shane carruth retiring

Shane Carruth isn’t what you’d call a prolific filmmaker, but the two films he’s delivered – Primer and Upstream Color – are held in high regard. Fans have been hoping for a new Carruth-directed film for almost seven years now, and the good news is that their wish might soon be granted. The bad news is that Carruth might be retiring once this next film is made.

We somehow missed this news from October of 2019, but The Playlist just caught it. During an interview with The Hot Corn, filmmaker and actor Shane Carruth dropped some unfortunate news while promoting his latest gig, an acting-only turn in The Dead Center. “I’ve got a massive thing that I’m doing, and after that I’m gonna get out of this, I’m gonna get out of film after this,” Carruth said. “I’ve got another half of my life to live and I want to think about charities and finding a way to help people, not doing this bullshit, caring about box office, distribution and all this.”

While Carruth’s plan is noble and commendable, and even understandable, it’s also a bit of a bummer. Carruth burst onto the scene in 2004 with his dense, engrossing, unapologetically technical time-travel indie Primer. It immediately signaled Carruth as someone to pay attention to – not only did he write and direct the project, he also acted in it and composed the music. Carruth wouldn’t helm a feature again until 2013 with Upstream Color, another film that was unafraid to not explain itself.

Since then, though, Carruth hasn’t directed a feature. He helmed one episode of the TV series Breakthrough, and provided music for the TV adaptation of The Girlfriend Experience. Beyond that, he’s mostly acted in short films, while also appearing on The Girlfriend experience TV show, providing a cameo in Swiss Army Man, and starring in The Dead Center.

Other potential Carruth features have been mentioned over the years. After Primer, word started going around that Carruth wanted to make a film called A Topiary, which Rian Johnson described as “mind-blowing sci-fi.” But the project was apparently too ambitious, and Carruth never got around to fully realizing it, although not for lack of trying. Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher both signed on to produce the film, but, per EW, Carruth was unable to raise the proposed $14 million budget, and went on to say that the film was “the thing I basically wasted my whole life on.”

In 2015, a new potential Carruth feature was announced, titled The Modern Ocean. That film even announced a cast: Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tom Holland, Asa Butterfield, and Jeff Goldblum. Per THR, “The storyline revolves around vengeance and the fierce competition for valuable shipping routes and priceless materials that converge in a spectacular battle on the rolling decks of behemoth cargo ships.”

But there’s been little to no movement on The Modern Ocean since the casting announcement. Is this the “massive thing” that Carruth mentions he’s going to do before he retires? We’ll have to wait and see.

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