Blog Reviews

Shane Carruth Talks Upstream Colour – movieScope

So once you set out on Upstream Colour—which was self-funded—was it a swift process in getting it made?
It was, but almost wrongly—so it was maybe an error. I was in such a rebellious mode, once I was consumed with this; once I had all the story elements collected, it was probably two to three months of writing. I then pointed at the calendar and said, we are shooting this date and we’ll be done by this date. It was just a complete act of rebellion. It wasn’t based on anything logistical.

As well as writing, directing, producing and starring in Upstream Colour, you also co-edited the film. Can you talk about that process?
In the first third, we pretty much have a straightforward—as this film’s ever going to be—thriller. It’s dense with plot. But almost all of it is about control; somebody being handed down the assembly line. So the compositions are very precise and the editing in some places is methodical and slow. The second third is almost completely about the lead character’s reaction to this haunting that is happening and continuing to happen, and their inability to even speak to it, so it becomes incredibly more subjective and the camerawork becomes more flowing and the cuts become more rapid. We get very close to a found-footage type mode, which I hope services that moment in the film. And the last third—the way I view it is that it just comes off the rail completely!

What was behind your decision to self-distribute the film in the US?
I started looking into this last summer, as we were done shooting by March/April of 2012. I started trying to figure out how to bring this to the world, and that’s when I started interviewing theatre bookers and PR people. I didn’t have a bad experience with Primer, but I did have an experience. And I came to understand two things—firstly, that a distributor hires elements. They hire PR, they hire theatre bookers… so in a sense, they’re a central office that outsources bits of the job, at least on this level. The other thing is, whoever writes the cheques makes the final decision, regardless of what any contracts say. So I had that experience once, so going around fact-finding, it was like, what would this look like if I just hired these people?

Has it worked for you?
I believe that we are going to do better than make back our money, and more importantly every dollar we make goes into the next project. I don’t need to win the lottery. I don’t need to make $100m. I just need to make enough to continue telling stories, and I think we can definitely do that this way.




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