Director Richard Linklater did not originally want to call his new movie "Boyhood." He preferred "12 Years," which makes sense considering the film follows the fictional life of one boy — played throughout by newcomer Ellar Coltrane — over a dozen-year span.
"Late last summer, we were like, '12 Years' is a good title. Has there ever been a film called '12 Years'?" Linklater recalled on TODAY Monday.
The phrase was his ... until a little film called "12 Years a Slave" came along and picked up three Oscars at this year's Academy Awards.
"I went, Really?" Linklater laughed.
That's how his film became "Boyhood." But no matter what it's called, it's a unique piece of filmmaking: Shot in installments over more than a decade, the two-and-a-half hour movie follows the narrative of Coltrane's character, Mason, as he literally grows up on camera. Co-stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, who play Mason's parents, are transformed, as well.
"We had to create a character as seen through the eyes of a 7-, 8-, 9- and 10-year old," Hawke said of his role. "So you watch ... our characters change through (his) eyes."
Making the movie was an education for Coltrane. "It was kind of an art camp," he said. "I didn't have a lot of commitments growing up, so it was kind of like something to go back to and kind of be invested in, definitely. It kind of set a pace to get to work with these guys. They have quite a method."
"Boyhood" opens in select theaters on July 11 and nationwide on July 18.