TIME

17-Year-Old Pilot Haris Suleman’s Tragic Quest

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A close family friend says that 17-year-old Haris Suleman’s attempt to circumnavigate the world in 30 days really wasn’t about breaking any records. “He said that he would not be in the U.S. if it wasn’t for the education that his father got in Pakistan,” says Azher Khan, a close family friend. “And he wanted to raise awareness about impoverished children there.”

Haris was in the final days of his whirlwind journey intended to do just that when the single-engine plane he was flying went down in the Pacific Ocean between American Samoa and Honolulu. Crews recovered Haris’ body after a crash late Tuesday and are still searching for his father, Babar Suleman, a 58-year-old amateur pilot who accompanied Haris on the trip.

If the two had completed the trip, Haris would have set the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world in a single-engine plane, and he would have become the youngest pilot to lead such a journey (Babar only logged three minutes as the pilot in command). Investigators are still looking into the cause of the accident.

As family members and friends gather at the Suleman home in Plainfield, Ind., their Ramadan prayers have been tinged with memories of their lost family members.

“It was a noble cause and that is something that is important,” Khan says of the inspiration for the trip that led to Haris’ death.

Haris was the youngest of the Sulemans’ three children, all of whom were born in the U.S. after the family emigrated from Pakistan. Khan says Haris was a free spirit and a popular student at Plainfield High School, where he was soon to begin his senior year. Haris played varsity soccer and was “a joker on the bus,” according to Khan. But he was serious about flying.

Haris began flying with his father when he was just eight years old and received his pilot’s license in June. The around-the-world trip was planned as a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. The duo went to great lengths to prepare, simulating plane crashes in water and taking survival courses. Babar had mapped the trip so they would be close to major shipping lanes if the plane crashed, thinking it would give them a better chance of being rescued.

“They knew the perils and had been training,” Khan says. Babar, an engineer, “had this love for flying that his son took upon him and carried on.”

During the trip, Haris occasionally blogged for the Huffington Post. On July 16, he wrote a piece explaining why the spirit of the trip was more important than its risks:

A lot of people have expressed concern that the journey that my father and I have set out on is a risky venture. Some have even questioned why we would put ourselves through such a challenge. I simply ask them: Why did Edmund Hillary Climb Mt Everest? Why did Christopher Columbus discover America? Why did Marco Polo travel to China? There is a part of everyone that craves discovery and adventure and we have chosen to live out this craving. Breaking out of the routine of day to day life requires bravery in more than one form.

Adventure for the sake of a good cause is a Suleman family tradition, Khan says: While in the Peace Corps, Haris’ older brother climbed Mount Kilamanjaro for charity, despite breaking his hand shortly before the ascent.

Khan, who became close to the Suleman family through their childrens’ friendships, says he was receiving regular updates from them during the trip. He opened his last email from Babar, which included pictures of Pakistani children at schools built with funds from the Citizens Foundation, on Wednesday morning.

“While I was sharing those memories with others,” Khan says quietly, “at that time the accident had already happened.”

TIME Small Business

Recycle, Reuse, Reproft: Startups Try to Make Money Selling Your Stuff

Phones, clothes and even food get a second life on these sites

In a bustling San Francisco warehouse, a buyer for a startup called Twice is inspecting a pair of used jeans. She checks the buttonholes and zipper for snags, the legs and cuffs for wear. If the pants pass inspection, the old owner gets paid and the pants are cataloged, steamed and photographed before being listed on Twice’s website–at a fraction of their original cost (perhaps $19 for Levi’s). When someone else buys them, they become a pound or two of the 400 tons of clothing that Twice will resell this year. “It’s environmental,” says co-founder Noah Ready-Campbell of Twice’s mission. “It’s about reusing clothing and avoiding manufacturing more.”

Twice is one of many startups attempting to make the environmentally sound choice preferable and easy for consumers while making a profit in the process. The statistics driving these efforts are shocking: In the U.S., 90% of mobile devices are thrown away rather than recycled. Up to 40% of the food produced gets trashed. Americans junk some 12 million tons of textiles each year. “There’s no way we can continue to produce waste at the level that we are and survive on this planet,” says Adam Werbach, a co-founder of Yerdle, a site where people trade things they might otherwise throw out. “It really is much easier to click a button than it is to knock on your neighbor’s door.” And that is the convenience gap these enviro-preneurs hope to close.

