Melissa Maerz was one of the founding editors at Vulture and has been a staff writer for Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, as well as a supervising producer on HBO’s Vice News Tonight. Her debut book, Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, weaves together over 150 narratives as myriad cast and crew members tell the story of the film’s making.
In this interview, Maerz discusses one of her favorite interviewees and his poignant memories of the time during and after filming Dazed and Confused, as well as the necessity of a location like Austin, Texas, for this movie. Timing, she relates, was everything—a period and place in which studios were willing to make indie movies on a small budget, at the same time as big-budget projects like Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List were in development. Maerz reflects on the nature of an oral history, and how that style of writing lends itself to a movie that is so often about conversations, a style that captures “the vibe” of being a teenager. Certain moments were especially surprising for Maerz, specifically the faithfulness of some rooms and scenes to actual moments and people in Linklater’s life.
From our review: “A charming oral history of everyone’s favorite stoner film. When 23-year-old Matthew McConaughey uttered the three words of the title, which weren’t in Richard Linklater’s shooting script, set decorator Deb Pastor knew that history was being made.... Essential for fans of the film but also for anyone with ambitions to work in film on either side of the camera.”