December 8, 2014 9:00 AM EST

Boyhood is by now an indie hit with critics and audiences as well as a potential frontrunner for the best picture Oscar. But back when it was called 12 Years and was still in production, no one knew what its reception would look like; it was just a strange little project that had, each year, brought together director Richard Linklater and a cast of actors that included Ellar Coltrane, who’d been working on the film for almost his entire conscious life.

In this video, exclusive to TIME, Coltrane reflects on the experience of having filmed Boyhood very shortly after he interacted with his onscreen dad (played by Ethan Hawke) for the last time.

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