Shane Carruth Abandons ‘A Topiary,’ Explains ‘Upstream Color’ and Preps ‘Modern Ocean’

Upstream Color

The first teaser for Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, frankly, looked a lot like most of the stuff NYU film students produce for their thesis, but Carruth’s name carries a metric ton more weight because of the impact Primer had on the filmgoing world. Given that track record, it also wasn’t too surprising that the first look was fairly obtuse.

There will be a full trailer for his sophomore effort ahead of its debut at Sundance ‐ the festival that launched the indie sensation ‐ so Carruth recently spoke to the LA Times about films present, future and forgotten.

That includes a plot synopsis for Upstream Color.

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The film is about “a young woman (Amy Seimetz) [who] is abducted and seemingly brainwashed via an organic material harvested from a specific flower. She later meets a man (Carruth) and after the two fall for each other, they come to realize he may also have been subjected to the same process.”

Carruth talks extensively about not wanting to be beholden to the normal film finance and distribution channels, and that he plans to continue working at a more prolific pace while not under the burden of someone else’s monetary thumb. To that end, he wants to start production on a new movie called The Modern Ocean this summer after distributing Upstream himself.

And then there’s the bad news. Fans of his work have salivated for years over the prospect of project called A Topiary which involves starburts and semi-mechanical beings call Choruses (details here), but Carruth calling it “the thing I basically wasted my whole life on,” doesn’t bode well for it getting made. Neither does his moving on to a different production right after Upstream.

But even if Topiary is dead in the water for now, it’s exciting to know we’ll have access to Upstream Color soon (through various theaters and streaming options) and that Carruth isn’t planning on laying low for another 9 years to create something new.

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