The movie Slacker was not my bag.
Like most people who moved to Austin, I eagerly rented the 1991 Richard Linklater film hoping that I would become acquainted with my new home through the quirky storyline and true to life characters depicted in the movie.
Instead, I was terrified.
Slacker made Austin look like a glib, overcast landscape filled with conspiracy theorists, pap smear collectors and parent killers. Not only did I have difficulty getting through the movie, I ended up rocking myself to sleep that night.
But mostly I thought the movie was slow. I understood from film school that Slacker was one of the "forefathers of indie filmmaking" and helped "inspire the mumblecore genre" and blah blah blah, but I just wasn't feeling the love. I was used to structure and storyline and neither existed within the world of Slacker.
The filmmakers were allowed to get creative with their scenes. Many used the same locations, dialogue, and even some of the same actors as the original.
So when my boyfriend, Geoff Marslett, told me he was one of the directors selected to remake Slacker 2011, my intrigue was piqued. Watching how excited he was at the opportunity to pay homage to a film so influential to his own work made me think this was just the reintroduction to the film that I needed.
Slacker 2011 is kind of an awesome idea. Actually, I don't think anything like it has ever been done before.
24 local filmmakers were recruited to each remake a scene from the original movie.
Linklater being the cool guy that he is, not only gave his blessing, but he's going to be at the premiere on August 31st at the Paramount.
The filmmakers were allowed to get creative with their scenes. Many used the same locations, dialogue, and even some of the same actors as the original. Others reimagined what Slacker would be like in 2011 filled with new technology and updated pop culture references within the evolving Austin backdrop.
In typical Slacker fashion, Geoff recruited his friends and family to work behind and in front of the camera with little budget. Hargrave Arcade lent their space for filming and singers James McMurtry, John Dee Graham, band The Octopus Project, actress Heather Kafka, and animator Don Hertzfeldt all donated their talent.
Geoff's scene comes two thirds of the way through the film and features a crazy dude with a video backpack rambling amongst dozens of TV sets. Tasked with how to make the scene his own, Geoff reached out to Hertzfeldt to play the part of the video backpacker, but in this version, the character was represented a little differently. "I always felt that the original scene was about how things on TV seemed hyper-real and how the guy sitting in the room watching the TVs didn't seem real either. He seemed more like a cartoon or puppet of a person. So I tried elaborating on that idea."
Watching the cast and crew shoot the scene made me miss my days on set in Los Angeles, but I distinctly recognized a unique feel. None of the people there were in it for money, they were there because they simply believed in the project and enjoyed working with one another.
Watching the Austin film community come together to remake a movie about the city they love was inspiring. When I watched the original Slacker again at Alamo's Rolling Roadshow this summer with many members of the original cast and crew present, I saw the movie in a different light. Though atypical and flying in the face of Hollywood norms, Slacker is an example of indie filmmaking in it's truest form — banding together, being fearless and getting it done at all costs.
The movie Slacker is kind of my bag.