The Austin Chronicle

The Slacker 2011 Interviews: Spencer Parsons 2

By Marc Savlov, August 26, 2011, 10:29am, Picture in Picture

Yeah, we know: Slacker is, like, so 1991 and so now. Fittingly, Slacker 2011 is just as zeitgeist-accurate as the film it pays homage to. It's an Austin update that's altogether accurate and iPhone-friendly, by way of Buñuel, via Spencer Parsons.

Austin Chronicle: The scene you directed is dubbed "Phone Call and Police," and it's actually the first anti-plot trigger, right after Bob Ray's new intro …

Spencer Parsons: What was interesting to me about this one and what I like about it is that it's one of the more lurid situations in the movie.

AC: It's the set-up for the whole film, really.

SP: I remember when I first got to Austin and I was on that walking tour you do of Slacker locations. I came across the what was known as the "Slacker House" or the "Finger Hut" right off of UT campus. Which, of course, was where Rick Linklater and a whole bunch of folks had lived in for a while. But not long after I got to town, some developer bought it and turned it into a 1950s-style diner. And then not long after that it turned into a cheap Chinese place. And then not long after that it turned into a Quiznos. It was really interesting to me because what that place had been was still recognizable. Architecturally it remained the same building, to the point that you could aim your camera at it and people will recognize it from the original Slacker. And yet on the other hand it's become something so different.

What I particularly like is how that scene messed up the story. Somebody runs over their own parents, and then they go home, and home happens to be right there. But the filming location has become a Quiznos over time, so what does that do to the scene? And, actually, Quizno's had gone out of business by the time we were shooting. We ended up shooting [the interiors] in Simply Fit, which was great because it provided a view of the street. We could show a corpse in the street in the background of one of our shots, which was kind of nice.

AC: Your scene plays like a Les Amis-Inner Sanctum-Let's Go Skate flashback with iPhones and kids. Which changes everything. And without raising spoilers, this is really the most important scene in both films: it's the segue into Austin, then and now.

SP: Well, originally I wanted Rick to be the Roadkill, which to his credit he had no interest in being. But that got me thinking that someone like Rick's character, as an adult, would probably have a kid who was twelve or thirteen years old. So adding kids and iPhones made [the scene] even more perverse and interesting as a time-marker for Austin. When I last lived in Austin, it seemed like one of those 'Make a Film in 24-Hours' contests was happening every weekend. It's a reference to where [Austin] is right now.

AC: Your scene very eloquently collapses all kinds of media into one single frame of semi-reference. In a good way, we mean.

SP: Remember in the original scene, the guy is getting a call on a phone while he's looking at a Super-8 film projection? What's really funny is that now both of those are the same device. That's where the whole thing came together for me. What I wanted create was something that felt as if Buñuel had made an ad for iPhones. I think I failed – I'm no Luis Buñuel – but that's sort of how the whole thing came together.

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