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Primer and Upstream Color Director Goes Big Budget For Third Film

I’ve been a fan of director Shane Carruth since his film Primer first came out in theaters over ten years ago. At the time there was a promotion where if you brought your ticket stub back to the theater, you could watch it again for free, because there was no way you’d understand what you watched the first time. It would be nine years until Carruth would follow up with his second film, Upstream Color, which is a much easier (but by no means easy) film to follow narratively. 

Primer was filmed for only $7,000 and, while Upstream Color had a much larger budget, it was still only $50,000 (both films grossed over half a million dollars). I wondered if it would be another decade before we would get another film from the director, but it seems that the wait won’t be that long, and the next film will be a larger budget affair set on the high seas. 

Deadline is reporting that Carruth has signed with WME for his “nautical action adventure” film, The Modern Ocean; the agency will help him finance the larger budgeted film. He’s producing the film with Lawrence Inglee, and a portion of the budget is being supplied by financier Gideon Tadmor.

Very little is known about the film other, than what he revealed to Motherboard: It has a main cast of ten characters, and another twenty or more in supporting roles.

Here’s what else he revealed about The Modern Ocean to Motherboard:

…the ocean is a place where I can set a story on a world stage. The ocean is not policed in any kind of perfect way. And a lot of things happen out there that, you know, it’s sort of every man for himself or every group of men for themselves.

I’m constantly interested in the politics, interactions between different personalities, different characters. That’s what this boils down to: it erupts into a big action film, essentially, but the reasons why it does are the reasons the story exists. That characters are unable to get aligned is because they’re all pointed in different directions, they all have slightly different motives. And that’s not always known to the group.

I have to wonder if this is Carruth’s take on the concept of Lord of the Flies. Take a large, diverse cast and make them a microcosm of what’s going on in the world at large. Whatever he’s planning, his first film made the hair on the back of my head stand up, and his second proved that it wasn’t a fluke. There’s no word on when we might see The Modern Ocean, but it sounds like he’s ramping up with signing onto an agency. Hopefully it won’t be another decade.