Slacker (1991)

R | 97 mins | Comedy | 5 July 1991

Full page view
HISTORY

       Slacker marked Richard Linklater’s feature film writing, directing, and producing debut. The script drew from “personal anecdotes, overheard conversations and swatches of cultural color” Linklater observed in Austin, TX, in the years he spent there after dropping out of Sam Houston State University, as stated in a 7 Aug 1991 NYT article.
       The film was shot over the course of two months in summer 1989. According to various contemporary sources including the 13 Aug 1992 HR, the production budget was $23,000. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 7 Aug 1991 NYT stated that funding came from friends and family, credit card advances, a sale to West German television and a $2,000 grant from the Southwest Alternate Media Project. A 24 Jul 1991 LAT article noted that the $35,000 sale to West German television came after a portion of the film screened at the Independent Features Market in New York City.
       Linklater estimated that he knew thirty percent of the cast prior to filming, while others were recruited on the streets of Austin, where the film was based and shot. Some cast members included musicians from the bands Poi Dog Pondering, The Butthole Surfers, Glass Eye, and Ed Hall.
       In the spring of 1990, Slacker premiered at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, TX. The film went on to be well received at the Seattle Film Festival, Munich International Film Festival, and the French-American Film Workshop in Avignon, France. It was also selected to screen at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. Linklater personally arranged for the first theatrical release at the Dobie Theater ... More Less

       Slacker marked Richard Linklater’s feature film writing, directing, and producing debut. The script drew from “personal anecdotes, overheard conversations and swatches of cultural color” Linklater observed in Austin, TX, in the years he spent there after dropping out of Sam Houston State University, as stated in a 7 Aug 1991 NYT article.
       The film was shot over the course of two months in summer 1989. According to various contemporary sources including the 13 Aug 1992 HR, the production budget was $23,000. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 7 Aug 1991 NYT stated that funding came from friends and family, credit card advances, a sale to West German television and a $2,000 grant from the Southwest Alternate Media Project. A 24 Jul 1991 LAT article noted that the $35,000 sale to West German television came after a portion of the film screened at the Independent Features Market in New York City.
       Linklater estimated that he knew thirty percent of the cast prior to filming, while others were recruited on the streets of Austin, where the film was based and shot. Some cast members included musicians from the bands Poi Dog Pondering, The Butthole Surfers, Glass Eye, and Ed Hall.
       In the spring of 1990, Slacker premiered at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, TX. The film went on to be well received at the Seattle Film Festival, Munich International Film Festival, and the French-American Film Workshop in Avignon, France. It was also selected to screen at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. Linklater personally arranged for the first theatrical release at the Dobie Theater in Austin, where the 16mm film played for eleven weeks. After receiving “rave reviews” at the Seattle Film Festival, Orion Classics acquired distribution rights, remixed the soundtrack, and blew up the film to 35mm. Linklater used money from the acquisition to pay cast members who had worked for free.
       The film screened as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) New Directors/New Films Series on 22 Mar 1991. The first Orion Classics release date followed on 5 Jul 1991 at New York City’s Angelika Film Center, and by 7 Aug 1991, the NYT reported the release had expanded to Los Angeles and San Diego, CA, and Dallas and Houston, TX. The 2 Dec 1991 Var reported box-office earnings of over $1 million and noted the film had “many markets left to play.”
       Critical reception was generally positive. The film was nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature and Best Director, and went on to become a “cult hit,” as noted in the 13 Sep 2004 issue of Time. A newly restored preservation print screened at the Sundance Film Festival on 24 Jan 2010, as part of the festival’s “From the Collection” screening series. A book about the film, including the screenplay and Linklater’s notes on the project, was released by St. Martin’s Press in Aug 1992, which paid Linklater an advance in the “low five figures,” as stated in 6 Nov 1991 and 13 Aug 1992 HR news items.