Consider the steps involved in listing a used iPhone on eBay: take a picture, set a fair price, outline the specs, connect your bank, pay fees, wait a week for bids to come in and then hope it actually sells. These are inefficiencies that Silicon Valley types seek out like bloodhounds. “People actually feel guilt that they’re holding onto these items,” says Ryan Mickle, founder of the electronics auction site FOBO, where bidding lasts only 97 minutes and the company suggests starting prices for you. But in surveys with potential users, he found that ignoring old stuff still causes less angst than confronting what can be the messy process of getting it to someone else.

Many items cluttering closets and garages are less desirable than gadgets: DVDs, picture frames, bird books, an old wine carafe. These are items companies like Listia and Yerdle want on their sites, where by giving things away, people earn credits that they can spend on other users’ property. The sites aim to replace the rush that accompanies buying something new with the fun of bartering and the satisfaction that comes from giving away something you don’t need. “People are seeking out human connection in our day-to-day economic transactions,” says Arun Sundararajan, a business professor at New York University who studies these budding economies. “There is a noneconomic value that comes from giving your stuff to other people.”

Sundararajan says that if a company like Yerdle achieves its aim of displacing 25% of new sales, that’s good for the economy because it decreases waste. On the flip side, there is a possibility of job losses among people who make those new items. But he believes that other jobs in newer sectors would replace them, as happened when technological innovation put farmers out of work. “Efficiency is the name of the game in all of consumption,” says Ready-Campbell of Twice, “and in the whole economy, really.”

TIME Culture

This is What ‘Bae’ Means

Recording artist Pharrell Williams performs onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 17, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Recording artist Pharrell Williams performs onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 17, 2014 in Los Angeles. Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images For Nickelodeon

TIME gives you a primer on slang that Pharrell likes enough to put in the titles of his songs

On Wednesday, Pharrell dropped a video for his new single, “Come Get It Bae,” which may immediately raise some questions, such as “Come get what?” and “What in the world does bae mean, anyway?”

The short answer: Though this word was used in the 1500s to refer to sheep sounds, today bae is used as a term of endearment, often referring to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or perhaps a prospect who might one day hold such a lofty position.

 

Say, for instance, you post a picture of you on a yacht with Beyonce and you just so happen to be Jay-Z. You might give that photo a caption like, “Just another Tuesday with my bae. #surfbort”

There is no doubt that more people are encountering this word and wondering what it means, as evinced by this handy chart from Google Trends:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.38.53 PM

But there are some competing origin stories.

One tale supposes that bae is in fact the acronym BAE, standing for “before anyone else.” But people often like to make up such origin stories that linguists later discover were absolute poppycock, like the idea that the f-word is an acronym dating back to royal days when everyone needed the king’s permission to get in the sack—so they would be having “fornication under consent of the King.” Great story. Totally untrue.

Others argue that bae is simply a shortened version of babe, which would similarly account for the rare ae juxtapostion. Slangsters do love to embrace the “dropped letter” versions of slang words. When cool gets old, there is coo. When crazy gets tiresome, there is cray. You could do me a solid, or just do me a sol.

The term’s usage took off in 2013 and continues to rise. And as more people say bae, it’s likely that the meaning will shift in any case. When words get popular, one of two things tends to happen, as computational linguist Tyler Schnoebelen explains: “As it gets picked up by more people, its meaning will either calcify or bleach.” That is, harden into meaning only one very specific thing, or expand to embrace a range of meanings.

Take the word weird, as in Weird Al Yankovic, the man who has had such fun parodying Pharrell of late. When first used, that word meant “having the power to control the fate or destiny of human beings.” And that is certainly not the meaning we invoke when referring to Mr. Yankovic.

A good rule of thumb for now at least: if you would use the words boo or babe in some circumstance, you can probably use bae.

TIME Culture

How The World Has Changed Since 1850 in 11 Charts

A woman reads the first page of the New York Times of Aril 1, 1968, when the headlines declared : "Johnson Says He Won't Run; Will Halt Bombing in North". This referred to President Johnson's refusal to accept or seek renomination.
A woman reads the first page of the New York Times of Aril 1, 1968, when the headlines declared : "Johnson Says He Won't Run; Will Halt Bombing in North". This referred to President Johnson's refusal to accept or seek renomination. Bettmann/CORBIS

Okay, technichally it's all in one chart-making machine made public on Wednesday by the New York Times

The language that journalists use tells us a lot more than what happened today—there is also a subtext about which topics people want to read about, who is considered noteworthy. Changes in that subtext over time reflect changes in our perception of the world.

