A Topiary trailer

Writer/director Shane Carruth has only directed two films in the past sixteen years: his breakout time travel movie Primer in 2004, and the cerebral drama Upstream Color in 2013. He’s previously teased other projects that never came to pass, and now he’s shared a pitch trailer for one of those potential features, titled A Topiary. But Carruth warns that this could get wiped from the internet soon since he utilizes unlicensed footage from other movies, so watch it quickly before it disappears.

Last night, Carruth shared the following video from the Upstream Color Twitter account, along with the message, “This will probably get taken down because I lifted a bunch of shots from films.”

Gorgeous, isn’t it? With its Amblin-esque touches, this seems like it might have become the most accessible feature in Carruth’s directing filmography…but it also sounds like this will just have to be tossed onto the giant “what if?” pile of movies we’ll never actually see. Man, I wish Carruth could find some sort of benevolent billionaire who just gives him unlimited funding to make whatever movies he wants.

Ten years ago, we wrote about a description of the script for A Topiary that was making the rounds:

The script begins with a head-scratching thirty minute prologue involving Acre Stowe, a municipal worker of an undisclosed city in the 1980s…investigating strange starbursts he sees in the sky and eventually meets up with a group of people who are also researching this phenomenon and its consequences, amongst other scientific projects ranging in subject from thermochemistry to archaeology. The main story…revolves around ten boys aged seven to eleven living in a small rural town (Carruth is ambiguous in both location and time here) and takes up the remaining two hours of the film. The boys are in possession of a mysterious black box called a “Maker,” which in turn creates mysterious white discs called “funnels.” The group of kids are at once puzzled and fascinated by the nature of the box, and eventually manipulate the discs into other peculiarly named artifacts (petals, arcs, fronds, etc.). Their creations and constructions lead up to their manufacturing of seemingly sentient quasi-mechanical beings dubbed “Choruses.” Almost as if ‘Topiary’ were an abstract arthouse take on Pokémon, you can imagine the competition and troubles the beings create amongst the children.

You can see those “Choruses” featured throughout this trailer, which intersperses some of Carruth’s footage with all of those shots taken from other movies. Here’s an isolated video test of one of those creations from Carruth’s Vimeo channel:

Also, side note: Hans Zimmer’s scores just plain rule, don’t they? The pitch trailer heavily uses “Time” from the Inception score, and it works wonders every time.

In a recent interview, Carruth confirmed that he’s quitting filmmaking after he completes one final project, though he didn’t reveal any details about what that project will be. I’m holding out hope that it’s his long-awaited movie The Modern Ocean, the latter of which had big names like Anne HathawayKeanu ReevesDaniel RadcliffeChloe Grace MoretzTom HollandAsa Butterfield, and Jeff Goldblum attached back in 2015, but has yet to materialize.

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