      End credits include “Special Thanks” to: "The Austin Film Society; G.E.A.R., Vince Hostak; Southwest Alternative Media Project; Aaron’s Used Auto Parts; Austin Community Television; Blue Bayou; Continental Club; Foodland; Ginny’s; GM Steakhouse; Great Texas Music Hall; Green Acres Co-Op; Greyhound Bus Lines; Half Price Books; The Independent Feature Project; Les Amis Sidewalk Cafe; Quackenbush’s Cafe; Roy’s Taxi; Shiner of Austin; Southwest Film Lab; Tamale House; Texas Pacific Film, Video; Texas Theatre Supply; Varsity Theatre; Wheatsville Food Co-Op; Tomas Pantin; Paul Agemerien; Caroline Adams; Max Addison; Hans Alehag; Karen Arikian; BJ Armstrong; Norm Ballinger; Renee Barron; Barbara Baruch; Charles Berg; Jim Berry; Rebekah Bogage; David Chan; Mark Coffey; Maxi Cohen; Bill Daniel; Greg Cundiff; Iris Davis; Jerry Defrese; Michael Diaz; Werner Dutsch; David Ferrer; Steve Fitch; Arlene Garfield; John French; Joey Grundel; Bud George; Vance Holmes; Robert “Mo” Harry; Jeff Hoppenstein; Don Howard; Schyler Hupp; Clay Hunn; Marie Javins; Robert Jacks; Nick Joost; Steve Jones; Ted Kilian; Tim Kerr; Richard Kooris; Tom King; Jay Krieger; Charles Krieger; Mona Lee; Claire LaVay; Charles Linklater; Carol Lewellen; Jacque Linklater; Diane Linklater; Brian Locklin; Patricia Linklater; Robert Lowe; Darryl Macdonald; Jason Martin; Karol Martesko; Nan Meltzer; Jennifer McCauley; Rachael Moeller; Shirley Montgomery; Sid Moody; Penny Moran; Sheilah Murthy; Chale Nafus; Molly Omelchuck; Jamie Panzer; Ron Parks; Roger Parthasarathy; Kari Perkins; Jeff Phillips; John Pierson; Steve Poe; Jon Pray; Gary Price; Lisa Qualls; Ulla Rapp; David Ray; Nancy Raveling; Edwin Reed; John Ridenour; Karen Rupert; Steve Samuels; Ferrel Schinnick; Thomas Selsley; Art Silver; Jeff Smith; Kim Spears; Newman P. Stribling; Robin Stanton; Randy Turner; Evelyn Talmadge; Nicholas Vroman; Scott Van Horn; Ray Washam; Todd Walker; Britt Wilson; Steve Wertheimer; Barbara Zimmerman; Jim Wilson." End credits also include the following statements: “This story was based on fact. Any similarity with fictional events or characters is entirely coincidental”; and, “In memory: George Morris.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1991
p. 10, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1991
p. 12, 35.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1991
p. 10.
New York Times
5 Jul 1991
p. 6.
New York Times
7 Aug 1991
Section C, p. 13.
Time
13 Sep 2004.
---
Variety
28 Jan 1991
p. 71.