A notion like that might sound all nebulous and soppy without hard numbers to back it up. Luckily, we have something even better than numbers: colorful charts! On Wednesday, the New York Times made public a tool that their editors have been hoarding among themselves since 2012. Called Chronicle, the machine allows users to search for and compare how often certain terms have appeared in their coverage between about 1850 and 2012.

Take, for instance, this telling demonstration of how much that media outlet has valued news related to women, compared to men, over time:

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Or take a gander at the amount of times writers have felt need to use the word computer, as opposed to farmer:

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Consider a concept like a mother or woman who is married and does not work. The way we’ve referred to this class of people, responding to insinuations of value or being de-valued, has also shifted:

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Then there are topics that we’ve come to care about that didn’t matter or didn’t even exist as concepts in previous decades, some related to the environment:

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Some related to gender:

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Some related to disease:

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Some related to our bodies:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.14.04 PM And some related to how we transport those bodies:

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The charts can tell us about how slang has evolved:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.10.12 PMAnd what conflicts we’ve lived through, as well as how much relative attention we paid to them:

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You can even ask the machine philosophical questions, like whether people tend to care more when something starts or finishes. The answer might not be definitive, but you will at least find yourself presented with a lovely new visual aid:

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This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME cities

San Francisco Will Vote On Soda Tax in November

San Francisco Board Of Supervisors Proposes Putting Soda Tax On Nov. Ballot
Various bottles of soda are displayed in a cooler at Marina Supermarket on July 22, 2014 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The city could be the first in the nation to tax the sugary drinks

San Francisco lawmakers voted Tuesday to advance a proposal to tax sugary sodas. If voters approve the measure in November, the tax will become the first of its kind in the nation.

“In San Francisco, we set examples,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. “We have a responsibility to try new things and fight the fight and see where this goes.”

The lawmakers agreed that the city would be better off if residents consumed fewer sugary beverages, which have been linked to obesity and diabetes. But the 6-4 vote reflected the divide over whether a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on soda is the best way to promote healthier habits.

Proponents of the measure argued that education alone is not enough and that a financial signal would better get the message across. Critics said that a “regressive flat tax” could end up passing costs onto low-income consumers who disproportionately purchase soda, without curbing soda intake. “This is being forced down people’s throats,” says Supervisor London Breed, who voted against the measure.

A Field Research poll released in February found that 67% of California voters would approve such a tax if the revenue is earmarked for healthy initiatives, as it is in the San Francisco proposal. An analysis from a city economist estimated that the tax would curb soda intake in the city by 31%. Under the measure, a bottle of soda that sells for $1.60 now would cost $2.

To become law, the initiative will have to be approved by two-thirds of voters and withstand strong opposition from deep-pocketed organizations like the American Beverage Association. Such “Big Soda” lobbyists have spent millions defeating soda tax measures in Congress and at least a dozen states. In 2012, soda tax measures in the California towns of El Monte and Richmond failed by wide margins.

Earlier this month, Berkeley lawmakers voted to put a one-cent-per-ounce soda tax before voters there in November.

TIME

TIME Exclusive: Here Are Rules of Using Emoji You Didn’t Know You Were Following

A computational linguist reveals that there are patterns to our madness

There may not be anyone who knows more about emoticons than Tyler Schnoebelen, a man who literally wrote his Stanford doctorate thesis on the subject. He found, for instance, that older people tend to use emoticons with noses, such as [:-)], while younger people are more likely to drop the proboscis. He discovered that roughly 10% of all tweets contain an emoticon. And he observed that the phrase f*** you rarely appears with an emoticon, because those playful little symbols can trivialize feelings like totally hating someone’s guts.

Now an analyst at natural language processing firm Idibon, Schnoebelen has turned his attention to emoticons’ hip young cousins: emoji.

(MORE: The Emoji’s Strange Power)

Disclaimer: There is no instructional grammar primer on how one must use the little graphic symbols known as emoji. And if someone were to write such a work, it would likely be obsolete before it got off the printing press. People are still experimenting with the images, and you might use emoji unlike anyone else on this big ole planet.

