Dazed And Confused is groovy as hell, its realistic look at high school, countless quotable lines, and stellar, mid-70s soundtrack establishing it as a top-tier teen movie. For director Richard Linklater, however, thinking about the film brings back some slightly traumatizing memories of a troubled production and meddling studio executives. In a piece for The Guardian, Linklater discusses what made Dazed And Confused such a difficult experience.
“I still have PTSD when I think of how difficult the shoot was. About a month before we started filming, Tom Pollock, the head of Universal, watched Slacker, at which point he realized who he was doing business with and he thought, ‘Oh no, it’s going to be one of those arty, jerk-offski movies,’” Linklater says, noting how the studio was nervous about the amount of improvisation that was going to be featured in the film. “Everyone was on high alert for me after that.”
Things didn’t get easier once principle photography was done, either. Linklater went to Los Angeles to finish up the post-production and Universal generously put him up in some “soulless corporate accommodation.” What was meant to be a quick process continued to drag on as executives attempted to tweak Linklater’s vision in order to improve the ratings from test screening audiences. “They wanted me to put in modern music or reshoot. But I didn’t take any of their dumb ideas,” Linklater says.
In the end, Dazed In Confused barely made its money back at the box office and Linklater never saw a dime in profits. Since then, however, it has become a widely appreciated cult classic, adored by generations of teens who have no frame of reference for the time period in which it’s set. We can only hope that Richard Linklater can find some solace in other people’s enjoyment of a thing that was, at times at least, a real drag to make.
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