The medium is the message

He broke new ground employing cutting edge digital technology in Waking Life and Tape. But RICHARD LINKLATER says it’s the stories that dictate the medium. Words: Kaleem Aftab

ichard Linklater was the original low/no budget filmmaker. llis stunning student

graduation film. Slacker. shot on a budget of

$3000 and detailing a day in American suburbia. found its way into cinemas worldwide and proved to a generation of young filmmakers. including luminaries such as Kevin Smith. that you do not need studio backing to make a hit film.

So it‘s no surprise to see that I.inklater. after a gap of over a decade in which he made four studio films '— l)u:_e(/ and Confused. surhl/rbiu. lie/ore Sunrise and the $27m western 'I‘lie Newton Boys -— has returned to his independent roots with two films shot cheaply using consumer digital cameras: the animated ll’uking Life and lope.

The recently released ll’ukiiig Life is the first film to use a rotoscoping technique drawing computer animation over live digital images « something developed by a friend of l.inklater. 'Iiipe is from the guerilla school of filmmaking. an ultra low budget feature based on a stage play. featuring three characters and shot in six days. Linklater says that the stories within his film made him shoot on digital cameras rather than any budgetary constraints.

‘livery story needs to be told the appropriate wayf he says in his slacker drawl all the way from Austin. Texas. ‘All my films are really close to me and as a visual person I’m always trying to come up with the right visual approach. The way an architect will approach a building is by looking at the function and then establishing its form. lnevitably the form is your sty'le.‘

36 THE LIST -1 "i 1/

Audiences don’t give a shit. I don’t remember hearing anyone say: “Let’s go and see that movie that was shot on DV”

Tape, from the guerrilla school of filmmaking

This is made clear in Linklater‘s use of animation for ll'uking Life. '1 don’t think it would have worked live action.’ he says. ‘The film takes place so much in the abstract. like in a dream. which takes it to a very analogous level. You think that the action is real and sounds real. Part of your brain is taking it as a reality with seemingly real gestures and voices so it could not be a clean animated image like in a Disney film.‘

The time consuming process of animating ll'uki'ng Life also gave Linklater an opportunity to make 'Iiipe. ‘The animation for ll’uking [.i'l'e took a year and l was involved in overseeing character design and approving things that took several hours a week. I could not have taken on a bigger film. but 'lii/n' came tip rather spontaneously when lithan llawke approached me with the idea. It was a small production and l was back in my office editing 'Iitpe while we were doing the animation for linking Life. The films just came to the finishing line at the same time.’

Linklater accepts that these films had to wait for the right technology to come along before he could make them. but frowns at the belief that digital films will revolutionise cinema. ‘I guess as a filmmaker who started off on Super 8 and lbmm I don‘t think it's a revolution. l’lus. audiences don’t give a shit. I don’t remember hearing anyone say: “Let‘s go and see that movie that was shot on l)V." Unless you're a film student or an aspiring filmmaker. it doesn‘t mean anything. Name one person that‘s going to see a Lars Von Trier film because it was shot on l)V. Who gives a fuck'.’ It all comes down to ideas. Do you have anything to say or an original way to say it'.”

As for his continued use of lithan llawke in his movies. Linklater laughs when he say: ‘Well. I guess he is my Kurt Raab.‘ a direct reference to one of l.iiiklzitei"s favourite directors. Rainer Werner l‘assbinder.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 12 Jul. See review, page 39.

Rough cuts

lights, camera, action . . .

With Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man now in release. the blockbuster season has given us its two biggest (and quite possibly worst and best. respectively) films for the summer. Oh. there's still Men in Black ll. Stuart Little 2. Spy Kids 2. Austin Powers 3. blah. blah. but we're now approaching the quality cinema season. Come August. the Edinburgh International Film Festival will screen the best of new world cinema land possibiy even a decent blockbuster or two). after which time the arthouse venues in Scotland will fill up with just too many good films not to be missed.

Just say no to blockbusters

Before then. however. those not interested in small, irritating mice and sharply~dresse<t men With big, phallic guns might want to check out some of the themed seasons Edinburgh and Glasgow's arthouse venues are slipping in before the Film festival takes over. i‘he Glasgow film iheatre is running some of the highlights of antiestablishment filmmaker Alan Clarke's career: Scum (i7 .Julyl. Road and Christine Oil—25 .Julyi and Made in Britain ((31 .July- 1 Augusti. The GFT also continues its linagineASIA season With more coriteinporary and classic

sian Cinema: Adm/a till-‘16 July), Panther Pancho/i {19 21 July) and [he Wrestlers (2.9.30 John. And the Greek i‘lllii Season carries on With: Love t/Vaiio'ers Ill the Night if July). A Oiiiet [Death (111 July) and Violent John (21 July). Finally. the Lesbian and Gay Film festival continues its tour stop at the GFT and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse With: Chicken (8 July), lleii fit; if .July; and Venus Bow (:21). 23 Julyi.