That said, there are a few general rules you might not even know you’re following, which Schnoebelen has sussed out analyzing roughly 500,000 sequences of tweets.

Emoji tend to come at the end of messages.

You are much more likely to find this on Twitter:

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Than this:

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Even when emoji appear in the middle of tweets, they often come between complete thoughts, like this:

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They act like punctuation, providing cues about how to understand the words that came before them, as an exclamation point might. Emoji typically add to ideas rather than replace words. “They carry with them a fog of meaning. You can’t exactly pin down what any particular emoji means,” Schnoebelen says. “It’s not a story of simplicity, it’s a story of enrichment.”

Emoji users respect linear time and action.

If you want to point a gun at something, it has to go to the left of the barrel, he says.

It is this:

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Not this:

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And if one is telling a love story, as artist John Michael Boling does in this music video for electronica group Oneohtrix Point Never, that narrative goes like this:

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Not just in some jumble like this:

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A different order could convey an entirely different idea or story, when we’re used to reading our narratives from left to right. Schnoebelen found that when people are putting together sequences of Christmas tweets, the gifts almost always come after Santa and the tree, because Santa has to bring the gifts before they can appear.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.11.34 PM

In sets of two or three emoji, the stance comes before actions or other signals.

The face comes first. Consider “stance” the attitude or emotion you have about something, represented by a happy, sad or flirty yellow face. Schnoebelen found that tweeters make their stance clear right off the bat and then let the attitude displayed by that face help shade the interpretation of the emoji that follow. They are a “key” established at the outset, a bit like G major or C minor.

He found that this order, for instance:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.16.35 PM

Is far more common than this order:

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He found that people weep and then have a broken heart:

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Not the other way around:

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The “stance first” rule may come from emoji and emoticons’ most potent power: conveying the sincerity or politeness or teasing that are so much harder to convey through text alone than through speech, body language and voice cues. “One of the main problems with text communication is that it’s just different from how we’ve talked to each other for most of the existence of language,” Schnoebelen says. “We’re dry in terms of the cues we get to use to signal exactly what we mean, to give nuance to the meaning,” he says. “Emoticons and emoji provide this nice shorthand.”

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME Environment

California Imposes Unprecedented Water Conservation Rules

California Dought Water Fines
A sprinkler system sprays water onto a parked car along the curb in Glendale, Calif., Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Matt Hamilton—AP

New statewide rules target wasteful usage of water in urban settings

California authorities voted Tuesday to put unprecedented, across-the-board emergency regulations in place that will levy fines for wasteful behavior. Activities like using a hose to wash a car without a shut-off nozzle or using drinkable water in certain decorative water features will be banned, while infractions will carry fines of up to $500.

The State Water Resources Control Board also emphasized that reservoirs and rainfall levels remain “critically low,” and communities may risk running out of drinking water as nearly 80% of the state is now experiencing an extreme drought. The conditions have also led to more wildfires and damage to animals’ habitats.

“Outdoor water waste is unacceptable in a time of drought,” Board Chair Felicia Marcus tells TIME. “We don’t know when it’s going to rain again. … This is a dramatic action, but these are dramatic times.”

The vote comes just months after California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January, marking what may become the state’s worst drought in centuries. Despite Brown’s call for residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20%, the state’s water consumption has actually gone up compared to previous years.

What is now a three-year drought has taken a serious toll on Central Valley farmers, who have been forced to leave thousands of acres dormant and lay off thousands of employees. Such rural residents, Marcus says, have already been strictly rationing water, and now it’s time for those who live in cities to step up. “The prohibitions are on water waste. It’s not telling people they can’t have a lawn,” she says. Urban residents, she says, are “not seeing the fallowed fields. That shouldn’t help them sleep too much more easily at night.”

The temporary regulations, which go into place around Aug. 1, also prohibit watering outdoor landscapes generously enough to create runoff onto surfaces like sidewalks or roadways, as well as using water to clean residential driveways or walkways. They place restrictions on urban water suppliers, limiting outdoor irrigation and requiring progress reports. According to the Board, 50% or more of daily water use goes into lawns and landscapes in some areas of the state.

At a Tuesday hearing, individuals from around the state spoke before a Board meeting in Sacramento. A few called the regulations “heavy-handed” government overreach, while others arguing that the emergency measures don’t go far enough given the severity of the drought. After hours of testimony, most seeking clarity about how exceptions might work and how to enforce the regulations, the Board voted 4-0 to approve the measure.