Variety
1 Jul 1991.
---
Variety
2 Dec 1991.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Detour Filmproduction presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dolly grip/Asst cam
Steadicam op
Key grip
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dept
Graphics
FILM EDITORS
Negative cutter
SOUND
Stereo consultant
Re-rec and sd mix
Post prod sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
Optical
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Addl text
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Promotions/Pub
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col
SOURCES
SONGS
“Disturbed Young Man (With A Tan),” written and performed by Keith McCormack
“White Walls,” words by Scott Marcus, music by Glass Eye, performed by Glass Eye, courtesy of Bar None Records and Vomit Creek Publishing
“Lackluster,” written and performed by Poi Dog Pondering, courtesy of CBS Records
+
SONGS
“Disturbed Young Man (With A Tan),” written and performed by Keith McCormack
“White Walls,” words by Scott Marcus, music by Glass Eye, performed by Glass Eye, courtesy of Bar None Records and Vomit Creek Publishing
“Lackluster,” written and performed by Poi Dog Pondering, courtesy of CBS Records
“Bills,” written and performed by Bad Mutha Goose, courtesy of Alpha International Records
“Big Business Monkey,” written and performed by Daniel Johnston, courtesy of Homestead Records
“Lula’s Bar & Pool,” written and performed by Shoulders, courtesy of Kasslett Music
“Seven Song,” written and performed by Stick People, courtesy of CBS Music
“Jesus Is Coming Soon (To A Theatre Near You), written and performed by Jean Caffeine
“Brand New Way,” written and performed by The Hickoids
“Colored F. B. I. Guy,” written and performed by The Butthole Surfers, courtesy of Latino Bugger Veil Music
“America’s King,” written and performed by Triangle Mallet Apron
“Brothers Grimm,” written and performed by Triangle Mallet Apron
“White Bread,” written by Michael Chester, performed by Not For Sale
“Little Black Sunrise,” written and performed by The Texas Instruments, courtesy of Longhead Music/Rockvillage Music
“Killer Rockers,” written by Brent Bingamon, performed by Pocket Fisherman
“Charlie,” written and performed by Crust
“They’ll Love You For It,” written and performed by Crust
“Sedrick,” written and performed by Ed Hall, courtesy of Boner Records
“Ventricular Refibulation,” written and performed by the Jackofficers, courtesy of Latino Bugger Veil Music
“Aphrodite,” written by Lynn Keller/St. Cecilia, performed by St. Cecilia
“Fight It Out,” written by Jim Roche, from his spoken word album Learning To Count, performed in the movie by Kendal Smith, courtesy of Jim Roche
“Die Graskop Polka,” written by Nico Carstens, Full Keel Music Co., on behalf of Shisa Intl., courtesy of Larry Hall/Harry Maselow (Strand Records)
“Strangers Die Everyday,” written and performed by the Butthole Surfers, courtesy of Latino Bugger Veil Music.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 July 1991
Premiere Information:
New Directors/New Films screening: 22 March 1991
New York opening: 5 July 1991
Los Angeles opening: 26 July 1991 at the Nuart Theatre
Production Date:
summer 1989
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Austin, Texas, young people, many of them unemployed, go about their day. One young man arriving in town tells a silent taxicab driver about a strange dream he had on the bus. He explains a book he discovered in the dream, which posited that any time a person makes a choice, all the options they did not choose lead to alternate realities. He ponders what it would be like if everything he chose not to do became its own reality. The driver lets him out on a street corner just as an elderly woman is hit by a station wagon. As the hit-and-run-driver speeds away, the young man goes to call for help. Moments later, the hit-and-run driver parks outside a house down the street. Inside, he answers the phone and is alerted that his mother was just hit by a car. Taking the news calmly, he hangs up, lights a candle, and starts a movie projector. Police arrive to arrest him as an old home movie plays. Elsewhere, at a coffee shop, three young men discuss philosophy. One of them asserts that no one has ever written a great work about the immense effort required not to create, and suggests that passivity might lead to freedom. Another asks about a friend he has not seen in days, then leaves the coffee shop. Outside, he runs into a man who follows him down the road, spouting conspiracy theories about secret National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) missions to the moon and Mars, which he believes has been inhabited by humans since May 22, 1962. Nearby, a group of housemates discuss the abrupt departure of their roommate Paul, who ... +


