Shane Carruth is not exactly the most prolific filmmaker working today, but when he does make a movie, it tends to be extraordinary. His debut, 2004’s Primer, remains a remarkable work to be studied, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. His follow-up film, Upstream Color, came nine years later and received high levels of critical acclaim. It was while promoting this second film that Carruth began to discuss The Modern Ocean – but it is only now, having just signed with a Hollywood agency, that the pieces for his first big budget venture are falling into place.
It is easy to imagine that Hollywood has been clamouring to climb aboard the Shane Carruth train for some time, given his ability to create incredibly original cinema with minimal budget – and generate relatively high financial returns. Primer had an estimated budget of $7000, and made $545,000 at the box office. Upstream Color represented a significant increase in investment, with an estimated budget of $50,000, and generated $587,000 in box office. It has still taken some time to get his next project off the ground, however, which is testament to the levels of financial caution being exercised by Hollywood studios. Carruth explained The Modern Ocean to Indiewire back in 2013.
“There’s no genre or otherworldly elements in it. It’s set in the modern day on shipping routes, with people who build routes to trade – you know, vanilla from Madagascar, and then pick up crude oil and drop it off in India. They build up this intellectual property of a route that is profitable and they sell it off – dealing with tidal systems, and routes, and currents, and weather. So there are these competing companies and these inner personal things happening. It’s pirates, repo men, bolt cutters and sniper rifles – but at the same time, it’s the same emotional language as Upstream Color, just magnified. I’m excited by it.”
Anyone that has seen Primer will realize why the combination of Shane Carruth and a big, Hollywood budget is an exciting prospect. On a shoestring, and with little experience, he created this complex, compelling drama about mathematics, time travel and deep, swirling emotion – handling the writing, directing, producing, acting, composing, editing, casting, production design, and sound design himself. He also multi-tasked (to a slightly lesser degree) for Upstream Color, adding cinematography to his resume, too. Just imagine what he can achieve with those experiences under his belt, and the backing of a Hollywood studio. The Modern Ocean simply cannot arrive quickly enough.
Source: The Playlist