Shane Carruth

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Shane Carruth
Shane Carruth (8748841070).jpg
Carruth at South by Southwest 2013.
Born1972 (age 45–46)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.
Alma materStephen F. Austin State University
  • Filmmaker
  • actor
  • composer
Years active2004–present

Shane Carruth (born January 1, 1972) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, composer, and actor.[1][2] He is the writer, director, and co-star of the prize-winning science-fiction film Primer (2004), which was his debut feature. His second film, Upstream Color (2013), was an experimental science-fiction film which he wrote, directed, produced, edited, designed, and starred in. He also composed the scores for both films. In recognition of Carruth's idiosyncratic and, at times, bizarre filmmaking technique, director Steven Soderbergh told Entertainment Weekly, "I view Shane as the illegitimate offspring of David Lynch and James Cameron."[3]

Early life[edit]

Carruth was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1972. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University as a Mathematics major.[4] Before becoming a filmmaker, he worked as a developer of flight-simulation software.[3]



For his independent film Primer, Carruth wrote, directed, produced, and performed one of the two main roles; he also composed the score. The film was honored at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with the Grand Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Award. Carruth, a former software engineer with an undergraduate degree in mathematics,[3] used his technical knowledge extensively on the project.

Upstream Color[edit]

On January 21, 2013, Carruth premiered his film Upstream Color at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category.[5] Carruth, Johnny Marshall, and Pete Horner won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design for the film.[6] Keith Kimbell wrote that it was the "most anticipated (and most difficult to describe) film in competition", and "most critics couldn't stop talking about it".[7] The film was released via VHX on April 5, 2013.[7] Some of Carruth's music from Upstream Color was featured in the 2016 documentary Tickled.

Unrealized work[edit]

In 2009, David Sullivan, one of the leads in Primer, tweeted that "Shane Carruth's next project, A Topiary, is in the early stages of pre-production".[8] Filmmaker Rian Johnson tweeted that it would feature a "mind-blowing sci-fi script."[9] In 2010, several news sources reported that A Topiary was in the works and that the script had been written. There was already a website for the movie[10] which, according to Carruth in an interview to io9, "The website for now is just a place mark as financing has yet to be completed. I'm cautiously optimistic that this can happen soon and couldn't be happier with the filmmakers that have committed to the project so far."[11] However, the film (which Entertainment Weekly described as "a sci-fi epic about a group of kids who build a giant, animal-like creature") stalled, and in early 2013, Carruth told EW that it was "the thing I basically wasted my whole life on."[3] Carruth no longer pursues the project; some VFX test footage of the film is visible in Upstream Color in a scene when a character is examining the video for technical flaws.[12]

Carruth was rumored to have consulted on time-travel sequences for filmmaker Rian Johnson's Looper, though it was later revealed that those sequences were deemed too expensive to shoot.[13][14] In an "Ask Me Anything" session on the site Reddit, Johnson said "He gave some notes on the script but wasn't involved beyond that, sadly."[15]

In 2014, Carruth announced a new film, The Modern Ocean, based on international shipping and the lives of those involved.[16] On August 12, 2015, it was reported that the film was in pre-production,[17] and its ensemble cast was announced in November 2015; it will include Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Tom Holland and Daniel Radcliffe.[18] However, in an interview in 2018, Carruth noted that the film is "not gonna happen anytime soon".[19]

Personal life[edit]

As of January 2016, Carruth is engaged to Amy Seimetz.[20]


Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer Composer Actor Role
2004 Primer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Aaron
2013 Upstream Color Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Jeff
2014 Everything & Everything & Everything Yes Morgan Short film
2015 We'll Find Something Yes Steve Short film
Memory Box Yes The Man Short film
2016 The Girlfriend Experience Yes Yes Sam TV series (13 episodes)
Swiss Army Man Yes Coroner Cameo
2017 Breakthrough Yes TV series (1 episode)
2018 The Dead Center Yes Yes Daniel Forrester

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
2004 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Primer Won
Alfred P. Sloan Prize Won
Nantucket Film Festival Best Writer/Director Won
Gotham Awards Best Feature Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Best Film Nominated
2005 London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film Best Feature Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best First Screenplay Nominated
Best Actor in a Debut Performance (David Sullivan) Nominated
Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award Nominated
2013 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design Upstream Color Won
Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Best Directorial Revelation Won
Best Motion Picture Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Editing Second place
Independent Spirit Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Editing Nominated
Gotham Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Actress (Amy Seimetz) Nominated
Camerimage Best Cinematography Debut Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Editing Nominated
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Best Director Nominated
Village Voice Film Poll Best Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
SXSW Film Festival Festival Favorites Nominated
2014 Australian Film Critics Association Best International Film (English Language) Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Picture Nominated
Best Cinematography Nominated
Chlotrudis Best Cinematography Nominated
Lost Weekend Best Visuals Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Breakthrough (Amy Seimetz) Nominated
Best Picture Nominated
Best Original Score Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Actress (Amy Seimetz) Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Cinematography Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Technical Achievement of the Year (Johnny Marshall) Nominated


  1. ^ Murray, Rebecca (October 22, 2004). "Interview with Shane Carruth". New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2008.
  2. ^ Moring, Mark (October 22, 2004). "A Primer on Filmmaking". Christianity Today. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Maerz, Melissa (April 5, 2013). "A Mysterious Director Returns, in Living Color". Entertainment Weekly (1253): 50. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  4. ^ "New Math: A Conversation with Shane Carruth".
  5. ^ "Apple Trailers: Upstream Color Trailer".
  6. ^ "2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Feature Film Awards". January 26, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Kimbell, Keith (January 28, 2013). "2013 Sundance Film Festival Recap". Metacritic. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Sullivan, David (11 May 2009). "Shane Carruth's next project, A Topiary, is in the early stages of pre-production. Let's hope that I can be a part of that one too!". @davidsullivan. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  9. ^ "Twitter / Rian Johnson: to all who asked". Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "More details about Shane Carruth's next mind-bending film!". Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  12. ^ "UPSTREAM COLOR w/ Shane Carruth of PRIMER (B-Movies Interview)".
  13. ^ "Shane Carruth Working on LOOPER".
  14. ^ Raftery, Brian (April 17, 2013). "Buckle Your Brainpan: The Primer Director Is Back With a New Film". Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  15. ^ "Forceduse comments on IAm Rian Johnson, filmmaker". September 24, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  16. ^ Wise, Damon (5 January 2014). "Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  17. ^ Nguyen, Clinton (August 12, 2015). "We Talked to Shane Carruth About the Human Drama Behind 'The Modern Ocean'". Motherboard. Vice Media. Archived from the original on January 2, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Borys Kit, Pamela (3 November 2015). "Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe to Star in 'The Modern Ocean'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  19. ^ Nordine, Michael (October 1, 2018). "Shane Carruth on Why He Won't Direct a Superhero Movie and Acting in 'The Dead Center'".
  20. ^ Erbland, Kate (2016-01-26). "Sundance: Amy Seimetz Explains the Most Feminist Decision She Made When Crafting 'The Girlfriend Experience'". Retrieved 2016-08-23.

External links[edit]

Official websites