Slacker 2011: Sam Wainwright Douglas Decides to Hitchhike


Chris Trew, Christopher Lee and Adam Parks in Slacker 2011

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 (TFPF). 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 Sam Wainwright Douglas, documentarian and director of Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, as well as The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose. He also acted in 2010's The Happy Poet.

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you reshoot?

Sam Douglas: I shot Scene 12, known as the mechanic scene. It's the one where the conspiracy buff annoys the guy working on his car, the mechanic's buddy shows up, they talk cars, they head to the junkyard, swipe some auto parts, pick up an angry, grumpy hitchhiker, he rants for a while as they drive him around and then they drop him off.

Why did you look forward (or did you?) to re-creating this particular scene?

I looked forward to re-creating this scene because I was excited to update the conspiracy theories to be of the "9/11 was an inside job" variety and to update the mechanics as bio-diesel, veggie oil "green" car gearheads. I saw a lot of potential for comedy and updating it in a way that showed the same characters and situations still resonate 20 years later.

And, I love the hitchhiker character, he's so grouchy and nihilistic. It's a hilarious role. I love it so much, in fact, I decided that I would play the hitchhiker. I couldn't resist.Sam Douglas

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

The challenge for me was getting back into the game of fiction filmmaking. I'm mostly a documentary filmmaker. I hadn't done any fiction work in probably seven or eight years. Luckily, my buddy David Hartstein is a killer producer, so he whipped me into shape. And, the whole crew was stellar. We had Clay Liford on camera.

My actors Chris Trew, Christopher Lee and Adam Parks all had great ideas to add to the characters and all excelled at improv. Adam's a master mechanic by day, so he also co-produced, helping us get vehicles, locations ... making sure the chop-top Dodge Ram lowrider didn't stop working on us. And, I guess the other challenge is hoping Richard Linklater doesn't cringe when he sees what we did.

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

I saw Slacker when I was in 9th or 10th grade. I was really getting into non-megaplex movies, and I was trying to see every arthouse film that came out. I saw Slacker at the Greenway 3 in Houston, one of only two arthouse theaters in town at the time. Now, there's only one.

But, I remember seeing Slacker and loving the way it progressed over the course of one day, not focusing on a single story but dropping in on a whole spectrum of stories and characters. It was very unpredictable, which made it a lot of fun. The range of eccentric characters was clever, funny and so different form the formulaic character types you see in Hollywood fare.

It was very inspiring to see a movie with such an individual voice. I think it probably gave a whole generation of filmmakers new ideas about structure and being playful with their characters. I loved it.

[Film still and photo courtesy of Sam Douglas]