In Austin, Texas, young people, many of them unemployed, go about their day. One young man arriving in town tells a silent taxicab driver about a strange dream he had on the bus. He explains a book he discovered in the dream, which posited that any time a person makes a choice, all the options they did not choose lead to alternate realities. He ponders what it would be like if everything he chose not to do became its own reality. The driver lets him out on a street corner just as an elderly woman is hit by a station wagon. As the hit-and-run-driver speeds away, the young man goes to call for help. Moments later, the hit-and-run driver parks outside a house down the street. Inside, he answers the phone and is alerted that his mother was just hit by a car. Taking the news calmly, he hangs up, lights a candle, and starts a movie projector. Police arrive to arrest him as an old home movie plays. Elsewhere, at a coffee shop, three young men discuss philosophy. One of them asserts that no one has ever written a great work about the immense effort required not to create, and suggests that passivity might lead to freedom. Another asks about a friend he has not seen in days, then leaves the coffee shop. Outside, he runs into a man who follows him down the road, spouting conspiracy theories about secret National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) missions to the moon and Mars, which he believes has been inhabited by humans since May 22, 1962. Nearby, a group of housemates discuss the abrupt departure of their roommate Paul, who moved all his things out except a stack of postcards that tell the story of “Juan,” who left the country to join a group of radicals planning to return to the U.S. with nuclear weapons. Overhearing their conversation, a young man asks if he can have Paul’s room, then leaves for band practice. On the street, the young man runs into Stephanie, who confesses that she recently got out of a mental hospital. The young man reveals that he is unemployed, and his band recently changed its name to The Ultimate Losers. They are interrupted by an enthusiastic girl who tries to sell them a jar that allegedly contains a pap smear taken from the pop star, Madonna. At a diner, a woman talks to herself and scribbles on a pad of Post-it notes. She notices a man reading the newspaper and repeatedly tells him never to sexually traumatize a woman. Outside, a group of children sell stolen cans of soda to three friends. The three walk to a bridge, where one instructs another to throw a tent into the river as retaliation against a girl who scorned them both. The third friend meets up with a girl in town, who gives change to a beggar. He tells her that helping others is an escape from working on oneself, but she argues that his philosophies are baseless. At a scrapyard, two scavengers search for car parts. Driving away, they pick up a man in a suit who tells them he has just been to a funeral for his abusive stepfather. He imagines he will one day return to the cemetery to dance on the man’s grave. In town, the suited man bums a cigarette outside a restaurant and is approached by a woman who asks to interview him. While a cameraman films, the suited man answers questions, explaining that he did not vote in the last election and is unemployed but likes his life. He says he will get a job when he hears “the true call,” then looks into the camera and tells workers that the commodities they produce are a piece of their own death. A father and daughter see a girl suspected of shoplifting as they leave a store. The father observes that it is always good to see young people doing anything. They return home to find an inept robber, who holds them up at gunpoint. The father assures the robber he will not call police and invites him to take whatever he wants. He points to a photograph of William McKinley’s assassin, a Polish anarchist whom he considers to be a hero. He suggests they go for a walk, and the robber follows as the man discusses politics and cheerily states that he has given up on mankind in its entirety. The robber politely declines the father’s invitation to dinner. Instead, he meets his friends under a highway overpass, and they reprimand him for failing to steal a television. One of the friends visits someone who lives in a room filled with television sets. Afterward, he runs into a girl on the street who offers him a card from a deck of “oblique strategies.” The card reads, “Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy.” The girl announces she has had a breakthrough day, because she now understands that the underlying order of the universe is chaos. Her girl friend arrives and apologizes for being late, but the girl responds, “That’s all right, time doesn’t exist.” She pulls up her sunglasses to reveal a black eye but says she does not want to talk about it. They go to a bar, where two patrons discuss hidden messages in children’s television shows, like The Smurfs and Scooby Doo, Where Are You! In a booth, three girls discuss romantic relationships. One of them is just getting over a break-up while another believes the natural human state is to be alone and unencumbered by relationships, career, or children. A man named Steve invites the girls to a nightclub where his friend’s band is playing. On the drive there, Steve flirts with the recently single girl although he tells her he does not have a girl friend because women are from hell. When they arrive at the nightclub, Steve is not on the guest list as promised. Later, a bouncer encounters a British photographer and teases her about being an artist. The bouncer says that all he does is work at the bar, eat, sleep, and watch movies. As they talk, the photographer’s male friend leaves. In the parking lot, he notices a girl standing by his car and motions for her to get in. Early the next morning, the girl puts on her clothes and leaves the man’s apartment. She walks past an elderly man recording his thoughts on a Dictaphone. The elderly man expresses the notion that the thing most feared in secret always happens. However, he believes that the more pain grows, the more the instinct for life asserts itself. He remarks that the necessary beauty in life is in giving yourself to it completely. A group of young people wielding movie cameras drive past in a convertible. They drive to a wooded area, where one of them throws his camera off a cliff. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.