To stand out from the 38,000 people attending the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, director/writer Shane Carruth, flaunts the miniscule budget of his debut film, Primer, a dark thriller about young scientists on the verge of a discovery.
"I just want to be honest, and the fact is this film cost $7,000," Carruth says, during an interview early into last year's festival. "I'm in the film because, well, I didn't have to pay myself. I edited the film on my computer, and I didn't use Final Cut Pro or the latest editing software because I couldn't afford it."
Filmmakers go to Sundance to generate buzz for their films, hoping to sign a distribution deal. Carruth's story has a happy ending. Primer went on to win the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and sign a distribution deal with THINK Films.
Later in the year, Carruth promotes Primer at the Toronto Film Festival, just prior to its theatrical release. Success, he says, brings a new set of worries.
"It's been a lot of work since Sundance. I'm editing and the hard drive crashes. The Web site is late. But I'm not complaining. There's the re-release of George Lucas' THX 1138 — don't know another film like this opening in theaters. I've been constantly surprised."
Asked if he regrets hyping that he made his film for the cost of a decent used car, Carruth laughs, then offers a resounding "no." — Steve Ramos