×

‘Boyhood’s’ Sandra Adair Lets Her Edits Subtly Suggest 12-Year Passage of Time

When director Richard Linklater tapped Sandra Adair to collaborate on “Boyhood,” he asked his longtime editor what she planned to be doing for the next decade or so.

That expansive query kicked off one of the most daring experiments in film history: a 12-year odyssey to capture on the bigscreen the development of one young boy into manhood. Every year, the filmmaker and his cast would shoot for three or four days, and then Adair would splice together the footage over a three- or four-week period. That helped a project that might have seemed overwhelming become more manageable.

“The rhythm of the film came from having all these ordinary moments captured in the script,” Adair says. “I just tried to find the most natural rhythm, because the performances are so grounded in reality.”

The drama examines one Texas family through divorces, graduations, bowling outings and dinner-table confrontations — the flotsam and jetsam of ordinary life. Throughout the course of the picture’s nearly three-hour running time, the two child stars, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater, literally grow up onscreen, while the actors playing their parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) slide into middle age.

“It was thrilling to go back and look at the early years on the project, and see the physical changes that had occurred with the actors,” Adair says. “It’s a striking and very unique experience to see somebody develop and change the way we see our cast change.”

One daring aspect of the picture is that it seamlessly glides along without having any signposts that inform viewers a year has passed.

“We were certain that we didn’t want to have a big delineation between the years,” Adair explains. “We wanted it to unfold, and allow the audience to catch up to the changes in time in a smooth and non-jarring way. Time washes by in the film like it does in reality, and we don’t always know it’s passing until it’s already happened.”

Adair has worked with Linklater for more than 20 years, editing some of the indie auteur’s most beloved works, such as “School of Rock” and “Bernie.” There’s a groundedness to his work that she finds appealing. That understated quality defined her favorite scene in the film — a talk Hawke has on the importance of contraception with his two children.

“They’re all just going through embarrassment and awkwardness, and I was able to grab the moments that make that scene come alive and feel natural,” she says.

The film has attracted raves from critics and audiences, and is already being pegged as a major awards contender. Adair says she has been approached by many viewers who have found personal resonance with the family’s onscreen journey.

“It just seems to strike a chord,” she notes. “Whether it’s the mom raising kids as a single parent or people being remind of growing up with divorced parents or alcoholic stepfathers, it seems to hit the nail on the head.”

More Artisans

  • Home Again Trinidad and Tobago

    Trinidad and Tobago Attracts Producers by Adding Hefty Cash Incentive to Visual Lures

    A dual-island Caribbean nation that fits fulfills the all visual requirements of a tropical paradise, Trinidad and Tobago offers a striking variety of shooting locales ranging from azure waters, white sands, thick jungle, sprawling savannahs and – on the urban side – bustling cities. Though the islands have predominantly housed local films, they are now [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

  • Les Miserables BBC

    BBC's 'Les Miserables' Recreates the Dark World of Victor Hugo's Novel

    Director Tom Shankland didn’t want his “Les Miserables” to be anything like the stage-musical version of Victor Hugo’s sweeping historical novel, nor like the 2012 Tom Hooper feature-film musical.  For the BBC limited series — a drama starring Olivia Colman, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo and Dominic West, which aired the first of its six episodes in [...]

  • Marsai Martin Little Movie

    How the 'Little' Production Team Created Look of Marsai Martin-Regina Hall Comedy

    What if you could return to a time in your childhood and relive your life from that point knowing what you know now? That’s the fantasy at the core of Universal’s “Little,” released April 12, in which Regina Hall’s Jordan Sanders, a character overwhelmed by the pressures of adulthood, gets the chance to relive the [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 BTS

    How 'Game of Thrones'' Locations Have Expanded With the Series

    When the eighth and final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” debuts on April 14, the show’s millions of followers will once again be transported to the exotic lands and sweeping landscapes where the saga is set. From King’s Landing to The Wall, stunning locations have been woven into the fabric of “Thrones” since its [...]

  • In The Dark CW

    How 'In the Dark' Trained a Regular Dog to Act as a Guide Dog

    There used to be an adage in show business about never working with animals or children, but for Violetta Hessing, there’s nothing more fulfilling than finding a dog that wants to be on set and training it to deliver just as much emotion as its human scene partners. Hessing owns and is the head trainer [...]

  • Ryan Higa Youtube Star

    YouTube Star Ryan Higa Shows the Way to Maintain Independence With DIY Studio

    Hollywood creatives have always dreamed of having total control of their work. For most of them, it has been just that: a dream.  But that doesn’t hold true for a new breed of content creators: YouTube influencers. These individuals, with no corporate boss to answer to, and whose work is growing in scope and impact, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content