Ten takeaways from “Made in Austin: A Look into Song to Song” at SXSW

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Holy cats, there he is: Director Terrence Malick, one of the most private filmmakers of his generation, hanging out on stage with Richard Linklater and Michael Fassbender, the latter a star of Malick’s “Song to Song,” chatting Saturday morning at South by Southwest.

REVIEW: The gorgeous ‘Song to Song’ has little to do with music or Austin

PHOTOS: ‘Song to Song’ red carpet at the Paramount Theater

The original cut was about eight hours long. “There was no part of the shooting day that was idle,” Fassbender said. “If we were on the way to a location, we were shooting on the way to the location.”

On finding the character as one goes and the improvisational nature of the shoot. “I like not having lines to learn.” Fassbender said. “It’s a very liberating thing when you’re not carrying dialogue. It’s very hard not to load an intention if I am getting lines as I go.”

From left, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling star in Terrence Malick’s “Song to Song.” Contributed by Van Redin / Broad Green Pictures

Sometimes, Malick is shooting something that is not the actor. “I’ll be acting my socks off and Terry will be filming a beetle,” Fassbender said.

On setting his films now rather than in the past.  Malick said he was a bit timid at setting his films in the present. “(One struggles to find) images you can use that haven’t been a part of advertising,” Malick said. “But then you find there are as many today as there were in the past.”

The original title was “Weightless.” “We had a title card from Virginia Woolf at the beginning,” Malick said. (“How can I proceed now, I said, without a self, weightless and visionless, through a world weightless…”). This ended up still being a bit of a theme.

On having, as Linklater put it, “punk rock elders” in the film. “I was trying not to be overwhelmed by these rock gods,” Fassbender said, “but I do remember that both Patti Smith and Flea, you would put the camera on them and words would just flow out. And then all of the Chili Peppers beat me up.”

Fassbender wishes there was more Val Kilmer kept in. “I was hanging on by my fingernails,” Fassbender said. “He is a force. To be in (this kind of movie), you have to be prepared to fall on your face over and over again all day. That is what I found so impressive about Val.”

On Fassbender maybe directing. “I would like to direct,” Fassbender said. “What would I like to direct? Something contained.” Which this film was not.

“I have no idea when,” he continued. “Starting as an actor, I found I was so focused for so many years on getting an opportunity to work, then focused on getting a lead role. (Now that he has done both of those things) I’ve started to enjoy more and more the collaborative process, the idea that you get the bunch of strangers together and get it to gel.”

On Austin changing. “Your film is already a period film,” Linklater joked. This is actually true, as Malick noted — Alamo Drafthouse South looks totally different now.

Linklater and Malick versus the movie: “Everything you see is the tip of the iceberg (for these characters),” Linklater said. “(To see these movies), I think it just adds a depth, a poetic memory feeling.”

In seeing the bits of pieces of their lives, Malick said, “It’s like the dialogue in the movie, ‘Can you live in this world moment to moment, song to song, kiss to kiss.’ It’s a hard thing to convey.”

 

 

 

 

Richard Linklater makes Time 100 Most Influential People list

He didn’t walk home with the best director trophy for 2014’s “Boyhood,” but Austin director Richard Linklater joined an elite club Thursday: the Time 100.

The magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world inducted Linklater into the same league as rapper Kanye West, Apple CEO Tim Cook, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, singer Taylor Swift and President Barack Obama, among 94 other luminaries.

(JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
(JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

>> RELATED PHOTOS: TIME 100 Most Influential People 2015

As is customary for the Time 100, a contemporary, peer or notable fan wrote the profile of each honoree, and frequent Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke did the honors for the “Before Sunrise” director. A sample:

“We may never understand Rick’s unorthodox path and how it led to movies like School of Rock, Before Sunrise and Boyhood: the vegetarian baseball star from Huntsville, Texas; the years of hard labor on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico; teaching himself the history of film through the ingenuity of starting the Austin Film Society (with the help of a local Kinko’s and a 16-mm projector).”

Read Hawke’s tribute to Linklater at Time.

Watch: ‘Boyhood’ star Ethan Hawke talks Tolstoy with Charlie Rose

Austin native Ethan Hawke appeared on “Charlie Rose” last week to talk about “Boyhood,” the Richard Linklater film that has scored him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars. In the clip below, Hawke discusses how the director approached him to undertake the daunting, multi-year film shoot, comparing it to Russian literature.

“Boyhood” is nominated for nine Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hawke, who was nominated for his supporting role at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards but did not win, also spoke about the filming process on the red carpet of that ceremony. His co-star, Ellar Coltrane, called Hawke his “best friend” at the event.