonathan Demme also speaks, and it is fondly and with much respect.

RICHARD LINKLATER: DREAM IS DESTINY also details some of the creation of the beautiful BOYHOOD over the years, which I love. Linklater gives us a fascinatingly honest account of how, in shooting the movie over 12 years, he genuinely didn’t know what he had on his hands and in the can. He recounts that he knew he had a great gimmick and an outline, but actually wrote the script year by year, and at moments worried that there really was “not much there”. But like many a Linklater film there definitely was much there, and I cannot wait to see his creative endeavours still to come.

RICHARD LINKLATER: DREAM IS DESTINY premieres Thursday 24 August at 8.30pm on Rialto Channel

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