Director Richard Linklater attends the New York City premiere of "Boyhood" on July 7, 2014.
Director Richard Linklater attends the New York City premiere of "Boyhood" on July 7, 2014. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/MCT)

Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making indie epic "Boyhood" is being greeted with the kind of universal acclaim every filmmaker dreams of but rarely basks in. And it's hard to argue that it's not justly deserved.

We caught up with the highly likable filmmaker in Berkeley, a city he admires partly because of the mild weather and for the Amoeba record store that makes the devout music fan salivate. Music plays a key role, as usual, in his film.

Here are a few highlights from what he had to say, plus a bit of sage advice: "Pick your life's projects carefully."

On being fully committed to the project: "I couldn't have a dark night of the soul. I could never think: Is this what I wanted to do? Why am I doing this? It probably lingered in there somewhere, but I couldn't allow myself to go there. I'm steering this ship. All these people had jumped on my ship that headed off. You can't have a captain who's going, "what are we doing?"

On what he hoped to achieve: "I wanted to express something about the whole, not just a moment in childhood, but childhood itself, where you change suddenly ... somewhere in there is the emergence of self and opinions and skeptical thinking, and the relationships change, and you kind of gain agency in this world."


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On working with young actors: "Kind of the greatest experience of this was seeing them mature, seeing them come into their own and be artistic collaborators on the project."

On question in film about where childhood ends: "Childhood ends in a very persistent and slow way. You know you can pick your spot: Was it really when he (the character of Mason) realized there were no elves in the world? Is that where childhood ends? Or was it when the drunk dad throws a thing at you? I mean where does childhood end? I don't know."

On whether the film was improvised: "I knew the last shot. I knew it from year two. It's good to know where you're going. Film, to me, is all about structure. I was reading this Fellini quote the other day because he was always accused of improvising ... He says it's precision, there's nothing random going on here ... I feel the same way ... There was a plan that was executed here. It wasn't random, it never is. It's a pretty exacting art form. I mean documentaries are a whole other thing, but this wasn't that. This is telling a story. This is fiction, and this is all scripted, rehearsed, workshopped, acted, performed, edited."

On reaction to "Boyhood": "It's gratifying when you feel like something is being accepted in the spirit that it's put forth. It's kind of wonderful to feel that connection. But the movie is kind of about that. If you didn't feel that, then the movie -- on one level -- has failed in what it set out to do, which was to affect you in this way that you had to think about life, and your time and the fleeting nature of our lives and all that. So the film wants to take you to some place. If it works, that would be the appropriate response ... It's kind of like asking Spielberg ... well, how do you feel that people aren't going to the beach this summer after seeing 'Jaws.'? Well, the film is working. (Laughs) It's a powerful medium."

On whether the acclaim is going to affect him: "I'm too old now. (He is 53.) If it were my first or second film, I'd be worried about my mental health. They've come too late. I've done this too much."

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