I watched Dazed and Confused more than any other movie during my college years. It’s an all-time favorite.
The movie perfectly captures every different level of the high school experience, has some iconic lines, some memorable characters and is just so rewatchable.
And one of the main reasons this movie exists is because of some wise personal finance decisions from writer-director Richard Linklater.
Linklater dropped out of college after two years to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
While he was figuring it out he needed some money so he worked for an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas.
After losing this job and being rejected my multiple film schools, Linklater realized becoming self-taught on the movie industry was his only option.
Linklater didn’t do a whole lot while working on the oil rig so he was able to save up $18,000.
A combination of that savings, some unemployment checks and a frugal lifestyle allowed Linklater to teach himself about the movie business from ages 23 to 27.
He tracked all of his expenses mercilessly and lived on $300 a month in Austin, TX when it was still a relatively inexpensive place to live.
Befriending the manager at a local movie theater allowed him to watch up to 500 movies a year, taking notes on all of them. Watching movies became his full-time job.
Linklater and his friends in Austin began experimenting by shooting Super 8 films, eventually creating his first movie Slackers, which was an indie hit.
Slackers was so well-received Linklater finally got his big break to do a studio movie.
He wrote Dazed and Confused about his own high school experience and directed the movie at the ripe age of 31. The movie is now a cult classic.
In the new oral history of Dazed and Confused, Alright, Alright, Alright, Melissa Maerz asked Linklater what his life was like during this time.
Now, the bigger question was how I could survive. My trick was to not live like I had $18,000. I had a room in this house in West Campus that was $150 a month, all bills paid. I had a shitty car. And I was like, outside of film stock and processing, I’m going to live on $300 a month, total, for everything. My friends in Austin were like, “Wait a second. You don’t work. You’re not in school. Are you a trust fund kid?” I’m like, “No, I have a savings account.”
This section of the book was like hitting the lottery for things Ben likes to read about. One of my all-time favorite directors discussing one of my all-time favorite movies and there were even personal finance lessons!
Here are Richard Linklater’s personal finance lessons: