12 Life Lessons I Learned from the Director of the Best Motion Picture of 2015
In 2015, Boyhood won the best motion picture Academy Award, Golden Globes, BAFTA, AFI and several others.
What made this picture worthy of all these awards is that it was a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a young boy who literally grows up on screen. It was filmed over a 12-year period with the same cast. In my heading down a rabbit hole on the Internet, I recently watched a video interview of its director Richard Linklater with Jon Stewart and learned 12 life lessons in 6 minutes and 33 seconds.
A very short and very deep learning. This is what I learned:
- Sometimes we need a “bigger canvas” in our life. Small thinking doesn’t serve us and we need to step way back for a bigger view of what’s possible. Linklater wanted to tell a story about growing up and most of the stories about kids are just a moment in time. He wanted to show it all and knew “I needed a bigger canvas.”
- Find a cool way to tell your story. It makes for a much better story. Linklater thought it would be cool to show adults in his story actually growing older and show the kids growing up. Jon Stewart’s response: “It was a really cool (and incredible) way to tell the story.”
- Aging happens when you’re doing something big. The young boy was seven when he was cast. He was 19 by the end of the movie. The audience reaction when watching this movie was priceless as they gasped until they realized that that’s what happens when 12 years go by.
- You need family and friends and other things to do to support you through the long haul. The young girl in the movie is Lorelei who was nine at the beginning of the film. She is Linklater’s daughter. He also directed other films during this 12-year period.
- Cast yourself and ask for what you want. You can get more if you ask for more. When Linklater was talking about his daughter, who he cast in the movie, he said “I didn’t cast her. When she realized there was a part for her, she said, well, I’m playing that part.” She got it. So, ask for what you want.
- Take a leap of faith. This film could have gotten derailed at any point along the 12-year journey. Jon Stewart asked Linklater if there were any years where he felt “I’m not going to make it.” He responded “no.” It's that simple when you are pulled to make your dream real.
- All you need to know is your next step. Linklater stated that it was a luxury to shoot, edit and think for a year. All he did was plan it one year at a time. All you need to know is your next step, and then the next step, and so on and so on and so on.
- Think of it as a life project. That’s how he thought of the movie. It’ll be cool to see the kids grow up and have us, his audience, be witnesses to these lives. What would be different if you thought of your life as a project?
- Collaborate with the unknown. He didn’t know where the culture was going, and the movie unfolded organically. He had a no idea where it was heading or what the end looked like. This was an unknown for him, but this did not stop him. He ventured into the unknown. This seems to me to be exactly what life is like.
- You are creating a period piece in the present. It’s called your life. One of the things Linklater said was he had to think of what his creation was going to look like 11-12 years down the road. Everything ages and sometimes there is no end in sight for so long and then the end comes.
- Use your life well. Consider yourself the artist of your life and get working on your masterpiece. Jon Stewart commented that he processed his own life while watching the movie and that it felt like watching an artist take everything they learned over their life and have it all come together for the effect of this one beautiful master work. What's your masterpiece?
- Consciously move through your life. Linklater states, “I could not have done this 25 years ago.” Do you ever feel this way? I know we must consciously move through our lives and make wise choices so as others watch us they can process theirs.