Slacker Twenty Years Later

On Film / Short Takes — Jan 20, 2011

It’s been two decades since Richard Linklater’s Slacker shook up American independent film and helped define a generation. This week, on the eve of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, journalist Mark Savlov sat down with Linklater and writer John Pierson (Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes) for an in-depth conversation for the Austin Chronicle about the groundbreaking movie and its tough-to-pin-down legacy. The discussion brings into sharp focus the changes that have come about, in both Austin and the indie film world, since 1991: The city then so evocatively dramatized as a regional haven for aimless bohemians with a lot to say is now a national artistic hub, home to the ever expanding South by Southwest Festival. And the effort and money it once took to make a film have been mitigated by the emergence of digital video.

One of the most intriguing points Linklater makes in the piece concerns the experimental aspects of his film’s narrative: “Slacker was that kind of film from the generation that was probably the first to have the TV remote. We were the first generation to begin creating our own narratives by watching five minutes of this and then one minute of that and then seven minutes of this. We were also the generation that, as a kid, got dropped off at the multitheater, where there’s eight movies and you’d watch little bits of all these different films. That was in my head as a narrative possibility. I saw Slacker as you’re either channel surfing or you’re going in and out of different movies. And that was a really primitive version of what now would be exponentially more complex.”