Marcus says these regulations will help send a message about how serious the situation is. She also said they are a “modest” form of conservation that needs to go in place now in order to preserve water for the future. “We were hoping for more voluntary conservation, and that’s the bottom line,” she says. “We hope this will get people’s attention.”

And if the drought gets worse, more mandatory regulations are not out of the question. The state’s Office of Administrative Law still has to approve the package of rules, which is expected in the next two weeks.

TIME States

Proposal to Split California Into 6 States Moves Forward

But don't start throwing out your U.S. maps just yet

Supporters of a long-shot measure that would split California into six states plan to submit 1.3 million signatures to election officials on July 15. The quixotic effort, spearheaded by venture capitalist Tim Draper, needs officials to deem at least 807,615 of those signatures valid in order to qualify for the November 2016 election.

If every signature were valid, that would mean one in about every 30 Californians is ready to cleft America’s most populous state into sixths—or at least vote on the issue in two years. The borders would be established along county lines outlined in the proposal, creating the states of Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

The deadline for qualifying for the 2014 election passed in late June, roughly four months after the California Secretary of State gave initial approval to the proposal. Draper, known for successful investments in companies such as Hotmail and Skype, told TIME about the inspiration behind his proposal in February:

The strongest argument for Six Californias is that we are not well-represented. The people down south are very concerned with things like immigration law and the people way up north are frustrated by taxation without representation. And the people in coastal California are frustrated because of water rights. And the people in Silicon Valley are frustrated because the government doesn’t keep up with technology. And in Los Angeles, their issues revolve around copyright law. Each region has its own interest, and I think California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests. I’m looking at Six Californias as a way of giving California a refresh and allowing those states to both cooperate and compete with each other.

Initial vote counts should be done by September; if a random sample of signatures checks out, county officials will likely move on to verifying each signature. But even if the signatures are there and California residents vote in favor of the proposal come 2016, Congress and the President would have to pass a law approving the separation. And given the amount of upheaval the creation of six new states would cause, that isn’t likely.

Readers can find the full Q&A, where Draper discusses the fact that the division would create both the nation’s richest and poorest states per capita, here.

TIME movies

Everything You Need to Know About the Making of Boyhood Over 12 Years

TIME speaks to director Richard Linklater and stars Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette about their unprecedented project

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On July 11, movie-goers can watch an actor grow up — in real time. Boyhood, the latest offering from director Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Scanner Darkly, School of Rock), follows a first grader named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows into a college freshman. Filmed in Texas over 12 years, the narrative is all about truths that people can actually relate to. The earth is never rent asunder — but a family kind of is. There is no sharknado — but there is a seriously traumatic haircut.

TIME spoke to Linklater and Coltrane, as well as Patricia Arquette, who plays Mason’s mother Olivia, opposite Ethan Hawke as Mason’s father. The interviews were conducted separately, but we’ve spliced them together to give readers a sense of what this unprecedented project looked like from all angles.

When did you conceive of the project?

Richard Linklater: It happened in stages. In the late 90s, I felt like I wanted to tell a story about childhood. I had been a parent for a while, pushing 40. I had something to say, but it wasn’t fitting into one film. Because you have this natural limitation. You can’t ask a seven-year-old to suddenly be a 14-year-old. So I had given up on it. Then, I sat down to write an experimental novel or something in 2001 and that’s where this idea hit me. ‘Oh, what if you filmed a little bit every year.’ And then I could encompass all these ideas. That was the “aha!” moment.

Why did you settle on 12 years?

Linklater: Public school, first through 12th grade. The grid that we’re sentenced to. I remember feeling that, like ‘Oh, I’ve got eight more years of this, seven more years of this…’ It also represented getting out of the house. Freedom awaits at this moment. I knew it would end with him at college. And I knew I would never be bored of this project because it was a deeper well, about maturing, growing up, parenting. There was endless material.

What was your reaction when Richard approached you about being in the film?

Patricia Arquette: I agreed to do it before I even really knew what it was, what the plot was, or anything. When he told me he was going to do this movie that spanned 12 years, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m in. Now what is it about? What’s my character?’

What about it immediately appealed to you?

