Oscar-nominated writer/director Richard Linklater has already begun working on his next project, titled That's What I'm Talking About: a movie that Linklater describes as a spiritual sequel to both his 1993 film Dazed and Confused and what is now the Oscar-winning Boyhood. However, now that the filmmaker has gotten some distance from the latter project (which he spent twelve years making), it seems he's begun to give thought to making a proper sequel that would continue the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) on the big screen.
Linklater is one of the rare modern indie auteurs who's made sequels to his own original projects; specifically, with his Before movie trilogy, which follows the lives of the characters Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jessie (Ethan Hawke) over the course of three films, released in 1995, 2004, and 2013. Each of the Before installments picks up with its protagonists at different stages in their lives/relationship; that same approach would extend to a Boyhood sequel should it come to pass (as Linklater describes it).
Jeff Goldsmith's Q&A podcast (via Indiewire) recently featured Linklater as a guest, where the conversation focused in no small amount on his approach to making Boyhood. It was during the talk that Linklater admitted he's only somewhat recently begun to give some serious thought to literally continuing Mason's journey through life onscreen (rather than in spirit a la That's What I'm Talking About):
“To be honest... this film first met its audience exactly a year ago and for the first six months of the year, my answer to that was absolutely not. This was twelve years, it was first grade through 12th grade; it was about getting out of high school. I had no idea about another story, there’s nothing to say. It hadn’t crossed my mind. But I don’t know if it’s been a combination of finally feeling that this is over or being asked a similar question a bunch over the last year, that I thought, well, I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘the 20s are pretty formative, you know? That’s where you really become who you’re going to be. It’s one thing to grow up and go to college, but it’s another thing to… So, I will admit my mind has drifted towards [this sequel idea].”
Boyhood, of course, was filmed in a very specific fashion over the course of more than a decade, which is something that wouldn't have to hold true for the sequel. Similarly, although each of the Before films ended up being released nine years apart, it sounds as though Linklater would prefer for the story of Mason to carry on a little sooner than that:
“The twelve years [structure] came out of [school structure]. It wouldn’t have to be twelve years. It wouldn’t have to be… I mean, who knows. I mean, if I learned anything on the ‘Before’ trilogy it took five years to realize that Jesse and Celine were still alive and had anything to say. This one would probably be more accelerated, but who knows.”
The experiences of people in their 20s is something that Linklater has explored on film before; even Boyhood, to no small degree, explores how Mason's parents (played by Hawke and Patricia Arquette in an Oscar-winning role) evolve from 20-somethings - who had kids before they were ready - to becoming fully mature, accomplished adults while their children grow up. Indeed, seeing as That's What I'm Talking About is poised to cover similar thematic territory, that would make it all the more challenging for Linklater to avoid rehashing his past work with a Boyhood sequel about 20-something Mason.
Linklater acknowledged during the Q&A podcast that because he's examined coming of adult age issues in the past (and will continue to in the future), he's not sure just yet that a Boyhood sequel is something he will actually end up making. As he put it:
“I’ve dealt with this before… I have, in my movies, touched on people in their 20s,” he said. "So to what degree I’ll be going over certain territories again—I dunno, It’s impossible to say what may or may not come of it... I would love to keep working with this cast and I think we all would. But that can’t be the primary reason to do it. You always need something to say. You can’t do it just cause you want to work with your friends, you gotta have something really inside you you’re trying to communicate about those years. [It] might happen, but I dunno, it’s in the ether in the moment.”
The other problem that a Boyhood sequel would face is that, well... Mason wasn't really the big selling point of the first movie. Whereas fans of Before Sunset were seemingly more taken with the characters Jessie and Celine than how the movie is structured and filmed (hence, the continuation of their story in subsequent movies made sense), the way Boyhood was made has gotten far more attention than the Mason character within the film has - something the Screen Rant Underground Podcast crew touched upon this week, following Boyhood being passed over for the Best Picture Oscar.
That's not to say there aren't people interested in seeing Mason go through the highs and lows of his 20s; indeed, the experience of watching him become a proper adult could be all the more poignant, knowing everything that happened to him in Boyhood. So, for the time being, it's certainly something for Linklater fans to think about, while the filmmaker decides whether or not to pursue the idea further than he already has.
We'll bring you more information about a potential Boyhood sequel when we have it.