Slacker 2011: Bob Ray Directs, Acts and Rides a Pedicab


Slacker 2011 still courtesy CrashCam Films

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project.

Today's interview is with Bob Ray, director of Total Badass and Hell on Wheels. He notes that he repurposed people involved with those documentaries (and other of his past projects) for his Slacker 2011 scene: "Chad Holt [the subject of Total Badass] plays the Grocery Grabber in the Slacker 2011 opening scene and played a weed dealer in my first film, Rock Opera... Total Badass's Adam Reposa is in the Slacker scene. Sarah Kihls (aka Miss Conduct) was in Hell on Wheels and Michael Dalmon, of CrashToons's Platypus Rex and APESH!T fame, both played parts in the scene as well."

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you re-shoot?

Bob Ray: I (along with a bunch of badass Austin musicians, artists, skaters, filmmaker pals and the kickass producer Mia Cevallos) remade the opening scene. It's the scene where Richard Linklater plays a guy who rides a bus into Austin, jumps in a cab and talks about alternate realities and the what-ifs of choices not made. He then hops out of the cab, witnesses a hit-and-run murder and appears to steal someone's purse. Although, he probably just snagged the purse to get the identification of the deceased, but I like to think he straight up stole it.

Why were you looking forward to re-creating this particular scene?

The original scene is a fantastic way to start the film. It's an outsider trekking to the oasis of oddities that is Austin. The scene sets up the entire film with the themes of stories branching off and the endless possibilities of what would happen if different choices were made. The tangential nature of Rick's monologue sets the tone and style for the rest of the flick and the humor and weirdness are front and center. From the get-go, this is the scene I wanted to tackle.

There were a few reasons for this: first of all, I really like how the original was shot and the pacing of it. I like how it starts slow, but builds to a funny and dark climax. Secondly, despite the fact that I'm really none too fond of acting, I had recently created a character that I thought was funny and was looking for a vehicle for it. Earlier in the year, and in the middle of a three-week flu with a 102 degree fever, I donned a newly acquired leisure suit and made a promotional video for a (failed) Kickstarter campaign.

It was probably the fever that should get all the credit, but I actually liked my "acting" in the piece. When the Slacker project came around, I figured that this was as good a chance as any to make use of the character, so I donned the leisure suit, dusted off the globe and had at it.

What do you think your challenges have been in re-visiting this scene?

For me, the biggest challenge was trying both to act and direct. I almost always operate the camera on my films, so it was weird (but nice) not to do that. And I couldn't really watch the performances while I was "acting." On top of that, I didn't have a lot of time to review everything while on location.

The logistical hurdle of illegally blocking off streets with a bloody body sprawled out in an intersection on 24th Street was tricky. We had four different cops stop by to see what was up. Three passersby thought there was a real dead person in the road and offered their help. That was heartwarming.

On the technical end of things, we re-recorded all of the sound and dialogue in post-production to create a slightly surreal effect. That was a ton of work. And, for the shoot itself, we orchestrated a long pedicab shot that involved over 50 people in the background doing various things as the character rambles on about alternative realities and how he might've gotten laid if different choices were made.

Do you have any connections or memories related to the original Slacker?

I grew up here and when Slacker came out, I was making skateboarding videos with my friends in South Austin. I had always been fond of the idea of making movies, but it seemed an impossible dream. I was nowhere near Hollywood and I didn't have access to millions of dollars. Slacker proved that none of that matters. It was inspiring and eye-opening to realize that great movies could be made anywhere and especially here in Austin. And by Austinites, no less.

[Slacker 2011 still courtesy CrashCam Films]