Arquette: I like that idea, the passage of time, seeing it in all its glory and horror. And being brave enough to see that happen. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, because the business has gotten to be more and more of a sort of banker’s business. I don’t even know how the hell he got financing 12 years in advance. The film doesn’t fit into any formula, like in the third actthis’ should happen, and we’re talking about an age where everything is calculated into graphs. Who are you making this for? What demographic? And this defies everything. It was really life, and Rick had the total faith that life would hold itself — that life was enough.

Was it hard making the business case for financing the film?

Linklater: I talked to some producers and they’re like, ‘Huh? What? We’re gonna pay and not …’ It just made no sense. But then IFC came aboard. I had done two films with them, Tape and Waking Life. They took the long term view. And it wasn’t that much money, about $200,000 a year. We’re shooting on film. It was very low budget. And they just took the leap. I fully expected halfway through to be abandoned and have to seek other financing. I never had to, though. It’s a minor miracle.

And how did you select your actors?

Linklater: Artists are great. They jump in. I had met Patricia once, in passing. And I called her up. I just knew she’d be perfect. And we talked for a couple hours, about our moms and just life. She had been a parent kind of young. So she was in. Ethan [Hawke] was in. Then here comes the major decision. Okay, who plays the guy? That’s huge. It’s the decision. And I met a lot of kids. And I’m like, ‘Okay. You’re really nice, but you’re gonna be a little jock. You’re straight. You want to please your parents.’

What do you remember of auditioning?

Ellar Coltrane: It was very casual. It was a long audition process. I think Rick wanted to be sure. My memories are somewhat vague. It wasn’t like most auditions because he didn’t have a script or lines for me to read. It was more of a conversation. He just wanted to talk and figure out who I was.

What sold you on Ellar?

Linklater: I just liked his thought process. He wasn’t academic. Ellar couldn’t really read yet, at six. But he was thinking. He had all these interesting thoughts. He’s still the same guy, this mysterious, ethereal young man. And he has cool parents. Dad’s a musician. Mom’s a dancer. And you’re casting them as much as him. A six-year-old can’t make a 12-year commitment, and it was really important that it had that familial support.

When did you understand what a special, different kind of film this was?

Coltrane: It was very gradual. I understood how bizarre it was. But I couldn’t have possibly grasped what it was going to end up meaning to me. And I still don’t really know. It’s a totally bizarre experience to have worked on it, and even more so to watch it now. Watching myself age, watching myself change like that, it’s indescribable. It causes a lot of catharsis and a lot of intense emotion. It’s a very elusive part of life, the way we change over time.

Did you have a contingency plan? What if one of the actors gets in a car wreck? What if they get a terrible disease? Was that just part of the risk?

Linklater: It was no more a risk than life is a risk, in the real world. The phone can ring and you can get bad news and something can be changed dramatically. But the film had a great faith in the future, in statistical norms. If something crazy happens, we’ll work it in. It was designed to work in who everyone was becoming. I could subtly go with where they were at developmentally. I had these ideas of what would happen but it was always tempered with who everyone was, what they were doing.

Was it hard to get back into character year after year?

Arquette: When you have a script, you can plot the arc of your character and make choices. But in this case, we didn’t have a script at the beginning, so when we would talk about the scenes before we’d shoot that year, everyone would incorporate their experience. ‘Well, when my mom divorced my dad, this is what happened. Oh, and this is what my mom did …’. I knew the broad strokes. But we would make an amalgamation of who she was, which wasn’t always pre-determined and defined.

So the story is shifting, but what was the core of what you really wanted to tell?

Linklater: I was trying to tell a memory, of what it was like to grow up. Things you would remember from your past. There was no one thing. It was more of a tone, just a series of moments.

What about the film do you think will resonate with people?

Coltrane: I think it’s just the simple nature of the story, it’s about the little moments, something that is glossed over in almost all modern entertainment. It’s the supposedly boring moments, the things that supposedly don’t matter. But in reality, I think those are things that do matter, not these big set-piece moments, the things you’re told are going to define you. The first kiss doesn’t really matter that much. The film explores that and how important your relationships are with your family members. It’s very easy to become resentful of the people that raised you or the people that you raise, just because you’re so close to them. It’s hard to see them sympathetically for the person that they are. And part of what the film expresses is that we’re all trying.

What’s is it like now, watching yourself age over time?

