Strange Ambience

Ventures in arts and culture that leave an effect.

Shane Carruth, post-2000 filmmaking great.

Categories: film

Upstream Color (2013)

Shane Carruth is probably one of the most innovative and important film makers since the 2000's to emerge. Carruth made his mark with the debut film, Primer (2004), a science fiction film about two engineers who inadvertently invent a time machine and then use it to gain wealth. The film was made out-of-pocket by Carruth for $7,000.00 USD and was picked up by MGM for six figures. Script, shooting, acting, music score all done by Carruth. Primer has since gone on to cult status, deservedly so.

Subsequent film, Upstream Color (2013) was also made out-of-pocket for about $25,000 USD and received limited distribution but also achieved cult status. Carruth wrote the script, shot the film and acted as well as composed/performed the score. However, David Lowery edited the film, with Carruth. Upstream Color is an eco sci-fi about the loss of self identity and the struggle to rebuild from shattered fragments. Someone taps into an ecological anomaly for selfish gain and the protagonists look for ways to disrupt this. The film, acting and music are spectacular and heady. This is a treasure to watch.

The only other directing credit Carruth has is Predicting the Future (2017) a documentary about identifying patterns in data to predict likely outcomes, as part of the Breakthrough National Geographic documentary series.

Carruth has since wrote a script for two additional films, A Topiary and Modern Ocean, but as of this writing, are unlikely to be produced. Moreover, no Hollywood entity or otherwise will fund his films. This is especially so after an unfortunate turn. Lately, Carruth was accused of domestic violence from former fiance, and co-actor on Upstream Color, Amy Seimetz--an allegation Carruth denies and Seimetz has yet to provide evidence such as photos, doctor/police reports or corroborating witnesses. This presents reasonable doubt that the allegations are baseless. Until claims are substantiated, I will continue to affirm that Carruth is among the film making greats. Make no mistake, women are frequently victims and I do not condone such alleged acts, but this may be the rare false accusation.

Unfortunately, Carruth has declared himself to be retired from film making. While I wish him to be absolved of accusations and making more films, sadly, we are all at a loss for now. Perhaps Carruth and the untimely end of a promising filmmaker has become a cautionary tale. Meanwhile, we have three films he made and various others he acted in.

Below, a short film directed by Casey Gooden (who worked on all of Carruth's films) We'll Find Something (2015) starring Carruth and Amy Seimetz.