Sunday, May 01, 2005

Primer movie

I finally got to see the indie film Primer, written and directed by Shane Carruth, a former math major who worked in software development before getting into independent film. The movie is about a couple of engineers working on a tech startup who accidentally build a time machine. The plot is quite complex, with characters on intersecting temporal loops interfering in the lives of their past selves. The viewer is forced to reconstruct the plot from fragmentary information. While some find the film baffling, others have become obsessed with unraveling the plot and analyzing its self-consistency (see discussion on the Primer website, linked to above). Here is A.O. Scott's NYTimes review of the movie.

The director's commentary on the DVD is fascinating. Carruth gives very detailed information about how he managed to shoot the film on a $7K budget. Writing the script took a year, and editing two years, (both in Carruth's spare time, on his home computer) although the shooting itself was done in 5 weeks. Personally, I like the look of the film very much - it was shot on 16mm and then digitized for editing. Carruth comes across as a somewhat geeky but tremendously effective and determined guy. I can't wait to see his next film.

I am often struck by the similarities between indie film and doing a startup. Both require years of dedication and teamwork in the face of risk and skepticism.


Anonymous said...

Hello, i read your review on Primer, and I have quite a random question. Having searched your links and pages of your website, i know you do not have a background in film however you stated in your review that primer was shot in 16mm and then ditigized for editing. Do you know anything about how this is done? I am a young film-making and I have just begun learning about the technical aspects of the industry. I just thought I would ask. Thanks!

Steve Hsu said...

The only reason I know about the digitized 16mm is that Carruth discusses it at length in the director's commentary. I thought the look of the film was amazing, given the budget.

I have no background in film, although someday I hope to produce or direct one :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Good luck on your film ideas, I too, hope to direct one. If you ever wish to discuss film just drop me an email at

Thanks again

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