Arquette: It’s pretty harsh, but also kind of exhilarating. It would have been a different movie if I wanted to worry about that and do a bunch of Botox and make sure I looked a certain way. I didn’t want that. I wanted this changing evolution and I wanted things to look hard when they felt hard. I didn’t want them to be Hollywoodized. There’d be moments where I’d decide, ‘You know, I want to put on a few more pounds.’ She’s in this marriage. She’s not feeling good. When you’re playing something like this that is really steeped in reality, your biggest job is to make it feel real.

Are there any tricks of the trade you used to get that realness?

Arquette: It was real by nature. The budget was really tiny. Before we started filming, Rick had me take the kids for the weekend. They had a sleepover with me. We did arts and crafts. I cooked them breakfast in the morning. We bonded like that. And there was nothing highfalutin about anything. Hair and makeup would crammed into like a three foot space with each other, with the wardrobe. Sometimes I’m bringing my own clothes from home or they’ll go to the Goodwill and get clothes. A snotty person couldn’t survive.

What was it like being on set?

Coltrane: We had some long days, of course, where it got exhausting. But everybody was so happy to be there. Nobody was making any money. So everybody who was there was there because they wanted to be.

What was it like coming back year after year?

Arquette: It felt like home. It felt like family. Like holidays without any drama. … But toward the end I started to really lament it coming out because I didn’t want the experience to end and I didn’t want people’s opinion about whether it worked or not because it meant so much to me.

How did you decide where to start and stop each year?

Linklater: It was like writing a novel. It just sort of flowed. It’s like, what’s the transition? Now where are we at? What do we just omit? The incredible thing is I had on the average about a year to think about it, to edit what we just shot, to attach it to everything that came before.

Did your own boyhood influence these experiences you highlighted, like all the disillusionment?

Linklater: I’m the kid who wanted to grow up and be Bugs Bunny. I was very, very disappointed when I realized I couldn’t grow up and be a cartoon character [laughs]. Or when I found out that frogs and dogs and cats, they don’t go to school during the day. I used some of these memories. Gradually, the world seems limited and you’re limited. You’re like, I’m stuck with these parents and I’m in this house. [But] the real world actually is better than anything you can imagine, if you just pay attention and look at it. The natural phenomenon of the universe is so mind-blowing, but you have to know about it. You have to be curious. You’ve got to find it on your own. If you’re lucky, you do.

Did you have moments where it was hard for it to be so real, where you might have otherwise gone back and filmed the first scene all over again?

Linklater: I don’t have a habit of that. My working method has always been, ‘Work really hard and get it right the first time.’ And we just flat didn’t have the luxury. If something’s out of focus and doesn’t work, I can’t go reshoot it. If you lose something, this was it. We only had this moment. The ante was always up. There was no turning back.

What was it like watching Ellar and Lorelei [Linklater, who plays his sister] grow up?

Arquette: Totally, incredibly beautiful. They were smart little kids, funky little kids. I loved watching these kids blossom. It’s like watching a flower open. As they got older, they started to break away and realize their characters weren’t themselves And they got all of the good things of making a movie and none of the weird things that come with being a child actor.

What was it like coming back to this thing no other kid is experiencing year after year, did it affect your other life?

Coltrane: It definitely influenced who I became in subtle ways, as I grew up. But it was such a short amount of time. And it was such a casual thing. It was like a summer camp or something, where I went and learned from these people and got to participate in this art project. And that allowed me to just be lost in the process and not worry about the product. That’s really what filmmaking and acting is about. It’s not about the end, it’s not about the movie coming out. It’s about making it.

What was finishing the last take like?

Linklater: Even if you do a three day shoot, it’s like this is the martini, the last shot on the last day. There’s this energy. So imagine what that was like after a 12-year shoot. It was the last shot we did in the movie. Sun’s going down. We’re out in the mountains overlooking Mexico and the Rio Grande. The sun’s behind the mountain. We’ve got a little window to shoot. We’re hustling, but this is the martini. And then we shot it, however many takes we could get in while the light was right. And I was like, we got it guys, that was perfect. It was a great moment. And Ellar and I just looked at each other. We stood up and hugged. He just didn’t let go. It was intense. I was just walking around in a daze, looking out as the night came on. It was just, wow. There’s no other way to describe it. But that’s what this was, 12 years of time, magical little moments throughout.

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