Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Is Packed: Dylan, Arcade Fire and 39 More

From Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire, Linklater's latest indie doesn't skimp.

A version of this article first appeared in the July 26th issue of Billboard Magazine.

The most commonly cited number associated with Richard Linklater’s "Boyhood" is 12 --  the number of years the "Dazed and Confused" director spent shooting four actors to tell the story of a family as it develops.

An equally astonishing number is 41 -- the number of master recordings licensed for the independent film, songs by Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Wings, Foster the People, Lady Gaga, Phoenix and the notoriously difficult to clear Arcade Fire. Nonesuch signed on to release the soundtrack, which led to Linklater and his music supervisors Randall Poster and Meghan Currier, securing a new track from Jeff Tweedy plus songs from the label’s acts  Black Keys and Wilco.

“I realized score wouldn’t work -- it had to feel like music came out of the culture,” says Linklater, 53, who inserted musical touches that included the singing of the Britney Spears’ hit “Oops! … I Did It Again,” a discourse on Beatles solo work and a thumbs up to Bright Eyes. Having earned rave reviews at Sundance, SXSW and the Berlin festivals, "Boyhood" opened in New York and Los Angeles on July 11, expanding nationwide July 18.


In 2010, Linklater began to formalize the process for making music selections. Each scene -- the film covers 2002-2014, grade school to high school graduation for the boy Mason (Ellar Coltrane) -- required songs that were not only current, but culturally relevant.

An intern brought him Family of the Year’s “Hero,” one of the last songs in the film. “It was almost too good, too dead on. Something personal had happened to him and he heard that song and because of it, he had the feeling everything was going to be OK. I loved that even one person could have that connection with a song.”

One-third of the film’s $2.5 million budget, Linklater estimates, went toward music, “the single biggest line item” on the film. As was done with actors and crew members, deals were structured heavy on the back-end.

“We put out some serious money, just not full boat,” he says. “There were a lot of different deals in place -- [Poster and Currier] got creative. But everybody who worked on the movie was in that same position.”


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.